It’s been an issue in relationships since the beginning of time. Appreciation; or lack thereof has been the at the root of countless arguments and, in some cases, divorces.
The scene I’m sure you’re initially picturing in your head is probably very similar to the one I see. A wife and stay-at-home mom, cooking, cleaning, taking care of the kids. Day in and day out. The same routine consisting of the millions of thankless jobs she does in order to make her family’s day just a little bit better. Making sure the coffee pot is set and the mugs are washed. Lunches are packed & the clothes are clean and ready for the next day. Dinner was made, cleaned up, and the dishes washed and put away. Errands ran, favors done, projects saved; every day.
We mix this mental image in with the modern era of 2 income families, and it’s easy to see how these countless, menial, everyday tasks can become taken for granted. It’s not just the stay-at-home parents – it’s working parents, it’s working couples without children, it’s couples around the globe whether they be straight, gay, bi-racial, backwards, forwards, upside-down, or sideways. We take each other and all the things we do for each other for granted. We get used to it. It becomes comfortable….. expected.
Then you hear this: “You don’t appreciate me anymore.”
Now begins the insistence that they *do*, in fact, appreciate you, and everything you do for them (and the kids). You’re the best wife/husband they could’ve asked for. They don’t know how they got so lucky. Kisses. Hugs. Rinse. Repeat.
That’s when it happens. That’s when the last straw falls. Someone has had enough and the relationship dies. Make no mistake; even though the couple may remain together, the relationship is dead. So how do we keep it from happening? How do we stop the rinse and repeat cycle?
Put your money where your mouth is.
We don’t want appreciation. We want compensation. Think about it. How many times have you heard, “I wish they would just bring home take-out once in a while.” Or, “flowers would be a nice surprise.” We look at those things as romantic. It’s not. It’s compensation for a job well done. *Those* things tell us we’re appreciated. We can’t hear you thinking, “Dang this is awesome!! What an amazing cook!” while you scarf down dinner. There are only a handful of people on this planet that are mind readers. The chances that you happen to be in a relationship with one of them is slim-to-none. You need to SHOW your appreciation.
Next argument: “I don’t know how./I’m not very good at that./I don’t have any money.”
“I don’t know how.” – Shh! I’m about to tell you. It’s really quite simple. You won’t believe it.
“I’m not very good at that.” – You’ll never get better if you don’t do it. Duh. You didn’t come out of the womb running laps around the delivery room.
“I don’t have any money.” – Good news!!! You don’t need any! The simplest of gestures are often enough to let someone know they are appreciated and valued.
Step one: Tell them. No really. Tell them. You would be amazed at what a simple “thank you” can do in regards to lifting our spirits and feeling appreciated. You’ve heard the phrase “it’s a thankless job”? Yeah, well- SPEAK UP!
Step two: Do a chore. Help out. Pick something. Anything. It doesn’t matter. Just whatever you do, ask if there is a particular way they like it done. When you do a job over and over again, you get into a routine and end up with preferred methods. If someone else comes along and uses another method, we may feel that it’s not done properly. We then wind up doing it “our way”. A simple way to avoid all of this is to ask. “I see that you’re dusting. Would you rather I mop or vacuum?” “Do you need me to switch the load of laundry? Does anything need to be hung?” Don’t say you wouldn’t know to ask. You see the clothes hanging in the bathroom on the shower rod.
Step three: Offer to pick up dinner on the way home. Don’t wait until 4:30 in the afternoon to offer this. Chances are they’ve already taken something out of the freezer for thawing or have even started already. Again, ask. Early to mid-afternoon shoot a message. “How’s your day going? Did you have any plans for dinner? Would you like me to grab “x” on the way home?”
Step four: Spend time together. This isn’t difficult either. Go on a date for crying out loud!! What did you like to do together before you were married/had kids/got distracted by the day-to-day? Go for a walk in the park. Spend an afternoon at the Art Museum. Have a picnic lunch. Go bowling!! Just do something together away from outside distractions like T.V., internet, and cell phones.
It’s not very hard to make a person feel appreciated and valued. You just need to stop thinking of yourself for a minute and start thinking about them. What would make them happy? When was the last time you said, “thank you”? When was the last time you laughed together? When a person feels invisible or unappreciated in a relationship for a long enough amount of time, they will be forced to make a decision; stay in a situation where they are unhappy, or change their situation?
Are you willing to continue down the same path and wait to see what they decide? Or are you going to make a change, make a serious effort, and PUT YOUR MONEY WHERE YOUR MOUTH IS….