In communicating with our spouse, definitions are very important. Your definition of a term may be very different from what your spouse’s is. What is appreciation?
Appreciation: a feeling of being grateful for something or someone. An ability to understand the worth, quality or importance of something or someone.[i]
Think of all the things you and your spouse contribute or will contribute in the years to come to your marriage. There are sacrifices of personal time, money, belongings and friends to ensure the life and well-being of your spouse and that they make for yours.
As we each contribute our part, settle into our roles and grow comfortable with each other, it becomes easy to just expect our spouse will just do their part.
Take for granted: fail to properly appreciate (someone or something), especially as a result of overfamiliarity.[ii]
But we’re married! Do we really need to show appreciation to our spouse anymore? What happens when we stop showing appreciation to our spouse?
Dr. Susan Heitler Ph.D. in her article Does Gratitude Matter in Marriage?[iii] said:
“As marriages move past the honeymoon stage, couples go from appreciating and loving every little detail about each other to taking each other for granted.Amie Gordon, a psychologist from U.C. Berkeley, blames this for the downfall of many relationships: ”You get used to having [your spouse] in your life and forget why you chose to be with them.”We become deadened to our spouse’s special qualities and instead focus on things that annoy us about them. These doldrums leave couples confused and discouraged: “Maybe the man they married isn’t so great after all…What happened to the spark in our relationship?...What do we do now?”
It’s easy to see how failing to show appreciation can disrupt the best possible sex. Who is going to feel turned on when they feel resentful, taken advantage of or taken for granted?
Scott Adams, creator of the Dilbert comics, said, “I’ve had a number of occasions…to test the power of praise, and I find it an amazing force, especially for adults. Children are accustomed to a continual stream of criticisms and praise, but adults can go weeks without a compliment while enduring criticism both at work and at home. Adults are starved for a kind word. When you understand the power of honest praise…you realize that withholding it borders on immoral…”[iv]
Fortunately, it’s never too late to turn this around. Here are some suggestions of things we can do to show appreciation to our spouse.
Dr. Heitler goes on to say
“a nourishing cycle of encouragement and appreciation provides extra incentive to maintain our relationships. In other words, when we appreciate our [spouse], we develop trust and respect. When we feel appreciated, we feel needed and encouraged.”
To show appreciation, you can:
- Remember your manners. Say please and thank you – it goes a long way
- Hold their hand to give reassurance
- Take time to notice what got done around the house or for what they endured at work for you that day – give credit where credit is due.
- Let your spouse vent. If they’ve had a hard day and are crumbling inside, be a listening ear.
- If they are about to face a challenge, give encouragement – even if they say they don’t want it. Say something like “I appreciate all you go through for us, you can do this.”
- Showing appreciation can be leaving the frustration you feel for the work or people at work outside of the door to your home. Greet your family with a cheerful countenance and vice versa from those at home.
- Most important, ask! Ask your spouse what things you could do or say that would make them feel appreciated. Is it bringing flowers home? Is it greeting you with a hot apple pie? Find out! Make it fun.
“Express gratitude for what your spouse does for you. Express that love and gratitude often. That will make life far richer and more pleasant and purposeful. Don’t withhold those natural expressions of love. And it works a lot better if you are holding her close while you tell her.”
~ Elder Richard G Scott[v]
Join us next time when we discuss how past regrets can dampen the best possible sex.
[i] Merrian Webster Dictionary, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/appreciation
[iii] Heitler, Susan Ph.D. Does Gratitude Matter in Marriage?, Psychology Today, July, 14,2012
[iv] Adams, Scott. How to Fail at Everything and Still Win Big; Kind of the Story of My Life. Portfolio/Penguin. 2013. Pg. 106.
[v] Scott, Richard G., The Eternal Blessing of Marriage, Apr. 2011 General Conference, https://www.lds.org/general-conference/2011/04/the-eternal-blessings-of-marriage?lang=eng