I got a text from Anne the other day. She’s been getting in the habit of dreaming/thinking about marriage blogs during her running times (I’m beginning to rub off on her). She’s begun to make a list of needed topics for our weekly marriage blog. Today was first on her list.
It amazing me how often this subject comes up. Whether it’s someone talking about their job, their volunteer work, or a sensation in their family, there are so many people feeling under-appreciated. Of all places, marriage shouldn’t be one of those places.
When it comes to marriage, both husbands and wives should be thankful and appreciative of their spouse. But I feel it should be more often. I added the “more often” because I’m willing to bet that most of you reading this are already appreciative of your spouse . Like me, perhaps there’s also room for improvement. About a month and a half ago, I preached a message on “encouragement” and I feel I can’t get that message out enough. And I believe part of “encouragement” is showing appreciation.
My question for you today: Are you building a culture of appreciation.
Here’s what I mean.
I’ll admit that I’m not always appreciative of Anne…at least not as much as I could be.
– There are days when I tell her how much I appreciate her. These are our “cheesy” moments!
– There are days when I appreciate the things Anne does to make my life easier…but I just don’t tell her that. I’m not sure why. I figure she already knows how I feel anyways.
– There are days when Anne’s less than desirable qualities overshadow her desirable qualities and I am clearly NOT appreciative of anything at that moment.
I know I should be doing more of the first statement, But I don’t. Why? Well, the reasons vary. I may be tired. I may be grouchy. I could be too stubborn because I want to be complemented first. Anne may be in a bad mood. We may have gotten into an “disagreement”. I may just not feel like it because of all of the aforementioned reasons. In other words, I’m human; I act less than an ideal at times. Not a cop-out, just a fact.
How do we make our spouse feel under-appreciated?
1 – Take for granted what they do. It seems like after the “honeymoon” phase of life, we stop noticing what our spouse does. Whether their job, things around the house, or stuff that involves the kids, stop noticing how hard they work.
2 – Feel entitled to the little things. Entitlement give you a superiority complex with your spouse. And that doesn’t feed the oneness of the marriage. It rips it apart. “I’m entitled to __________…she/he’s my spouse! I shouldn’t have to ask for ________” Guard yourself from entitlement.
3 – Make sure you deserve more. This is where you see that your spouse has had a rough day but, you build up your day as to say, “you think you had it bad, you didn’t have to deal with what I did today.” Not only have you missed the opportunity to pour healing into your mate, you’ve selfishly diverted any appreciation and encouragement that was needed for them back onto you. I’m not keeping you from feeling appreciated. BUT some people struggle with other people being blessed besides themselves. Be other-centered.
3 – Criticism. Some people, I think, don’t really hear how pessimistic they are. Maybe they don’t realize that criticism is the first thing to come out of their mouth. “We’ll I don’t want them to get a big head”, or “I don’t want their hopes to build up” or even better, “I’m just keeping it real.” I’ll give ya a TRUTH: Criticism without encouragement isn’t help. It’s abuse. Let the Holy Spirit do the job of keeping them humble.
Ephesians 4:29 Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, that it may give grace to those who hear. That word “edification” means the act of promoting other’s growth. With your words and actions of appreciation, you are literally building them up and promoting growth in their life.
I want to give you another TRUTH: Everyone needs to feel appreciated. In your marriage, this is so, so extremely vital. When one spouse feels under-appreciated, things go awry. And the crazy thing is, you may not even realize this until they mention it. I don’t always realize I’m like this until Anne and I have both alluded to the fact that we didn’t feel appreciated by the other for one reason or another. At this point, whoever was the listener goes into “damage control” and offers a “token appreciation.” The problem is I don’t like the idea of responding after-the-fact to things. I’d rather be proactive in every area of my life (or at least I do my best to be proactive). And proactive means telling my wife how appreciative I am of her so she doesn’t think otherwise (and vice versa). Citing examples of what specifically she does — the little things or the big things — is even better. (It shows I’m not just parroting empty marriage advice.) It’s funny too, to see my husband’s reaction when I do tell him how much I appreciate him, because it catches him off guard at first but then he appreciates me for saying it. It’s a nice feeling.
Some ways to express appreciation:
1 – Speak appreciation; communicate it so they can hear it. Most of you know what language your spouse hears. Is it physical touch? Is it words of affirmation? Gifts? Whatever language they speak, express appreciation back to them. Cite examples. List them out. This tells them (1) you cared enough to notice something and (2) you cared enough to give appreciation in a language he/she understands.
2 – Plan out appreciation. Get a baby sitter and plan an evening out together as pure appreciation for your spouse. Better yet, plan a weekend away WITHOUT kids. Make the plans about what your spouse would enjoy the most. Appreciation is where the line “it’s the thought that counts” really rings true. It doesn’t have to be an expensive plan. Just the fact that there is a plan carried out and expressed will do so much.
3 – Live out appreciation; make it a daily habit! Be proactive with appreciation in your marriage! Tell them how much you appreciate them daily. Don’t give a token “thank you” but specifically cite examples. “I really appreciate when you do _____” , or even,”Thanks for doing _____. I really appreciate it!” By doing so, you ensure you have a spouse who feels appreciated and who more than likely, will reveal their appreciation of you in return.
Remember this last TRUTH: An appreciated spouse always makes for a happier spouse!
Thanks for letting me ramble…