Frequently when I meet with couples I hear, see, and feel a flood of resentment that has built up and now it is pouring out between partners. We discuss how the couple expresses appreciation towards one another and I commonly hear from one or both partners – “I don’t know?”, “We don’t”, “I don’t remember?”, “S/he doesn’t”, or “I forget to.”
Which leads me to explore the culture of fondness and appreciation that exists within the relationship. It can be difficult to focus on the relationship and recognizing our partner when an overwhelming number of external forces are constantly drawing our attention way from one another. Furthermore, partners can become emotional accountants keeping track of who says “thank you” and who never says anything.
Research, from the Gottman’s, has shown that a powerful predictor of relationship stability comes from how much we invest in one another, as well as, how much we know about the history of our partner, their concerns, what they like and don’t like, and what they need to feel supported, appreciated, and loved.
Which brings me back to how couples express appreciation towards one another. While many partners make the time to celebrate the big moments such as a birthday, anniversary, etc. there are numerous other moments that become missed opportunities. Many partners find themselves starved from a lack of recognition and appreciation. The annual birthday party or anniversary dinner is just not enough and when couples feel deprived from a lack of connection between one another the relationship can become distant and unfulfilling.
Therefore, it is important within a relationship to build a culture of appreciation, recognition, fondness, and admiration. No task or act of kindness is too small to be overlooked or assumed that “they know” or “I’ll tell them later.”
When I hear one or both partners express that “I don’t know” how to appreciate the contribution of their partner we take pause to identify several activities that commonly go overlooked. We also take the time to listen and understand from our partner what specifically allows them to feel seen, heard, and appreciated.
Expressing appreciation and recognition for the little things adds up.
Saying “THANK YOU” for…
While all these opportunities may seem like day-to-day chores that just have to get done – you’re right. They are also opportunities. Do not diminish the time, effort, and value that it takes to do these for one another.
Therefore, next time you’re wondering “how to” express appreciation and recognition towards your partner, start with the little things because they do add up!
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