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Show appreciation to your spouse

Expression of appreciation is one of the missing elements in many romantic relationships. Too many spouses take each other for granted. They expect the love they have for each other to just last without having to do anything. This is false and dangerous. Words that can help us understand the meaning and importance of appreciation are gratitude, thankfulness, gratefulness. Spouses are to find ways to show daily how much they are grateful for their partners. No day should pass without a spouse showing with words and action how much they love their partner.

When was the last time you said thank you to your spouse?

When was the last time you told your spouse that they are lovely?

Remember, once is not enough. Husbands, never allow your spouse to leave home to go to work, church, or even a picnic, without complimenting her on how beautiful she looks. She would have taken her time getting ready and you do not say anything. Then, the first person that sees her gives her compliments. That’s not good.

This goes for wives as well.

According to experts, there are at least four elements of appreciation:

Acknowledgment: The first step each of us can take in expressing our appreciation to our partner is to acknowledge the things he or she does. Expressing appreciation for the little things cumulatively builds a rock-solid foundation. Receiving acknowledgment helps each of us grow as individuals and, sometimes, just survive the daily hassles of hectic schedules, deadlines and responsibilities in the various aspects of our lives.

Adoration: Praising each other for the qualities and attributes that make us special as individuals is crucial. Taking the time to genuinely let each other know how much we admire each other’s virtues brings joy to us and reinforces our continued individual and relationship growth.

Acceptance: Learning to accept each other as we are, rather than trying to change the other, is a difficult struggle and adjustment for most couples. Accepting each other as we are is a vital part of expressing appreciation in a marriage. Over time, we actually appreciate the differences and see the benefits they bring to us as individuals and as partners.

Affirmation: Letting each other know how important we are to each other. Affirmations are important in building and supporting each other’s sense of self-esteem. Affirming your spouse is a way of validating who they are. When we affirm each other, we kindle the depths of the soul of our marriage.

Here are a few examples of how you can affirm your spouse: Hold hands in the car when at the stoplight; wink at each other across a crowded room; give a love letter or card on days other than birthdays and anniversaries; jump surprisingly in the shower with her, but not for sexual fulfillment; take him a bunch of flowers you picked from your garden; give your wife a cool glass of water while she is cutting the grass; say good morning to your spouse; drive each other to work occasionally; eat lunch together regularly; cuddle in the living room without sex on the agenda; go on a date every week; gossip about your spouse to your friends as often as possible; have a photo of your spouse on your desk at work or in your wallet.

Research tells us that happy couples live longer and have healthier lives. According to psychologist Brent J. Atkinson, in his book, “Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy”, he writes, “Evidence suggests that those who succeed in their marriages will live an average of four years longer than those who don’t (Gottman & Silver, 1999). They will have an average of 35 percent less illness, have healthier immune systems, will be substantially less likely to become violent, homicidal, or suicidal, and less likely to experience an emotional or mental disorder. They will have a lower risk of being involved in automobile accidents. The children of those who succeed in their marriages will have fewer health problems, better academic performance, more social competence, less depression, less problems with social contact, more ability to regulate their emotions, lower heart rate physiological reactivity when experiencing negative emotions, and lower quantities of stress-related hormones circulating in their bodies.”

A study by the Association for Psychological Science, as early as 2019, indicates the same. Here is a summary of the research, “Research suggests that having a happy spouse leads to a longer marriage, and now study results show that it’s associated with a longer life, too.”

Do all you can to keep your marriage healthy and happy.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to question@soencouragment.org, telephone 327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.  

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