The Importance of Appreciation in a Relationship

09/04/2017 06:12 am ET

Appreciation happens to be one of the 3 A’s in any healthy relationship:

  • Acceptance
  • Appreciation
  • Acknowledgement

As a keen observer, a common thing I happen to notice among many couples is appreciation. Or, to be more precise, the lack thereof. And it appears to be an increasingly common problem with couples who have been together for a while.

This begets the question:

Just how important is appreciation in a healthy relationship?

I feel, as human beings, we constantly crave for positive attention. And appreciating someone is the best way to go about doing it. The problem starts when we don’t even notice how we slipped into the habit of taking each other for granted and stopped caring for, and appreciating each other. This leads to other problems - arguments, frustration, resentment and suddenly we begin to wonder if this relationship is meant to work out.

Let’s look at a simple, and probably not too uncommon, scenario. Your partner always drops your kid(s) off to school. He, or she, has been doing it for a while now. But you never told them how much you appreciate them for it or acknowledged how thankful you are for it. What if he/she simply stopped one day? You would have to adjust your own schedule for it, probably start getting up slightly early in the morning, or stop watching your favorite breakfast show as you prepare to leave for work every day. What appears to be a simple thing, suddenly becomes important when it doesn’t get done!

When I suggest that couples start developing the habit of thanking and appreciating their partners for every little thing they do, I am often met with a frown or ridiculing looks. After all, what is the need to thank someone for a job that they are supposed to do anyway? Well, to me, that’s a problem. And a big one at that. It’s a sign that you think the bigger things you do (or you believe you do) are not as important as the little things that your partner does. And that’s where the balance in relationships starts to go off-scale.

Appreciation is a key to any relationship. Appreciating someone makes them feel good about what they do, and that it makes a difference to their lives. It makes them feel better about themselves, urging them to go on with new vigor, strengthening your relationship.

So, how do you know if your partner doesn’t feel appreciated?

There are some signs that suggest you may be taking things for granted in your relationship and your partner feels unappreciated because of that:

  • They get into arguments over little things
  • They have started acting more emotional lately
  • They are perhaps quieter than usual
  • They don’t ask for your opinion any more
  • They make plans without even consulting you
  • They are not enthusiastic about special occasions anymore
  • They don’t make an effort towards being romantic anymore
  • They appear more distant
  • They may be having an affair

There are two aspects to appreciation: one is based on time, and the other on focus. Time-based appreciation is a bit of a conundrum. With time, you either become more annoyed with your partner’s behavior, or you become more accepting. Now, which one it turns out to it is a matter of outlook.

Acceptance arises from your understanding that things are not likely to change over time and hence you become more accepting. Once you become accepting, you will find it easier to appreciate what they do. If you change your perspective, you may find even (what used to be) their most irritating habits may have some value in them. And this allows you to focus on what it is that makes them happy.

So, how do you show your appreciation to your partner?

There are some things that you may try:

  • Pay full attention when your partner speaks with you, making full eye contact. This assures them that you appreciate whatever it is that they have to tell you.
  • Thanking them for little things makes a big difference. Appreciate them if they iron your clothes or cook your food because you were too lazy or tired to do it.
  • Appreciate anything that adds value to your relationship and tell your partner about it regularly.
  • Let your partner know that you don’t take them for granted just because they have been doing something every day for the last year. “I really appreciate you doing the dishes every night after supper.” Or, “Darling I love how you keep my things ready as I prepare to dress for work. It feels so special.”
  • Appreciate them for being there with you through your ups and downs. They are the ones investing their time in you more than anyone else!
  • Acknowledge what you love about your partner, their family and their friends.
  • Compliment them on simple things – “I love how that yellow dress of yours makes you look radiant.”
  • Enjoy your time together, be playful, laugh and have fun while appreciating each other.
  • Most importantly, appreciate and express your love for your partner regularly. Healthy relationships are the ones that keep evolving and when it comes to love, appreciating someone is never enough.

When you have invested so much into a relationship, it feels wonderful to get a pat on the back for the efforts. Make appreciating your partner a priority to keep the spark alive.

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