Appreciation is important to me, even on a superficial level. When I open a door for someone and that person says, “Thank you,” I feel warm and affirmed.
When someone opens a gift from me, looks at me, and says, “Thank you,” I’m pleased.
When someone says, “Thanks for the wedding gift. We love those glasses!” I’m gratified. I don’t need a fancy, handwritten, etiquettely proper note on vellum stationery to make me feel appreciated. Just knowing they know I gave them something they enjoy is enough.
I even make a great effort to appreciate my husband two or three times every day. Even something as simple as “Thanks for taking out the kitchen trash” helps strengthen his awareness that I appreciate him. Or so I thought.
In preparation for the parenting class we’re teaching, I mentioned the importance of appreciation in a marriage. I’m aware that he thanks me for editing his blog posts, for checking his slides before a program, for cooking a meal he enjoys. So I, knowing what an effort I’ve made the last couple of years, said, “I think we both show appreciation, don’t you?” I expected a positive response. Instead, I got, “You think so?”
So I was stunned. Had he not noticed how often I thank him? Are his own thanks so automatic that he doesn’t know he’s thanking me? I still don’t know the answers to those questions.
But it brought to mind a larger issue—love languages. We recently reviewed the five love languages outlined in Gary Chapman’s The Five Love Languages and revisited them in our parenting materials from Growing Kids God’s Way by Gary and Anne Marie Ezzo.
The five love languages are:
- Quality time
- Words of affirmation
- Physical touch
- Acts of service
Even though we all, in general, like all five from those we love, our particular love language—the way in which we feel most loved—reduces the other four to being negligible.
Years ago, we determined via the questionnaires in Chapman’s book that Steve’s love language is quality time. He wants undivided attention. Until we identified that characteristic that is so important to him, I couldn’t understand why he didn’t want to talk to me while I was cooking dinner. He couldn’t understand why I didn’t want to sit with him when he wanted to talk. We began to work it out. “Porch time” became important to us both.
My reward for sitting with him for a while was beginning to understand him better. He didn’t come home and blurt out what had happened all day. He had to have some quiet down time before his thoughts came together and he could verbalize his experiences and feelings.
So when he hadn’t noticed my efforts at showing appreciation, I shouldn’t have been so surprised. Although he enjoys words of affirmation from me and anyone else, it’s not what he yearns for.
So am I off the hook for showing appreciation? No way! It never hurts to show appreciation. I’ve written about that before. See “The Most Underrated Aspect of a Relationship.”
And it’s good discipline for me simply to realize how many times he does things worthy of appreciation. After all, how many husbands do all the laundry, do their own ironing, and are always saying, “You don’t need to cook tonight. Let’s just eat out.” Not many! I think I’ll keep him. He’s a gem.