By Wilma Bedford
In a long-term relationship one of the straws that breaks the camel’s back is the danger that people start to take each other for granted and neglect being polite or saying thank you. Taking someone for granted is viewing the other person’s efforts to make a contribution as unimportant or effortless. It is the inability to notice that your partner is making life easier for you (or you for your partner) by performing routine tasks. The pandemic has led to the people in the relationship performing more tasks in the household than they would normally do, for which they receive no gratitude or acknowledgement and this leads to conflict.
How do you protect each other against being taken for granted? When partners appreciate each other and acknowledge their respective inputs, they build a protective net against negative communication, such as aggressive criticism or remaining silent to avoid conflict. In this way they build stability and quality into their relationship.
Appreciation and gratitude prevent that downward spiral in a romantic relationship where one person says something harsh and the other person reacts in an even harsher manner. Gratitude works in the opposite way. When you feel appreciated for your inputs you are more inclined to do something good for your partner, who in his/her turn will go out of his/her way to be good to you.
How you show your gratitude is important. To merely say thank you isn’t good enough, a disposition of gratitude is what counts; it’s to see and appreciate your partner’s value and appreciating it on a regular basis. Appreciation that doesn’t come across as genuine or that is a thoughtless, automatic response does not build a relationship.
Gary Chapman, marriage counsellor and author of The 5 Love languages, states that words of acknowledgement, quality time, receiving gifts, gestures of service and physical touch are the languages of love. Knowing your own and your partner’s love language will be the best way to show appreciation. If your partner would like to receive appreciation in the form of verbalisation, a note or an sms or a direct verbalisation will have a bigger impact than an expensive gift.
By offering acknowledgement and appreciation, not only for the gesture but also for who the person is, is the best way of being appreciative; show appreciation for the fact that the person remembered to add your favourite chocolate to the grocery basket or was considerate in helping you with tasks around the house. Focus on how you benefited from your partner’s thoughtful action; tell your partner that because he/she watered the garden you had time to perform another important task.
Incorporate small gestures of appreciation into your daily routing, by for example just greeting him/her and asking how the day went when your partner gets home; it shows you really care and that you are glad he/she is in your life.
Be specific when you tell your partner that you are grateful he/she is in your life. You could say, “I don’t know what I would do without you”, but by saying “I don’t know how I would have gotten through this dark time without your advice and emotional support”, you emphasise how much he/she really means to you; by being specific, he/she experiences your gratitude as sincere. Also be specific in the small things for which you say thank you: “Thank you for taking care of the pets while I was stuck in traffic”.
Take care of yourself and get enough sleep. Although sex and finances are the two greatest stressors in a relationship, sleep is just as important. Insufficient sleep can make you feel listless, too tired to be nice to your partner and can have both of you feeling aggrieved against each other about who causes the sleeplessness. This irritation (snoring etc.) infiltrates all other interaction. Discuss the issue with your partner and find a solution – even if it’s an expensive new mattress or separate rooms; your relationship is worth more than discomfort.
A playful way is to keep a journal in your kitchen or study in which you and your partner can write an appreciative message at any time to be read later. You may in the early morning find that your shirt has been ironed but your partner is still asleep; write a thank you message in the journal. It’s great to find a message and to reply to it.
Flirt with your partner – it’s a form of appreciation, as gratitude is to see and appreciate someone, to want them close to you and make them feel valuable and desirable. It may sound difficult if you have been in a relationship for a long time, but a well-meant compliment such as, “That shirt looks nice on you”, or “You smell nice”, followed by a wink, is a good starting point.
Do something special for your loved one for no specific reason and without expecting anything in return but just to show your appreciation. It can be something small, such as making coffee when your partner is working or to take the children out so that your partner can have time to him/herself. Give your partner a day off from all domestic responsibilities so that he/she can relax or do something he/she enjoys. Spoil your partner; if you have money, send him/her to a spa or out for a day’s golf, buy a cake for afternoon coffee. Send an sms just to say you appreciate and love the person or you are thinking of him/her – even if that person is sitting right in front of you at that very moment. It works wonders.
Most important of all is: Make time to talk to your partner and also just to listen. Assure him/her that you will always be there to support him/her.
Showing your partner more appreciation is one of the easiest ways to ensure that your relationship remains healthy. Most relationships that fail are due to the persons involved no longer verbalising their appreciation and gratitude and just starting to take each other for granted.
What Are the 5 Love Languages
The Most Effective Way to Thank Your Significant Other
Paul Nicolaus. June 21, 2021 The Atlantic
6 Small But Impactful Ways to Show Your Partner More Appreciation
Annie Daly https://www.self.com/sponsored/story/6-small-but-impactful-ways-to-show-your-partner-more-appreciation
8 Ways to Show Appreciation to the Love of Your Life
Mary Fisher 15 Jun, 2021 https://www.marriage.com/advice/love/8-ways-to-show-appreciation-to-the-love-of-your-life/