Plenty of marriages flounder on such simple mistakes that it’s hard to believe. People really do get married, get busy, and forget to pay attention to their spouse, or to listen to their spouse, or to even be nice to their spouse.
Over months and years, this kind of neglect, even if it’s completely unintentional, builds up and becomes a serious problem.
Take a moment now and answer this question. Do you appreciate your spouse? Are you happy to be married to them? If the answer is no, look for a different column to read. But if the answer is, as I suppose, yes, then read on!
Here are some ways, both little and big ones, to make your spouse feel appreciated.
1. Tell Them
We’ll start with the easiest, most obvious, and most grown up way to make your spouse feel appreciated. Tell them.
This is such a no-brainer that many people don’t even think of it. Or they think – my spouse already knows I appreciate them; I don’t need to tell them.
You should tell your spouse you appreciate them every day. And you should also tell them you love them every day. Not in a perfunctory peck on the cheek way as you are rushing out the door to work, but while looking into their eyes, even if it’s just for a second.
When you call your spouse during the day, don’t immediately launch into what’s for dinner? or who’s picking up the kids? or did you get my email? Start by asking how they are – and really listen to the answer. And tell them the truth about how you are.
2. Listen to Them
Which brings me to the next way to show your spouse you appreciate them. Listen to them. Really listen. I don’t mean pretend to listen while checking your phone or staring off into the distance and thinking your own thoughts.
Look at them, make eye contact, and listen when they are talking. Your spouse can tell if you’re engaged and listening to what they say, and it makes a big difference. So put your phone in your pocket and pay attention to your spouse.
Some couples find it difficult to listen to each other without interrupting, so it’s a good idea to practice taking turns talking and listening. One spouse gets to talk for a few minutes while the other says nothing, just listens. Then you reverse roles. You’ll be surprised what you hear and what you learn about your spouse this way.
3. Don’t Take Them for Granted
This one may be easier said than done. But you can do it. Be aware of all the work your spouse does as part of your relationship and as part of your family. You should know what chores your spouse does, and you should make an effort to thank them for doing them.
Periodically you two should sit down together and go through all the household and relationship chores, from cleaning the toilets to doing the taxes, and everything in between. Work together to divide them up fairly.
You may not be able to perfectly divide all the chores, but if there’s something you particularly loathe doing, see if you can trade that for one of the chores your spouse likes least. Even if you don’t do this perfectly, just making the effort will remind you both that you appreciate each other.
Don’t take your spouse’s time for granted, either. If you’re ever going to be more than ten minutes late, call them or text them and let them know. This small gesture will prove to them that you value their time and you value them.
Those are some simple, everyday ways to remind your spouse you appreciate them. Of course, you’ll want to occasionally do some more spectacular, romantic things. Bring them flowers or chocolates. Write them a letter, on paper.
Give them the gift of a night or weekend away at a nice hotel or spa, while you take care of the kids or the dog. Or put the dog in a kennel and send the kids to grandma’s while both of you spend the night or weekend in a lovely hotel somewhere.
No matter how busy the two of you are, make time for each other. That’s a fantastic way to remind your spouse that you really appreciate them. Take a walk together, or a bike ride out in the fresh air. Go to a movie together, and then get coffee or have dinner afterwards to talk about the film. Show your spouse you appreciate their mind and their opinions by having this kind of thoughtful conversation together.
You know how to do all this romantic stuff, though maybe you’re out of practice.
Reminding yourself that you appreciate your spouse is the first step towards reminding them. If you need help getting started, just sit down and scribble out a list of all the things you appreciate about your spouse.
You needn’t show this list to your spouse, or to anyone at all – just making it will help change your own state of mind and will make you more overtly conscious of what you love about your spouse.
But you could certainly make a list like this and then sit down and read it to your spouse. Sometimes the direct approach really works best.