Appreciation in marriage helps more that you might think to keep lines of communication open and leave you feeling good about your spouse. Showing appreciation to each other is one of the secrets to our happy marriage. In fact, one of the most romantic things he has ever done for me, was a form of appreciation. More about that in a minute, but first, let’s look at the importance of appreciation in marriage.
What is Appreciation All About?
Appreciation is the recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. We have all heard that gratitude in our lives has a powerful effect on our personal happiness (and on our brains!) This also applies to our happiness in marriage. When you stop and recognize the good qualities of something or someone it makes them feel valued.
How does Appreciation in Marriage Help?
When your spouse recognizes something that you’ve done, it tells you that they noticed and conveys that they appreciate and love you. No one wants to be taken for granted. If I spend the whole day cleaning the house, and my husband comes home and walks through the door, looks around and says “Hey, the house looks really great and smells clean.” I have an entirely different response than if he walks through the door, doesn’t stop, and tracks dirt in on the way to the restroom.
If he comes in and does not stop to appreciate my hard work and tracks in dirt, my response is irritation. I feel like I have done a lot of work for nothing. If, on the other hand, he comes in and stops to appreciate how great the house looks and smells, I will usually smile smile, say thank you and feel very loved. I will feel like the work of the day amounted to something.
As you might have guessed, one of my primary love languages is words of affirmation. When one or both spouses primary love language is words of affirmation, appreciation in marriage goes a long way towards making them feel loved and valued.
How Does Appreciation in Marriage Contribute to the Magic Ratio?
According to psychologists, there is a magic ratio of positive vs negative interactions that predicts the health of the marriage. That magic ratio is 5 to 1. For every one negative interaction, at least 5 positive ones are needed to counterbalance it. Our minds are wired to focus on the negative. Negative news and negative interactions stick with us much longer than positive ones. That’s not a good thing if a couple is fighting all the time and the conflict is full of negative interactions.
Every marriage goes through ups and downs as the couple goes through life together. Even in the tough times, or maybe especially in the tough times, be sure that you lift one another up. Every time you stop and tell your spouse thank you for something and stop to let them know you appreciate them, it’s a positive interaction. It lets them know that you admire, love, care about them and are not taking them for granted.
What to do if You do not Feel that You are Appreciated in your Marriage?
I almost hesitate to type this because I have a good marriage and I do feel appreciated. Please take this as advice from a friend. (I am not a professional marriage counselor). However, I do know that a lack of appreciation can take a serious toll on your marriage. If you are not feeling appreciated in your marriage, how much have you been communicating your appreciation for your spouse?
We all go through stressful times. Sometimes, I’m downright cranky and hard to live with. What turns it around the quickest is not when my husband lashes back at me (which he rarely does.) It’s when he is super sweet to me. Even when I’m so mad I’m about to explode or I’m super stressed, when he goes out of his way to appreciate me, do something for me and be extra sweet, I will come around.
Love is a Verb
Love is one of those unique words that can be both a noun and a verb. It can describe a feeling (noun) but in it’s most powerful form, it’s a verb. Sometimes the action comes before the feeling. You can do something nice for someone even if you do not feel strongly in the moment. Often times the feeling follows the action.
Appreciation in Marriage and Love Languages
Ask yourself what can you do for your spouse that would mean a lot to them? What is your spouse’s primary love language? The five love languages are:
- Words of Affirmation
- Quality Time
- Acts of Service
- Physical Touch
For most of us, one or maybe two of those will resonate with us the most. The kicker here is that most of the time, your primary love language and your spouse’s will not be the same. People give love in the way that they most like to receive love. As I said earlier, one of the ways that I show appreciation in marriage is by writing my husband a love letter. He likes it, and words of affirmation are ok, but no matter how sweet the letter is, he will not be as deeply moved by it as I would be if I were on the receiving end. It’s not his primary love language.
I write those letters for him, but also for me and to share with you. Writing them reminds me how amazing he is. So, if I really want to use love as a verb and do something for him that means more, I will spend some quality time with him. That is the best way that I can show my appreciation for him and how hard he works for our family.
Special Notes on Appreciation in Marriage for Husbands and Wives
Men and women think differently and thus have some special needs. Our brains are just wired differently from a biological aspect. Hence, I wanted to give a few special notes to both husbands and wives.
Appreciation in Marriage – Special Note for Wives
Alright, ladies, listen up. I’m going to tell you a secret about men. They like to be admired. There is a reason that the knight in shining armor is always a man going to rescue a princess. It makes them feel manly to be admired. Showing appreciation for our husbands is very important for our marriages. They need the admiration, but more importantly the respect of their wives.
Husbands don’t like being talked to like we talk to the kids. Give consideration to his feelings. Know that he’s not a perfect person, just as you are not perfect. But love him anyway, just as he loves you. He has feelings too that you need to consider when giving a decision. God created wives to be a help-mate for the husband. He needs your support, respect, and appreciation, along with your love.
Appreciation in Marriage – Special Note for Husbands
Alright, men. It’s your turn. (You didn’t think I would leave you out, did you?) Your wife needs you to tell her that you appreciate her. She needs to know how you feel about her. Tell her that she’s the most important thing in your life right now. Let her know that you see and appreciate all the things that she does for you and your family.
Women are much more verbal than men. According to Psychology Today, on average, a woman talks at 250 words per minute, compared to a man’s 125 words per minute.
Here’s something very simple that you can do for your wife to let her know that she’s loved and appreciated – listen to her. Don’t try to solve her problems. Especially if she has been at home all day with no one to talk to but the kids, she needs to get some of those words out. Ask her how her day was, ask her how she feels about things. Women deal with things largely by talking them out. I know it may seem like she’s following a spaghetti noodle train of thought, but that’s how she thinks. When she’s done talking, say these three magic words, “Tell me more.” Pay attention to what she’s saying. Listen to the underlying feelings. Try to really understand where she’s coming from. She needs that communication from you and for you to tell her that you appreciate her.
How Do You Show Appreciation in Marriage?
You can’t control how or if your spouse shows appreciation in your marriage. However, you are in complete control of your own actions. When you show appreciation for your spouse, they are more likely to reciprocate. Just the act of showing appreciation can help remind you of the good things and good times. Gratitude can transform your marriage. Without further ado, here are 27 ideas for ways to show appreciation to your spouse!
- Write them a letter of appreciation – if nothing else, it will make you think about how amazing they are. Sometimes it takes writing it out for me to remember how awesome my husband is.
- Fix their lunch
- Get up with them before they go to work if they leave earlier than you do
- Greet them with a kiss and a hug when they come home
- Leave them a note of encouragement
- Post on social media bragging on them
- cook their favorite meal
- Arrange a date night (Even if it’s at home after the kids are in bed)
- take care of a chore that they usually do
- Surprise them with a gift
- Text them in the middle of the day and tell them you love them
- Ask if they need you to pick up anything for them on your way home or while you are out
- Make a list of all their good qualities
- Try to give more than you take
- Hide a card for them to find
- Hold hands
- Tell them that they are a good parent
- Make their favorite snack
- Do one of their favorite activities together (even if you are not sure if it will be your cup of tea, give it a try anyway!)
- Make a playlist of something you know they will enjoy or songs that make you think of them.
- Be goofy together ( This includes singing in the car together – even at stoplights)
- Let them know that you believe in them and their dreams
- give them a massage
- Fill their car up with gas
- Let them sleep in
- Take a genuine interest in their favorite tv show or activity
- Give them your undivided attention and listen with interest
The Most Romantic Thing My Husband Has Ever Done to Show Appreciation for Me
One of the most romantic things that my husband has ever done for me is he saw a need and he filled it. I was exhausted from caring for our infant son and our toddler. It had been a rough week as far as sleep went. Everything seemed gloomy and wrong. He told me, “Go take a nap. I will take care of the kids and everything. You go sleep.” I nearly cried from relief.
When I awoke, 3 hours later I walked out of our room and into a spotless house. He told me he appreciated me and everything I did and wanted to make things easier for me by taking care of the things that were stressing me out. I will ALWAYS remember that.
The Last Thing You Need to Know About Appreciation in Marriage
Above all, if I had to pick one thing that is absolutely vital to a happy marriage, it would be communication. When communication breaks down, the marriage breaks down. Showing appreciation in marriage is a great way to keep those lines of communication open. It goes towards that healthy 5:1 ratio of positive vs negative interactions that couples need to keep their relationship healthy. No one wants to be taken for granted. We all want to feel loved, valued and appreciated.
When we show our appreciation for our spouse, it makes them want to reciprocate. As you know, negative things are easy to find, but we often have to look for the positive ones. Whichever one we choose to focus on, that’s what we will start seeing more of. What do you want to focus on? What can you do to show your spouse that you appreciate them today? Leave me a comment below! I love hearing from you.
Recommended (and Referenced) Reading
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These are books that I have personally read and found helpful in my own marriage. I hope you enjoy them as well!
Men are Like Waffles, Women are Like Spaghetti – This was one of the first relationship books that I ever read. It cites the differences in how men and women think and relate. My husband and I still laugh and make references to this book from time to time. It’s funny, interesting, and very relatable!
The Five Love Languages – This New York Times Best Seller for 8 years running is celebrating its 25th year. This was probably the second book on relationships that I ever read. It was phenomenal! Gary Chapman has counseled many married couples and he offers great practical advice that has gotten more than one marriage off the rocks and enriched countless others.
The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands– Dr. Laura will tell you what she thinks straight up. She’s rather blunt. While I agree with her and found this a good read, she may be an acquired taste for some. She is no-nonsense and direct. That being said, I read and discussed this with my husband on a road trip and he was nodding along and confirming both from his own experience and what he has heard from his friends. If you don’t mind a bit of tough love and need some no-nonsense marriage advice, this is the book for you.