Thanksgiving. A day to gorge to the point of grossing out even yourself, and plod into ‘the other room’ to veg/pass out with football… Um, yeah… how exactly does that reflect our gratitude? This got me thinking about how much great stuff we do every day, that goes unnoticed. Folks come into my office complaining of feeling under- or un-appreciated for all that they do – They’ll paint their partner as a blundering ogre or an entitled diva, only to have that same person insist, “Honey, I do appreciate you…” and talk about about how the family wouldn’t run without them. This comes as such a surprise that one, or both of them end up in tears – Why? Because the gratitude has been so absent for so long. Yeowch.
Appreciating what your partner does every day is of course, important as hell. But actually expressing gratitude is something different. It requires you to slow down and actively engage in a process that points out to both of you just how much you mean to each other. We don’t do a lot of that, not on a regular basis. In fact, sometimes people feel like saying “thank you” would make their partner suddenly stop doing it, like suddenly taking out the garbage or washing the dishes becomes an added bonus chore?! Really?! You know what’s worse?! I actually see their point! How screwed up have we become that we can’t even say “thank you“ and have that feel so good for both people?! Don’t even get me started on saying “please” – it’s kind of the same dynamic.
Let’s start Thanksgiving a little early this year. Just for today, say “thank you” to your partner for each thing you notice them doing that’s positive. Whether it’s helping the kids with homework, parking the car ‘the right way’, or just locking up at night, say “thanks for doing that”. Oh, and if they respond with sarcasm, wonder what’s gotten into you, or even try to brush it off (i.e. – I do this every day!) Heres what you do – you look at them, smile a little, and respond, “I know, I just want you to know that I appreciate you.” If it seems effective, maybe you do it again tomorrow. Maybe pretty soon, you’ll be getting a little more, um, satisfaction in your relationship… and then you can thank ME!!! Everyone wins.