Grateful. How many of you know what it truly means to be grateful? Beyond the superficial ‘Thanks’ we award those who hand us a tissue or give us a plate of food at a restaurant. How many of you have really thought about what it means to feel gratitude toward another person? Specifically, your spouse or partner.
I should preface this ramble with the fact having just endured 342 days of single parenthood, I have a much different perspective on this than those who have not had to endure an unaccompanied tour/post (Foreign Service, military or otherwise). I should also say that my hubby is not just my spouse, but I also consider him to be a dear friend who is also not necessarily the case for all marriages/partnerships. And lastly, I should add that my dear hubby is probably the worst emailer on the planet and does not communicate particularly effectively on personal issues using email.
All that said, let’s think about gratitude. Raise of hands: who knows what being grateful means? I mean, besides feeling or showing an appreciation of kindness. I don’t consider gratitude to be the same thing as being beholden to someone; you aren’t indebted because of an act of kindness. To me, gratitude means being able to take a minute to really think about how an act has positively impacted you. To you, it just a plate of food now in front of you. To the server, that’s their job, yes, but it’s also helping another individual have nourishment and ensuring that all of the accoutrements necessary for a good meal are available and present. So, be grateful. Don’t just grunt at your server.
How about your spouse/partner? Do they share the work load? Do they listen to you when you’ve had a rough day? Do they do the grocery shopping, and take turns in cooking? Do they take a part in raising the kids? Partnerships are important. You don’t have to thank each other for every little thing you do; but acknowledging the effort each of you put in to make a happy, healthy home is important. I know I don’t say thank you to my hubby enough. He’s a great dad. Perhaps a bit louder and generates a LOT more laundry than I do, but he’s a great dad and a very caring husband. I’ve learned how much I appreciate all he does this year when I don’t have any of it here; I’ve also learned to appreciate the general partnership because being geographically single is hard.
Take the time to say thank you. If you just can’t say it in person, try to say it in a note. Do it every day. Not just a generic comment, either, but be specific. Thank your spouse/partner for how great they put together lunches or how nicely they clean up the bathroom after bathtime. Thank them for their animated story-telling efforts, or for how well they kept up with the bike while training your child to ride. Thank them for their amazing broccoli slaw that the kids ate up without a word.
The more appreciation you can show, the more appreciation you will feel. Noticing the small things will help you move more toward a positive frame of mind; this is where positive family interactions come from.