We all love to be appreciated. It feels good; it helps us to feel positive towards ourselves and towards the person expressing the appreciation. It is a genuinely loving gesture to express appreciation to another and, in marriage particularly, it is a positive relationship habit. Why is expressing appreciation of our spouse such a powerful force for good? Firstly, when we express appreciation we focus on the goodness in the other.
No matter how irritated or hurt we may be with each other, we can always find something to appreciate. The simple act of appreciation can help us tame any dwelling self-pity and build positive feelings of wellbeing. It helps us become more resilient and more able to tolerate each other’s failings. It is a practical form of that age old wisdom of ‘counting our blessings’. Regular appreciation of each other fosters the virtue of gratitude and enables us capitalize on the innate joyfulness in our life.
Secondly, a habit of daily appreciation works a treat when it comes to helping each other with ‘smart loving’ (see March 2011). If we feel most loved by our spouse when they act in a certain way, it helps them to know that by expressing our appreciation. This tells our spouse that they are loving us well and to keep it coming. If we are smart, we’ll be watching for the signs of appreciation to learn more about what really makes the love we give hit the mark.
Most of us inadvertently adopt a ‘dumb loving’ behavioural habit in marriage… we criticise our spouse for undesirable actions and remain silent on desirable ones. It leaves us in a constant state of failure and provides no pathway to success. It is far more effective (and enlivening) to focus on what works. After all, we all want success in marriage!