Let me begin to deal with APPRECIATION in marriage by explaining a basic human dynamic.
What gets your attention?
Think about it. Do you notice the beat of your heart, the comfort of a hot shower, or the milk in the refrigerator? My guess is that these things (and a million other things that are commonplace in your life) do NOT get your attention. And if they don’t get your attention, then they don’t get your appreciation. Unless of course you have just come back from doing a short spiritual course in Zen where they teach you to be mindful about everything little thing all day long which can be quite stressful atleast for me!
When was the last time you said to yourself, “Thank God my heart is beating!” After your last hot shower, did you jot a note of thanks to your local power company? I didn’t. Did you thank the breadwinner in your family last time you sat down to a hot meal of chicken curry and rice? Not likely, right?
Why aren’t we appreciative for the things that are so essential in our life? Without them we would be miserable. But as long as we have them, we don’t even notice. Can you imagine your first hot shower? What would you be thinking? What would you say to the person who served you your first home cooked meal? Do you think they’d feel appreciated? Would you find ways to express your thanks? I don’t think there’s any doubt that you’d feel enormous GRATITUDE and that your hosts would feel deeply appreciated.
What stirs gratitude within us? It’s when we’re the recipient of UNUSUAL kindness. When I say “unusual,” I don’t mean extraordinary; I mean not-usual, uncommon, or infrequent. But when events become the norm our gratitude slumbers. Hu
man nature is such that there is an INVERSE relationship between frequency and appreciation. The more you get it (whatever “it” is), the more you expect it, and the less likely you are to appreciate it. And it makes no difference how crucial “it” is. The beat of your heart is a perfect example. There is nothing more crucial in your life. But there’s also nothing more frequent. And probably nothing you take more for granted.
Husbands And Wives Are Taken for Granted
This explains why it’s so common for spouses to take each other for granted! As the frequency with which we do things for each other increases (as the years go by), the experience (and the expression) of gratitude decreases. It gets to the point where people peripheral to the marriage feel more valued than husbands and wives feel toward each other. Husbands and wives do more for each other than anyone else in their lives, but THAT’S THE PROBLEM! A man’s wife, for example, has rubbed his neck, kept a stock of his favorite cigars, and planned their anniversary celebration every year for 23 years. But he feels and expresses more gratitude when his new secretary brings him a gift from her trip to Nepal!
A woman’s husband has done all the heavy household work, paid the bills, and taken her away on her birthday every year for 23 years. But she felt and expressed more gratitude when Manoj Uncle fixed the kitchen sink. There’s an irony to this dynamic. We’re so appreciative when someone does something for us ONCE, right? So whatever it was that warranted our gratitude once, shouldn’t it warrant more gratitude the SECOND time? I mean if it was so wonderful early in your relationship when your spouse made a home-cooked meal, then wouldn’t it be MORE wonderful the second time, and the third, and the fourth? But it doesn’t work that way, does it? It’s logical; but it’s not psychological. The psychology of it is that it becomes LESS wonderful in your eyes. Isn’t it amazing that the blessings right in front of our eyes EVERY DAY are the ones we’re least likely to see. And the ones that surprise us every now and then monopolize our gratitude!
How to Build a Lasting Marriage
This is one of the great challenges of building a LASTING marriage. We crave appreciation. A successful relationship depends on it. People can’t live fulfilling lives without it. But the longer we’re married, the LESS likely it is to exist in our relationship. That is, unless you’re aware of this NATURAL tendency and are PROACTIVE about defeating it. On my last trip to visit my cousin in the US, I noticed one local supermarket in Chicago giving free balloons to children. This is NOT something they do occasionally nor are the balloons only given to NEW customers. They do it CONSISTENTLY. Is it easy for them? No. They have more than enough tasks on their “to do” list. But it’s their policy. They plan to make it happen. It takes a special effort, but demonstrating appreciation REGULARLY pays off.
Any business can give away freebies to attract new customers to their grand opening. But the businesses that thrive LONG TERM are the ones that learn to express gratitude to their customers CONSISTENTLY. And that’s NOT natural. It’ll never be easy. It takes time, effort,focus, and planning. It’s easy to be appreciative to occasional guests in your life who sweep in and do a random act of kindness. It’s harder with your spouse. But if your marriage is going to succeed long term, you have to express gratitude often and check-in with your spouse periodically to make sure they’re feeling appreciated. There’s no easy way to fill your marriage with appreciation. It will NEVER come naturally. You have to make it a conscious discipline.
Follow this hugely important funda above and you will never have to call me up to find out proof about your spouse’s infidelity! I seriously hope that day never comes when you begin to doubt your partner’s commitment to the marriage. Because marriages are meant to last till death do you apart!
Amit Sen, a commercial pilot by training, has over 15 years experience in the space of corporate investigations, handling Copyright & Trademark infringement cases, Pre – employment verification Industrial Espionage investigations, Asset & Net – Worth assessment assignments and vendor / supplier verification cases, among others. Co-founder of Alliance One – which is the best marriage investigation company in Mumbai, Amit has also successfully completed corporate investigation assignments in a wide range of sectors, including the machine tools industry, pharmaceutical industry, hospitality sector, specialized equipment (Oil & natural gas sector, aviation industry etc.), telecom industry & the IT & ITes sectors. These cases have all involved both offline and online investigations.