Relationships take effort, but here are simple ways to make the “work” feel pretty uncomplicated. For starters? Communicate appreciation whenever you can.
“I can live a whole month with one compliment.” —Mark Twain
Research shows that appreciation in a relationship is essential—as it helps foster connection, trust, and intimacy in your relationship.
It’s easy to take your partner for granted—especially when you have been together for a little while—but, it’s in your best interest to up your game in appreciating your partner. Experts say when you communicate appreciation to your partner, it works on your their psychological and emotional well-being, increasing their self-esteem. It also increases your partner’s desire to give you more. When you show appreciation in the smallest of ways, you build a bond of love in your relationship and ensuring the relationship doesn’t become stagnant, predictable, or boring.
“In a relationship, you need a habit of mind that scans the world for things to appreciate rather than criticize.” —John Gottman
If you are not appreciating, you are most probably criticizing.
Take an honest assessment of how frequently you criticize your partner. What common criticism(s) do you use with them? Critiques of their behavior? Their character? No judgments are being passed here—even the best of us are critical more often than we’d like to admit—it’s simply important to be honest about where we have room to improve our communication within the relationship.
Unfortunately, recent studies indicate that over time, negative sentiments override the positive feelings that partners have about one another. If you don’t actively cultivate an atmosphere of appreciation in your relationship, you may begin to see and hear negativity in each other, even when you say positive or neutral things.
Appreciating your partner makes them feel honored and treasured, but if you withhold appreciation from your partner, you may notice the following:
- Your partner slacks off or stops doing things they once did
- Your spouse becomes more emotional than normal
- Your partner is quicker to argue
- You feel a growing distance between the two of you
“Appreciation can make a day; even change a life. Your willingness to put it into words is all that’s necessary.” —Margaret Cousins
What to say to appreciate your partner:
We’re all busy and we might be caught up in our routines and ‘to do’ lists, but showing appreciation is simple. It does require conscious effort, though. You will be amazed at how much you can brighten your partner’s life just by showing appreciation.
“Appreciation is a currency that you can mint for yourself and spend without fear.” —Unknown
I am proud of you.
Letting your partner know you’re their biggest cheerleader is essential for a healthy relationship. You don’t have to wait for your partner to do something grand to express how proud of them you are. Did they do the dishes while you were out, or sweep the outside area? Express your appreciation. Let your partner know that their effort, big or small, isn’t going unnoticed.
You make me happy.
Of course you’re happy with your partner, but how often do you tell them? Letting your partner know how you feel has lasting benefits, so don’t miss an opportunity to show them how much they bring to your life.
You are hot/handsome/gorgeous!
If you don’t compliment your partner, how do you expect them to feel wanted and desired? It’s crucial to remind your partner that you find than as attractive today as you did when you first met. You’ll not only boost their confidence, sending them out into the world feeling good about themselves, but it’ll increase your feelings of desire and connection, too. Looking at your partner with an adoring lens inevitably sparks those warm, tingly feelings in you, too. Everyone wants to feel sexy and desirable, give your partner that gift today.
“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” —Voltaire
I miss you.
To be thought about and missed is a huge compliment. Telling your partner you miss them shows their presence contributes to your life in a largely positive way. With that knowledge, too, they will often make even more of an effort to spend time with you.
I love you because…
We’re good at saying ‘I love you’ when greeting or parting with our partner. They’re three little words that can lose their meaning if you only, always use them in this way, though. Go beyond ‘I love you’ and tell your partner why you love them:
- I love you because you make me feel good about myself
- I love you because you bring new awareness to my life
- I love you because I can be myself around you
- I love you because I can always talk to you
- I love you because you understand me
- I love you because you make me feel special
- I love you because you are determined to make this relationship work
- I love you because I can’t imagine life without you
You are my best friend.
Best friends are sacred. When you tell your partner that they’re your best friend, you’re communicating that you trust them with your heart, your secrets, your insecurities, and your dreams. You’re honoring them with every piece of your, humbling and flattering your partner in the process.
“The roots of all goodness lie in the soil of appreciation for goodness.” —Dalai Lama
I support you.
Even the most confident, self-assured partner needs a bolster of support from time to time. Are they nervous about a project that they’ve embarked on? Are they going through a difficult family situation? Letting your partner know that you’re in their corner (no matter what) and that you believe in their ability to handle whatever life throws at them, will bring a new level of appreciation to the special bond you share.
I believe in you.
We all go through periods when our confidence wanes and we experience self-doubt. It’s during these times when a kind word from our partner goes an awfully long way to carry us through the rough patch. If your partner is experiencing a particularly difficult time, remind them of how incredible they are and that you have endless faith that they have all it takes to make things work.
I am glad we are together.
Think about it, you could have been with anyone else in this world, but you chose this one person to share your life with—and you continue to choose them, too. The same can be said for your partner—they wanted you above all others. When you consider the likelihood of the two of you finding each other and ending up together in this great big world, it’s pretty remarkable. Why not honor those magic odds and remind your partner just how lucky you feel to be together?
It is amazing how often we say this to strangers but neglect to communicate it to our loved ones. Resist the urge to take your partner for granted and express your gratitude for the small and big things alike. When you start to pay attention, you’ll realize there’s a whole lot to feel grateful for.
“Appreciation, not possession, makes a thing ours.” — Marty Rubin
It is all about validation.
All people are looking for is validation—and your partner is no exception. Your partner wants to know that they matter and that what they’re doing is important.
Validation is a universal human need. Your partner wants to know that:
- You see them
- You hear them
- You care about them
- They matter to you
When your partner does not feel validated by you, they’ll look for validation elsewhere—diminishing the bond you have even further. As a spouse, it is your job to provide validation for your partner. The words may vary, but the idea is the same: I see it, I recognize it, and I am not keeping it to myself.
So what kind of culture have you cultivated in your relationship? Do you want to create a more positive and satisfying relationship with your partner? Commit to showing appreciation more often. ‘Catch’ your partner doing things that you like as often as possible and go out of your way to appreciate them for it.
Lead by example and help your partner increase feelings of fondness and admiration in your relationship.
Appreciating your partner is giving them their proper value. It allows them to know where they stand and what they mean to you—this, in turn, helps them to optimize how they show up for you in the relationship. It’s a win-win, for sure.
About the Author
Randy Skilton believes that our relationship with our partner starts in our mind. The way we think and feel about another person directly impacts the quality of our relationship. So he started RedesigningTheMind.com to flush the idea out more. When he’s not trying to hack relationships, you can find him with his wife and two kids, or if he’s really lucky, in the garden.