Nov 172015 14 Responses

Appreciation in Marriage

It had been a long day. Most days aren’t that way, but this day had been crazy. It began early, ended late, and was packed for every second in-between. As an introvert, I was exhausted. I love people, but I need time by myself in order to rejuvenate.

Jenny knows this. Although she worked all day including the last two hours with kids in the house, she knew what I needed. She took the kids, left the house, and gave me an hour to decompress.

I felt many things in response to this, but the most prevailing emotion was appreciation.

An important element for a healthy marriage is a deep sense of appreciation.

The Loss of Appreciation

It’s a temptation we all face. Proximity can breed apathy. After experiencing something for a long period of time, we can lose sight of the good we have. As time passes, we lose appreciation for the most important people around us. (See: Dangerous Leadership–When Power Intersects a Lack of Appreciation)

No marriage is exempt from seasons in which spouses fail to communicate appreciation for the other. Life gets busy, we become focused on our own tasks, and we fail to recognize the contribution our spouse is making toward our lives. It’s expected to happen in seasons, but it’s inexcusable for it to be an ongoing characteristic of marriage.

Appreciation is a vital aspect of marital satisfaction. It might be an oversimplification, but many times we are satisfied to the extent that we feel appreciated.

While appreciation is often a byproduct of a healthy marriage, it also helps create the healthiness. Because the human tendency is to grow accustomed to things we see on a regular basis, a couple must diligently cultivate a culture of appreciation within their marriage. (See: What Men Can Do For Marriage)

Appreciation must be:

Felt. It’s not enough to cognitively know our spouse is adding to our life. We have to feel it. We wrongly assume we don’t control our feelings, but our feelings are much more under our control than we realize. We can feel appreciation as we take the time to focus on what our spouse is doing, understanding their contribution, and recognizing how our lives are bettered by them.

Expressed. Once appreciation is felt, it must be expressed. We must find meaningful ways to communicate our gratitude to our spouse. Not only must we express it, but we must express it in the most likely ways our spouse will hear it. One of the best questions we can ask is–what are three instances in which you felt appreciated by me? The answers will give us insight into how our spouse best receives expressions of appreciation. (See: People Fall in Love in Mysterious Ways)

Reciprocated. While feeling and expressing appreciation is important, it’s not fully experienced until it is reciprocated. Feeling gratitude for what my spouse does for me should motivate me to work harder in serving them. In the best of scenarios, both spouses experience a repeated cycle of feeling, expressing, and reciprocating appreciation for one another. This creates a positive momentum in which each spouse feels appreciated and challenged to show appreciation for the other.

The Result of Appreciation

The presence of appreciation can have dramatic effects on a marriage. When we appreciate someone, we treat them differently. Without the feeling, we can be cold, mean, indifferent, or antagonistic.

When we appreciate someone, we:

1. Empathize with them

2. Forgive them

3. Listen to them

4. Enjoy their company

5. Give them grace

6. Serve them

Appreciation shouldn’t be faked. If a relationship is bad, a couple can’t pretend like everything is good and muster up a false gratitude for one another. Instead, the difficult issues must be confronted and a couple has to do the work to heal their relationship.

However, in a generally good marriage, the presence of appreciation can drastically transform the relationship. By intentionally developing appreciation for one another, a good relationship can become great.


14 Responses to Appreciation in Marriage
  1. […] As a relationship goes bad, couples stop interacting with one another on an equal plane and start tr...
  2. […] What have we grown to appreciate? In unhealthy couples, differences or misunderstandings can greatly...
  3. […] Lack of appreciation can be a bigger problem in marriage. […]...

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