Julie and I returned from presenting at the Theology of the Body Congress in Ontario, California on Sunday. Before she could get her bags unpacked she was already preparing to leave again on Monday. This time, she was joining her parents to visit her 102-year-old grandmother in Iowa. Not that I needed this time alone with the kids to understand this fact, but I was ever so gently reminded of how much I needed her, and, more importantly, how much she does for the kids and me. So, for the past three days, I’ve cooked, cleaned, grocery shopped, washed, ironed and completed many of the tasks that are, typically, done by Julie. I, of course, help out, but I assure you that, in the future, I will be helping out a lot more, and doing things to show her how much I appreciate her and her efforts around the house.
You know, this is, indeed, an area that causes a lot fo strife in a marriage. One never helps out enough, and one never acknowledges what the other spouse does, and the list goes on and on. This was a reminder for me, and maybe it can serve as one for you too, to fail to do for your spouse and to acknowledge the things that are done. We must never allow the other to feel as if he or she is taken for granted. So to eliminate this issue before it manifests, I want to give you a couple of exercises to do.
Appreciation Exercise #1 – How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
Make a list of your spouses’ best qualities and then give examples of them. For example, you might say “Knowledgeable.” And then write – “Who knows these things?” next to it. Or “Scrabble Champion.” You want to make sure these are qualities that impress you, that you are tickled by and that you appreciate. Practice writing a few down right now – you’ll be amazed by the fun memories you evoke for yourself. When you share the list with your spouse – they will be touched and likely feel the appreciation.
Appreciation Exercise #2 – Walk a Day In Their Shoes
It’s hard to relate to someone who doesn’t understand what you do or why you do it. Ask your spouse to make a list of all the things they do in a day. Seriously, if they get up early every morning, take care of the pets, get breakfast ready, get the kids up or even drive them to school. Just make a list of everything they do – then take a day and do it all for them. You will be them for that day – all the errands, all the necessities – everything. You may flub a few things and you may not be able to do it all (for example, chances are you can’t go to work for them) but you can try to walk in their shoes and see the day from their perspective. You may find that there were things you didn’t know, things you should be appreciating more and your spouse will be touched that you wanted to know.
Appreciation Exercise #3 – Make Them a Gift
Yes, it’s an old truism that you can buy a lot of things, but gifts that you make come straight from the heart. The first quilt I ever made, my husband begged me for. It was pink with flowers on it and he can’t stand pink, but he loves this quilt. It was the first one I’d made and he wanted it to be his. He talks about it every time quilting comes up or when he’s wrapped up in on the sofa. He calls it a personal hug from his wife – it meant a great deal to me that he wanted it, still wants it and knows that I made it just for him. He returned the favor one day when he built me some shelves in my sewing room. Nothing big or fancy, just three or four shelves so that I had a place to stack my fabrics. It was a great gift and it showed.
So, take some time today to show your spouse that you not only notice but appreciate the things that he or she does. Typically, when you do this the other is compelled to want to do it for you. Oh, and I can’t wait to see my wife tomorrow!