By Taha Ghayyur
Whether you are married for just a month or for a decade, you often take your spouse for granted. Courtesy, gratitude, and care for each other wears off. The same person whom, once upon a time, you would thank for little things, now feels unappreciated by you for all that they do for you everyday.
Why is it that today if some “stranger” offers you a drink or holds the door for you, you jump to thank them even before their act of kindness is completed, and yet, you show no gratitude to your husband or wife’s hard work all day long?
What we fail to realize is that expressing gratitude benefits both partners in the relationship—the recipient and the giver. When you give appreciation, you often receive even more in return.
One researcher found on days when spouses felt more gratitude toward their partner, they felt more attached to him or her and more pleased even the following day. Recipients of gratitude also increased their satisfaction on days when it was expressed.
Researchers refer to gratitude as a booster shot for romantic relationships. Moreover, each unit of improvement in expressed appreciation decreased by half the odds of the couple breaking up in six months, based on Scientific American’s December 2009 article, “The Happy Couple: Secrets to a Long Marriage.”
Every day is filled with wonderful opportunities to tell the special person in your life, how grateful you are for this relationship. Here are some simple ways to shower your husband or wife with well-deserved appreciation everyday:
- Thank your spouse because they care, not because it’s their job. When your spouse helps with a chore, whether it’s doing dishes, taking out garbage, feeding the baby, or doing groceries, don’t think it’s their job. Moreover, don’t take their work for granted just because you do your share of chores also. Appreciate the care and thoughtfulness that your husband or wife invests in this day-to-day grunt work.
- Tell them why you appreciate their act of kindness. Your spouse would be delighted to know why you are grateful. Moreover, specifying what makes you thankful shows you are sincere in your appreciation. Say: “Thank you for cleaning the snow. It gave me some time to relax!” or “It was nice of you to take kids to play outside as I was able to work on my assignment in peace.”
- Be creative in expressing thanks. Learn and use different phrases everytime. If you keep using “Thank you” all the time, it looses its charm and meaning after a while. Try more personalized phrases: “I appreciate it”, “I love it when you….”, “I am grateful for…”, “May God bless you!”, “Jazakallahu Khayran”, “What would I do without your help”, “I will pray to Allah for you…”…etc.
- Appreciate the time and thoughtfulness, not only the results. Even when your partner goofs up and is unable to deliver up to your expectations, thank them for their effort and time. If your spouse forgets to buy an item from the long list of groceries, or if he or she burns the dinner, don’t make them feel all their work was wasted. “It’s not a big deal, honey. Thank you for your effort.”
- Look for positives to appreciate even in negative circumstances. How often you get upset when your husband or wife tells you: “Honey, I have to work extra hours next weekend to meet a project deadline,” or “I am running late tonight,” or “My mom is feeling ill and she will need my help this week.” Instead of whining, thank them for calling you and informing about the situation. This way, your spouse will do their best to reciprocate and make up for the inconvenience.
- Write and leave surprise “Thank You” notes. You would be surprised, how powerful these little acts of gratitude can be in making your husband or wife feel special. These can make their day. You can hide a note somewhere for your partner to discover, or send a quick text message on your way to work, or shoot a heartfelt email, to simply say “Thank You!”
- Let them know how important they are to your success. Count your blessings and accomplishments in life, and inform your husband or wife about the impact they have in your success. Whether it’s your career, academic pursuits, parenting, community work, or spiritual growth, appreciate how your spouse contributes to the achievement of your goals.
- Praise and thank them in private and public. Many a times a husband or wife feels appreciated at home, but feel they are worthless when they step out in public domain. Some couples don’t think there is a need to thank their special ones in public. On the other extreme, some spouses only thank each other in public to show people how well-mannered they are, while they are abusive at home. When your gratitude is consistent and sincere in all spheres of your married life, you will see the positive impact of it in your relationship.
- Go out of your way when they need help. The true test of a grateful attitude is when you take initiative to make someone feel special and serve them when they need your care the most. If your wife or husband feels down or drained one day, be more thoughtful. Offer to do the chores rather than waiting to be asked. Let them take a nap, give them a message, or given them a break from children.
- Use the time-tested method to thank. Say thank you with a gift. Doesn’t have to be fancy. Flowers, or a box of chocolates, or a dinner out at a restaurant, or a custom engraved stationery, or a gift certificate to a spa.