Husbands, have you thanked your wife for something she has done or said today? Wives, have you taken the time today to show appreciation to your husband for something he did for you or someone else?
Thankfulness does not get worn out with use: not in your workplace, not in your place of worship, not in social get-togethers, and definitely not in your home. But it is easier to become ungrateful at home than it is anywhere else. Over the years, our marriage partner becomes so familiar to us that we sometimes don’t notice them the way we notice colleagues, or neighbors, or strangers on the street. In the early years of marriage, we may have thanked them profusely for everything from the burnt toast they made for us to the way they chose to love us when we felt undeserving of their love. Yet, with passing years, we start to take their acts of giving for granted. We begin to expect their selfless acts of kindness, and stop thanking for them or thank only on occasion. And as we thank less often, we begin to wonder why we don’t feel appreciated ourselves.
While a lack of gratitude serves as a slow poison for a relationship, a regular show of heartfelt gratitude can heal a relationship. But what if I am not naturally expressive like that, you may ask? If you are intelligent enough to be reading this post, you are also smart enough to learn how to show gratitude. Fortunately, it is not very difficult to learn. In essence, all it takes is for you to take your eyes off your own needs for a short time, and focus on your spouse. Even if you are going through a rough patch in your marriage, and you feel unloved and unappreciated, you can still identify small things that have enriched your life thanks to your spouse. It may be a cup of coffee they brought you, or a small gift they gave you, or the call they made when they were late for dinner, or the way they smiled at you when you least expected it. It doesn’t have to be significant, erotic, or even intimate things that should get your attention - simply make the effort to notice what your spouse is doing.
For those who like practical methods they can use to change their behavior, here’s a simple set of steps that will point you in the right direction.
1. Put a pen and a piece of paper next to your bed.
2. Before you go to sleep, challenge yourself to write down 3 things you can be grateful for in your home and marriage. Remember that these don’t have to be deeply emotional or intimate in nature. They can be as simple as “I am grateful that my wife ironed my work shirt today,” or “I am grateful that my husband works so hard at his job despite it not being fulfilling for him,” or “I am thankful that my wife brought me a new roll of toilet paper when I discovered (too late) that there wasn’t enough on the roll,” or “I appreciate my husband taking our car to be washed today.” Look for the “specks of stardust” in your marriage - every marriage has some of these tiny glimmers of hope or sparks of joy, and they happen every day so take the time to identify a few of them each day.
3. Within 24 hours (before it is time to write a new list), find a way to express gratitude for at least one of the points on your list. Express your gratitude out aloud. Send an email. Make that call during your spouse’s lunch break. Send a text message. Write it on a piece of paper and slip it into the pocket of their work clothing or put it in their lunch box. Don’t let a day pass without expressing gratitude for something small and seemingly insignificant.
4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 every day.
Feeling unappreciated and unloved this week? Finding it hard to communicate with your spouse? Wanting something better for your marriage? Move your focus off finding fault in what your husband or wife has done. Stop thinking about how disrespectful your wife is and how deserving of punishment she is. Wives, stop thinking about what a loser your husband seems to be. Quit hammering your spouse with your criticism. This week, try a dose of gratitude instead. Give what you need, and enrich your marriage in the process. Develop an attitude of gratitude, exercise that attitude daily, and take the way you love your partner to the next level.