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  • Alisa Avruch

What's your excuse?


Appreciation is a tricky thing. On the one hand, we know it's a nice thing to do. It creates warm feelings. And we certainly like it when other people appreciate US, right?


But somehow, when it comes to marriage, we tend to slack off a bit. There's a tendency to take things for granted - after all, with so many interactions daily, who thinks about showing thanks?


But that's where we make out biggest mistake. Because when it comes to husbands, appreciation is the steam that runs their engine. The gas in their tank. The triple fudge sundae on the motivation-for-repeat-behavior rating scale.


I'm sure you have lots of excuses for why you don't thank your husband as frequently as you might. So I've prepared a handy-dandy guide for getting you out of your no-thanks rut and onto the sweet path of marital bliss and harmony (or at least a good part of the way in that direction).


Excuse #1: I do so much around here and he doesn't show ME any appreciation.

This is a doozy, isn't it? Because the tendency is to want to hold your appreciation hostage, waiting for him to ransom it out by offering you some thanks first. But in reality the opposite is true - thanking him makes it MORE likely (although not guaranteed) that he will appreciate you more.


Excuse #2: If I thank him for helping around the house, he will think it's optional and stop doing it.

This one takes a bit of mental acrobatics. I believe it's based on a uniquely feminine trait, of reserving effusive thanks for a task that is over-and-above, beyond the call of duty, or an unexpected surprise. Hence the inverse belief that the listener will translate "enthusiastic thanks" into "you didn't have to do that". If this has been your subconscious belief until now, I have great news - the male brain doesn't work that way. 'Nuff said.


Excuse #3: If I thank him for the little he does do, he will think it's enough and won't want to do more.

This one seems to make sense at first. After all, if putting his own dish into the dishwasher gets him a smile and a thanks, why clear the serving plates and the napkins? But in most cases, the opposite is true: appreciation leads to a desire to get MORE appreciation, hence more of whatever you were thanking for. (Caveat - do NOT make the mistake of adding on a new request to your thanks: "Thanks for clearing the table but can you sweep the floor?" That is a recipe for immediate regression).


Excuse #4: It's his house, his food, and his kids too - why should I thank him for fulfilling his own responsibilities?

Truthfully, even fulfilling expected responsibilities (like bringing parnassa, or learning) is an opportunity for appreciation. But when it comes to housework and childcare, remember this: for most men, this is not their primary tafkid. Even though our modern world has expectations that men will share in household responsibilities to varying degrees, it may not come naturally to your husband due to his upbringing or inherent nature. So a little thanks goes a long way.


Excuse #5: I don't want to stoke his ego.

If showing appreciation grates on your nerves, it's possible that you're resisting showing respect for your husband because you believe his ego needs to be taken down a few notches. You may be surprised to learn that the male need for respect and admiration is natural and necessary - parallel to a woman's need for love and affection. So instead of withholding appreciation in the name of ego reduction - why not give your husband what he wants the most (just like you would love for him to fulfill your needs and desires)?


Do any of these excuses resonate with you? Or do you have your own to add? I'd love to hear from you!

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