Have you ever caught yourself saying, “My husband doesn’t appreciate me”? The desire for appreciation and validation is a natural one. We all want a relationship that makes us feel good about ourselves.
Research has shown that an atmosphere of warmth and appreciation is vital to the health of a marriage. Renowned marriage researcher Dr. John Gottman found that couples in long, happy marriages make a habit of noticing the positives. In fact, they typically make about 20 positive statements for every negative one during everyday conversations with their spouse. And even during times of conflict, that ratio of positive to negative is about five to one!
With appreciation being so important, you’re justified in complaining about your husband’s lack of it, right? Well, it’s natural to want appreciation, but waiting for your husband to get the ball rolling is likely to result in continued frustration. He probably doesn’t realize you’re feeling unappreciated. He may not fully grasp everything you do for the family or even why some of it is necessary.
As a woman, your focus may be on maintaining high standards for your home, parenting, and appearance because women are judged more harshly than men in these realms. Since the success and worth of a man is measured differently, your husband may be puzzled by why you’re working so hard and tell you, “Just don’t do it!” if you complain about exhaustion.
Rather than waiting for your husband to notice your contributions, a better strategy is to start showing more appreciation yourself, which will lead your husband to reciprocate. Since men are under pressure to be strong, capable, and confident, genuinely acknowledging these particular qualities may be especially meaningful. I get that this might feel unfair, but I urge you to try it out for a few days as an experiment. You may be surprised to find out that your husband has been feeling some of the same hunger for appreciation as you.
It’s common for husbands and wives to start to take each other for granted. But being deliberate about kindness and appreciation can protect your relationship from stagnation and resentment. Every day this week, make it a goal to notice three positive things about your partner and compliment him on them. Stick with this marriage-boosting habit, and you’ll notice the mood starting to change in your relationship.