My mom, like most moms, gives me loads of advice. Much of it is about marriage. Thankfully, she’s not annoying about it. Maybe that’s why we’re still so close. 🙂
I usually take her advice seriously, because I know that she is a very happy person and has a lot to offer in the way of wisdom. I don’t subscribe to every single thing she says—who does?
But this one piece of marriage advice has stuck with me, and I swear by it:
Express gratitude for the things your spouse does, no matter how routine, no matter how small.
Why do I put stock in my mom’s marriage advice?
My parents have been married for 37 years.
Yeah. THIRTY. SEVEN.
To someone who’s been married a measly 5 (almost 6) years, this sounds like forever. And a half.
Not only are they still married after all this time, they’re like blissfully, disgustingly, still-holding-hands-and-cuddling-on-the-couch happy. And they seem to get happier with each passing year.
It’s kind of amazing, really.
What’s really amazing is that they’ve weathered some of the harshest of storms, somehow. They came out of the storms better than ever.
So, I think there is a lot of value in listening to her when she doles out marriage advice. Admittedly, I do brush off some of her ideas because they can sometimes be a little “50s housewife” for me, but this one really makes sense!
I talk a lot about modeling for your kids . . .
And model, they have.
For as long as I can remember, “Thank you for [doing the dishes],” has been a commonly-spoken phrase in my parents’ home. Usually it’s accompanied by a small kiss.
Yeah I know . . . as their kid, it’s totally gross to witness! But as an observer of a healthy marriage, it’s a super-important gesture.
The gratitude, followed by physical affection, keeps their bond firmly intact on a daily basis.
What it looks like in my marriage
As my husband and I have settled into a routine with caring for our home and caring for our son, routine (and non-routine) gratitude has become more important than ever.
It’s so easy to take your partner for granted, and it’s so, super easy to feel like you’re being taken for granted!
So, in my marriage, there are really two important parts to heeding my mom’s excellent advice:
1. Be aware.
I make a concerted effort to be aware of what’s happening in our home, and I try to acknowledge when my partner does something that makes our lives happier, easier, or just keeps the flow going.
Sometimes, it’s as simple as saying, “Thank you for being such a great partner.” That might sound silly, but in my mind it’s really important. I want Josh to know that I truly value everything he does in our relationship, and that I see our marriage as a partnership—that I don’t feel that either of us carries more than our fair share of the load.
2. Speak up.
If I am feeling unappreciated, I have to say something before that feeling turns to resentment. This involves a lot of introspection, because resentment builds quickly and without warning.
As with everything I write about on this blog, this aspect of our marriage is absolutely a work in progress. I’m sure it’s something we will never actually get perfect.
• There are days when I stand in the kitchen and visibly and audibly cringe at the way Josh loads the dishwasher: “Aack! If you don’t turn the big spoon upside down, it will collect water and gunk and be totally nasty!!”
Oops. Gratitude fail.
• There are days when I explode in a fury of tears, claiming that I am completely unappreciated for all of the things I do in this house.
Oops. I let it get too far, and didn’t talk about it soon enough. Martyr alert! Martyr alert!!!
But the point is that we are trying. And I really think it makes a huge difference.
One Last Thing
Since I just love to shove statistics and studies at you in my blog posts, I would be remiss if I didn’t let you know that many experts also tout the awesomeness of gratitude in marriage! You can read some of these opinions here, here, and here. You’re welcome. 🙂
What’s your take? Do you practice gratitude in your marriage? How does it work for you?
What is the best piece of marriage advice you’ve gotten?