One of the first questions I ask couples when they come for counseling is what they appreciate about each other. If they can’t think of anything at the time (which sometimes happens), I ask them to think back about when they first met, what attracted them to each other, what they appreciated then. I get a sense sometimes that they think this is a waste of time and that their time would be better spent getting right to the pressing issues they have to resolve. But usually they bear with me.
It’s interesting how often a husband will say something he appreciates about his wife (or vice versa) and the other one will be very surprised, saying something like, “I didn’t know you even noticed that” or “I’m really glad to know that’s important to you. I didn’t know.” Other times their eyes will fill with tears (both husbands and wives) and they will say simply “Why don’t you ever tell me?” followed by “I thought you knew” and then a shake of the head, “No, I didn’t.”
It is tempting to think that when we are busy with “very important” things to do and problems to resolve, that we don’t have time or can’t afford to take time to express appreciation. However, when you think about it, there are few things that are a better use of our precious time than expressing appreciation. For one thing, expressing appreciation helps us to focus on what’s good in our lives, rather than dwelling on the negatives. As we share that important information with others, it helps them to know that their efforts make a difference, that they are valued. This is especially true when the appreciation is expressed in specific ways.
We all need to feel that we have worth, that we are valued; and that worth and value is best expressed in relation to another, especially one that we have chosen to share our lives with.