Should we stop expecting appreciation and praise from others? Is that the answer to a happy marriage or relationship?
According to the February chapter in The Happiness Project, for Gretchen Rubin, the answer to that question is yes.
For me, the answer is a big fat no. I should be able to expect a healthy amount of appreciation and praise from my partner. And if I don’t get it, that’s a problem.
Sure, a need for “gold stars” can be unhealthy.
I’m like Gretchen in the sense that we both like being acknowledged and praised for our accomplishments. It’s the gold star on your homework. The gold watch from your boss. It makes us feel good that our hard work is being seen and acknowledged.
In The Happiness Project, Gretchen recognizes that this need or expectation of appreciation and praise could stem from some undesirable feelings, including vanity or insecurity. And I get that. It can be exhausting and even dangerous to hinge your happiness on recognition from others. We should do things and achieve goals for ourselves–for our own appreciation and internal praise. If other people don’t recognize our awesomeness, we certainly should not let that bring us down.
For me personally, my husband is not “other people.” My husband is my husband. He is my chosen partner in crime. The loving and unconditionally supportive witness to my life. The cheerleader of my dreams. And one of his spousal duties is to show me appreciation. That includes the hopefully not too occasional “thank you” and “great job, babe.”
And frankly, if you can’t expect appreciation and praise from your life partner, then what in the actual fuck?
For me, feeling appreciated is a sign of a healthy relationship.
In fact, one of the reasons I fell in love with my husband was that he showers me with praise and works hard to make sure I see my own awesomeness.
“Great job finishing that brief, babe!”
“The coffee/creamer ratio this morning is spot on, babe!”
“Cute Instagram story, babe!”
“Your students are so lucky to have you, babe!”
And no, I didn’t need the praise to keep doing what I was doing. I didn’t write killer legal briefs back in the day because I thought it would make my then-boyfriend like me more. I wrote them because my client’s livelihood depended on it and I enjoy the satisfaction of writing a well researched and tightly written argument.
And I don’t expect appreciation or praise for getting the coffee and creamer ratio right in the morning. I mean, if I do anything strictly for myself it’s make coffee! Nonetheless, it feels nice to have someone else (especially a coffee snob like my husband) appreciate my java-related handiwork.
I will never stop expecting appreciation or praise from my husband. And I think Mr. Gretchen Rubin needs to thank his lucky stars that his wife is so understanding about his possible shortcoming in this area. I would not be so generous.
Why I’m so demanding when it comes to appreciation
If this chapter has taught me anything, it’s that we all have different ways of expressing and receiving love. in other words, we speak and understand different love languages. Some people, like me, require words of affirmation. Others speak the love language of gift-giving. Yet others receive love best in the form of quality time and undivided attention.
While reading the February chapter of The Happiness Project, it became evident to me that we don’t always speak the same love language as our partner. To make a relationship work, we may need to realize that our partner doesn’t necessarily speak the same love language as we do, and we may need to bust out with some Rosetta Stone or Babbel action in the name of love.
It’s a valuable lesson in appreciation and compromise.
Interested in love languages? Good, because it’s our next book club pick!
If you’re as curious about the different ways we give and receive love and how understanding these “love languages” can improve communication and happiness in our relationships, then you are in for a treat! Because our next book club read is The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
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How much appreciation and praise do you expect in a relationship?
Let me know what you think about the benefits and limitations to expecting or requesting appreciation in a relationship. How have you experienced this in your various relationships, whether romantic or not? How important is it to you?
Want to keep reading?
If you missed it, check out last month’s discussion about The Happiness Project.