A common theme in discussions with couples in my private practice is appreciation, gratitude, or more often than not, the lack of it. We all need to feel important to our spouse, to feel appreciated for all the big and little things we do for each other every day. It may seem like a no-brainer to just thank your partner but the world of couples’ interaction doesn’t always go that smoothly.
When someone repeatedly does something, good or bad, it’s a conditioned response on our part to simply begin to expect it. It’s like seeing the same vase on the table every single day; after a while you don’t see it anymore, but remove that vase, or quit doing that activity, and it becomes glaringly obvious that it’s gone.
I could be sexist here and talk about how women are the replacers of household items we use every day and it may come as a surprise to some of you that things like toilet paper, soap, coffee and paper towels don’t magically refill and replace themselves. There are a multitude of little things that each partner does on a regular basis to contribute to the household and to each other’s comfort. These things often go unheralded or unappreciated. They come to be expected, much like the vase on the table.
Do you ever take the time to notice or comment to your partner about all those thankless tasks they do to help you have a better day?
If you don’t, there’s a very good chance that your partner is harboring some negative feelings about that, perhaps even some resentment or anger. They might not overtly express it, but if they seem annoyed when you ask why something wasn’t done, you may have a clue about it.
I’d like to suggest that, just for a week, you pay attention to all the small things your partner does to keep things running smoothly in your day and in your house hold. Make a list of what you notice and at the end of the week, name those things to your partner and show them some gratitude and appreciation. Be specific. “Thank you for all you do, I noticed that you (_________fill in the blank) and I just want to let you know I am grateful to you for doing that.”
Do your best to get into the habit of thanking your partner for what they do. Making a habit takes a little bit of effort, but you can trust me when I say that this small effort will go a long way toward making your partner feel appreciated and important in your relationship.