It is a pertinent question for anyone in a couple relationship because one of the most frequent complaints I hear from couples coming for counselling is, ‘He doesn’t appreciate all I do for him’ or ‘She doesn’t appreciate all I do for us’.
If you do so and on a regular basis, your relationship is likely to be in good health. If you cannot remember let me ask you another question: when did you start forgetting to tell your partner how grateful you all for all the 101 things and more that they do on a daily basis? You see, it is easy to notice the big things, the things that call attention to, but it is in the small every day acts that a relationship is nurtured and grown, or congruently, is slowly eroded and destroyed. Which direction is your relationship heading?
We all have a need to feel valued and appreciated in our relationships. When you receive a compliment, a ‘heart felt’ thanks or a warm embrace it makes you feel good about yourself. When your partner notices the things you do and expresses gratitude you feel happier and more content. In fact, research conducted by Benjamin Karney, co-director of the Relationship Institute at the University of California, has shown that couples who focus on the positive aspects of their relationship are the ones who are happiest in their relationship(1).
The 3 Things Exercise (2)
Sitting with a couple recently, I invited them to tell each other three things that they had noticed their partner do in the past week that they appreciated. That they were ‘out of practice’ was obvious by the lengthy silence until he mused that his partner had cooked dinner but that was her role in the household and therefore did not need to be acknowledged. At once, she let out an irritated sigh and her resentment was apparent. You see, he missed the point that it is in these very mundane and daily tasks that we each need to know we are appreciated and not taken for granted. In that moment he had the opportunity to create a closer connection however his failure to understand her need to be appreciated in the small insignificant things, reinforced the distance between them.
Research also tells us that being grateful can improve our own health and wellbeing. When you make a habit of noticing and expressing gratitude for the things your partner does, your relationship will improve. Gratitude and appreciation will always invite a closer connection.
Why not start practicing telling your partner what it is you are grateful for right now? To get you started, write down 3 things that you appreciate about them and then find a time when you are both able to sit down, have a cuppa together and talk. Perhaps you could make it your intention as a couple, to do this exercise every day or on a regular basis. I would love to hear how you progress on the comments below.
- J.K.McNulty & B.RKarney 2001 Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, vol 27, no 8
- J.Aitken & A.Leigh Making Couples Happy 2013
Do you feel unappreciated or misunderstood by your partner? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.