We have the tendency to unconsciously overestimate our contributions relative to that of others. It is called “unconscious over claiming.” For example, in one study, when students in a work group each estimated their contribution to the team, the total was 139 percent.
Likewise, in a relationship, if you ask the husband, he will tell you that he is working like a donkey to keep the house together and to provide for his family and that he is doing more than his fair share. If you ask the wife, she will tell you that she is cooking three times a day, taking care of the kids, doing the domestic chores apart from her official work and that she is doing more than normal for her family. Undoubtedly, both of them are putting in their efforts. Are they feeling appreciated enough for their efforts or do they feel overburdened by it? That is the question. Secondly, do they feel their partner is sharing their responsibility equally? If they do feel appreciated & their respective roles enjoyable, it is the ideal situation. However, most couples over time start feeling lack of appreciation and their roles burdensome and might even blame their partners for not sharing their ‘burden.’
Most of the burden that the couples feel is on a mental plane because physically our bodies can take a lot more work load if on the mental level we are not already feeling saturated. Most of the saturation comes from lack of appreciation. When there is no appreciation of each other’s contribution, we feel, ‘mentally overburdened.’ A husband who doesn’t feel appreciated for his contributions will start spending more time outside of home either at work or at a place where he feels appreciated, will slowly wean from his duties on the home front, adding to the ‘mental burden’ of his wife. A wife who feels unappreciated, withdraws or shows her anger all the time, adding to the complexity of the situation and to the ‘mental burden’ of her husband. If the situation persists longer with no effort to rectify it or non-communication, then it either perpetuates into ‘blame games,’ or fights or if the mode of reaction of either of the partner is passive anger, then silence just keeps widening the distance between them.
Breaking this vicious cycle means keeping our egoistic agendas aside and truly helping the other person by understanding and appreciating his or her contributions to the family. It means good amount of mental preparation and making a fresh commitment towards the family.
Sometimes it becomes easy to notice all that our spouse doesn’t do. So, if you struggle with a critical spirit toward your spouse, you must also deal in rooting out your negative quality of criticism. Criticism tears down a marriage, while appreciation builds up a relationship. When we appreciate each other, the other person not only feels good about himself/herself but also feels understood and motivated to do more.
So, if you are caught in this habit of not appreciating your spouse for all the hardwork he/ she puts in to keep the family going together, I suggest that you pick up a pen and paper right now and make a list of things that he/she does everyday that you appreciate but have hardly communicated to the other. Whatever you observe, make sure that you sincerely applaud the action. Sincerity will cause your appreciation to touch the heart and soul of your loved one. Then, link the action to a quality of character. This takes more skill. Some
excellent qualities to consider connecting to actions are:
When you use qualities like these in an acknowledgement, it spreads light into the recipient’s heart, encourages them to be aware of and keep practicing the quality, and creates a positive bond of appreciation or love between you. An example is:
“I appreciate how thoughtful you are in our relationship. Making sure we have breakfast every morning, packing my lunch, and getting back early from office to ensure that the kids do their homework and preparing dinner for the family so as to make our lives together smoother and easier.”
How can I appreciate my spouse? I seem to have long forgotten that art! I feel too embarrassed/ reluctant to start doing something new! Everything seems to be going fine, why bother doing something new? If these are your thoughts, remember: your spouse is ‘the’ most important person in your life and he/she is god’s gift to you so that you have a companion for life and with his/her help you can perfect your life! Probably ‘this’ is your only chance to show how much you appreciate him/her in your life! So, waste no time!
If only we can just appreciate what we have been given, God will reveal Himself to us – Radhanath Swami