Tag Archive for appreciation

Why Thank Your Spouse for Doing Chores?

I’ve heard it a thousand times (well, maybe that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but I have heard it a lot!): “Why should I thank her for doing what she’s supposed to do?” Or, “I’m not going to thank him for doing what a man’s supposed to do!” Or, “Why should I thank him for taking out the garbage when I cook the meals, clean the house, and do the dishes!” The short answer is because it’s polite and it will encourage them to do more.  But, that answer is incomplete and short-sighted. Let me explain what I feel is a more compelling answer.

We all want to feel appreciated, especially by our family. Thanking our spouse for doing some routine, expected chores gives them the gift of feeling appreciated. Appreciation is a gift of love you give your spouse. But wait…that’s not all. There are even BETTER REASONS to appreciate your spouse!

A series of studies from the University of Massachusetts (click here to read the studies) explored the impact of appreciation in romantic relationships. They looked at two types of behaviors, each involving an expenditure of time, effort, and resources to meet the needs of a one’s partner or home. One type of behavior involved “partner favors,” behaviors engaged in directly for your spouse. The second type of behavior involved “family chores,” the mundane, tedious tasks not done directly for your spouse but still needing done. “Family chores” included activities like cleaning the bathroom, paying the bills, or taking out the garbage. In a series of studies and questionnaires, the researchers asked couples how often the engaged in specific “partner favors” and “family chores,” how appreciated they felt, and how satisfied they were in their marriage. The couples’ answers revealed some surprising results.

  1. When a person felt appreciated for doing the mundane, tedious “family chores,” the chore became more of a “want to do” activity rather than a “should do” activity. People crave appreciation so much that even mundane tasks become more desirable when we know our spouse will appreciate them. Chores become a positive investment in the relationship, not just another tedious job. As a result, the appreciated person is more likely to keep doing chores…and to do them happily!
  2. Appreciation for “family chores” led to greater relationship satisfaction. When “family chores” were appreciated, couples described their relationship as more satisfying and intimate.

Put these two points together and you find that appreciating our spouse sets a positive cycle in motion. The doer feels appreciated and the chore takes on new meaning. It becomes a positive investment in the relationship. Rather than another tedious task, it is an expression of love sown into the relationship. The doer then desires to do more chores, to sow more love into the relationship of appreciation. The appreciator delights in a helpful spouse. They enjoy a spouse who participates in maintaining the household and becomes even more appreciative as a result. When both spouses become doers and appreciators, you create a cyclone of appreciation pulling your marriage toward greater levels of mutual appreciation and joyous service.

So, why thank your spouse for doing chores? To create a cyclone of appreciation, an environment of joyous service and mutual gratitude! Sounds like a pretty sweet spot, doesn’t it? Get the cyclone of appreciation started today by simply voicing your appreciation for the chores your spouse has done.

A Lesson for Graduates from Blind Bartimeaus

My youngest daughter graduated from high school this year. She and several of her classmates have encountered many painful obstacles on their journey toward graduation. They have comforted one another through an unusually high number of struggles and deep losses. But, this year they received their diplomas and set their sights on higher Overcomehopes, greater dreams, and richer visions of conquest. As I watched them graduate, my mind wandered to the story of a man name Bartimeaus. Bartimeaus was blind. Like you, he faced many obstacles trying to get by each day. One day, he heard that a great Teacher, a Merciful Healer, was passing by amidst a crowd of people. Bartimeaus cried out to the Teacher for help. The Teacher didn’t respond, so Bartimeaus yelled louder. The people around the Teacher told Bartimeaus to give it up. Stop yelling. Just sit back and stay where you are, a blind man begging on the side of the road.  But blind Bartimeaus had a greater vision than those around him. He knew the Teacher was a Merciful Healer. Even though physically blind, Bartimeaus saw beyond the moment to greater possibilities. He had higher hopes. He brushed aside the naysayers and those who wanted to keep him down. He cried out above those who tried to silence him. He pursued is dream of gaining the Teacher’s attention. When everyone else told him to stop and give up, he persisted. He bet everything he had on the hope of being healed by the Merciful Healer. Then, it happened. The Teacher called for Bartimeaus. Bartimeaus threw aside his cloak and jumped up. He left everything he owned. He threw off every encumbrance to answer the Teacher’s call. He approached the Merciful Healer only to find one more hurdle. The Teacher presented one final obstacle. He asked Bartimeaus a question: “What do you want Me to do for you?” Without hesitation, Bartimeaus announced his deepest desire—to see. The Teacher granted him that desire and gave Bartimeaus his sight. His dogged determination had paid off. Having obtained the sight he had only dreamed of, Bartimeaus discovered yet another, even greater, reward. He saw the face of the Teacher who had given him his sight.

To my daughter and those who graduated with her, I know you have encountered several obstacles and struggles in your high school career. You will encounter many more as you continue your journey through life. Like Bartimeaus, don’t give up. You will encounter naysayers and people who want to keep you down. Call out for your dreams all the louder. People will try to deter you from reaching toward your dreams. They will try to convince you settle. They will tell you to sit back and stay where you are. Don’t do it; become yet more determined. They will try to silence you. Don’t let them. Persist more doggedly. When others try to dissuade you from Teacher’s dream in your life, pursue that vision even more vigorously. The Teacher will hear you. He will call for you. When He does, throw aside every encumbrance. Let nothing hold you back. He will likely ask you what you want (even though He already knows). Let your excitement overflow as you share your dream with Him. Proclaim the vision He has planted in your heart. Your steadfast pursuit, your tenacious persistence, and your resilient determination will pay off when you realize your deepest desire. And, you will gain an even greater reward when that happens. You will see the face of the One who has given you the strength to achieve the dream He planted in your heart. Keep your eyes on Him and never give up!

The #1 Action for Improving Your Marriage

If you want a stronger, healthier marriage take this simple action every day: express gratitude to your spouse! That’s right. Expressing gratitude is the most consistent predictor of marital quality according to research completed by the University of Georgia. Researchers African American Couple Laughing On The Floorinterviewed 468 married individuals about financial stress, communication style, and expressions of gratitude for this study. They discovered that the practice of saying “thank you” and expressing gratitude promoted a higher quality marriage. Such expressions of gratitude interrupted negative communication patterns. They decreased the “proneness to divorce.” They protected a woman’s marital commitment in the face of negative communication styles. In other words, expressing your appreciation for your spouse—showing gratitude and acknowledging the nice things they do, and saying “thank you”—carries great power in your relationship. So, start today. Improve the quality of your marriage by saying “thank you.” Protect your marriage by intentionally expressing gratitude for something your spouse does every day.

A Fact & A Challenge for Your Marriage

Writing thank you on a blackboard.FACT: Researchers at the University of Georgia recently published the results of a study involving 468 married individuals. The study looked at the impact of financial stress, the demand/withdrawal communication pattern, and the expression of gratitude on marriage. They found expression of gratitude toward one’s spouse was the “most consistent significant predictor of marital quality” among those involved in the study. The more gratitude spouses express toward  one another, the less they used the negative communication pattern in which one partner demands and the other withdraws, and the greater their commitment to their marriage. In other words, feeling and perceiving gratitude from one’s spouse increases commitment to marriage and each spouse’s willingness to communicate about the “difficult topics” in their relationship. There is power in the simple expression of gratitude. (Learn more about the power of gratitude by reading Intentional Gratitude and 4 Tools for a Happy Marriage.) That leads me to the “challenge.”

CHALLENGE: Make a commitment to express gratitude to your spouse on a daily basis. Doing so will increase positive communication, buffer your relationship against various relational stresses, and protect your marriage from divorce. Here are three ways to help you meet this challenge.

  1. At the end of each day reflect back on how many times you expressed gratitude to your spouse…and how many things your spouse did for which you did not express gratitude. Commit to increase your expression of gratitude tomorrow.
  2. Keep a daily gratitude journal by writing 3-5 things you could thank your spouse for doing that day. Share your list with your spouse at the end of the week.
  3. Set a reminder on your cell phone to prompt you to stop three times a day (morning, noon, evening) and think about things you appreciate about your spouse. Each time, write down 1-2 things you appreciate about your spouse. At the end of the day, share two of the things you have listed.

A fact and a challenge that can strengthen your marriage. FACT: There is great power in gratitude.  CHALLENGE: Show gratitude daily! Your marriage will thank you for it.

The Key to Love…or Disdain

“A man falls in love through his eyes, a woman through her ears.”–Woodrow Wyatt

If Woodrow Wyatt is right, men and women have different keys when it comes to love. A key and heartkey to a man’s love begins with his eyes. If this is true, you can use this key to increase intimacy with your husband. Dress nicely now and again rather than always slumping around in your “comfy clothes.” When you go on a date, pick out clothes that you know appeal to your husband. You likely did this while dating. Why not keep it up after you’re married? Make an effort to put on nice clothes, fix your hair, and smile admiringly at your husband on a regular basis. It will go a long way in unlocking his love.

A key to a woman’s love begins in her ears. Use this key to gain intimacy with your wife. Speak words of appreciation and adoration for your wife. Encourage her often. Verbalize your feelings of love on a regular basis. Let your words reveal your fondness and admiration for your wife. Speak words of love and affection, appreciation and adoration, fondness and admiration daily. This will unlock her love for you in amazing ways.

These keys have a flipside. They can create intimacy when used properly; but, on the flipside, they will create disdain if misused or ignored. Wives, if you make no attempt to look nice for your husband, he may begin to think you don’t care. He will feel unimportant because you “dress up for work, but never for him.” He will feel as though you rate him second to all those activities and places for which you dress up. He may even begin to feel disrespected. He may feel cheated and deceived because you “dressed up when we were dating but now you don’t care enough about me.” A man who feels disrespected will begin to drift to those places where he feels more respect. Don’t let this happen in your marriage. Use the key of his eyes to keep him close.

Men, if you neglect to speak words of affirmation and admiration to your wife, she will begin to doubt your love. She will feel unappreciated and unloved. She may even begin to feel worse about herself, inadequate and filled with self-doubt. If you call her names or call her character into question through the words you speak, she will begin to despise you. Her disdain for you will grow with every negative comment you make. Eventually, love will die. Don’t let this happen in your marriage. Speak words of love and tenderness. Use the key of her ears to keep her close.

Of course the eyes and ears are not the only keys to love. But, they do provide one key you can use to deepen the intimacy with your spouse and strengthen your marriage. The nice thing is…you hold the key!

Family Honor & Respect in a Card Trick

Did you ever see “The Colour Changing Card Trick” on YouTube?  It is a cool card trick…and so much more. In fact, the “so much more” makes the trick astounding and teaches us an important lesson about family. Take a short 2 minutes and 43 seconds to watch “The Colour Changing Card Trick” in the video below. You won’t be disappointed. Then read what this trick taught me about family.

People learn and grow; they mature and change. More to the point, your spouse, children, and parents learn and grow. They mature and change.  Taking the time to recognize and acknowledge how they learn, grow, and change honors them. Adjusting our response in accordance with their growth also honors them and communicates respect for them. Unfortunately, we often miss the real changes, the significant growth, because we focus on some small aspect of their life or behavior that has irritated us. We focus on the “cards” and miss the all the changing shirts, table cloths, and back drops. Let me give some examples.

  • We recall the time a family member was late in picking us up and tell that story for years, but never acknowledge how many times they were there for us when we needed them…or how they have grown more responsible over the years.
  • We focus on a family member’s angry reaction to some pet peeve and neglect to recognize how patient they have become in the last year or how patient they have always been in so many other areas.
  • We constantly talk about our children’s messy room while ignoring how well they clean their dishes, the car they drive, or the desk they study at.
  • We bring up the time a family member said something obviously wrong (“Is this chicken…or is this fish? I know its tuna, but it says ‘Chicken of the Sea.’) while neglecting to acknowledge how intelligent they are and how much more knowledgeable they have grown.

I’m not saying we need to let inappropriate behavior run amok in our families. Inappropriate behavior needs addressed. But, we show respect and honor when we recognize how our family members have changed and matured. Take a look at the “big picture,” the whole picture. Notice the changes your spouse and children have made. Admire their maturing character. Acknowledge new behaviors and attitudes they have developed in response to lessons learned. Notice the changing colors of their life as it grows ever more mature. It’s a great way to show honor and respect.

Are You a Straight “A” Family?

Do you want to have a family filled with celebration and joyful intimacy? Start by becoming a straight “A” family. I’m not talking about grades. I’m talking about attitude. A truly happy

high school graduates tossing up hats over blue sky.

and healthy family exhibits four “A’s” in their attitude: Acceptance, Admiration, Appreciation, and Accountability. Don’t jump to any conclusions about your standing in these four “A’s.”  Instead, take a moment to review the brief questions below to think about each of “A” and your family standing in relation to each one. You might find your family strong in each area. You might also find various areas where you would like to grow (I know I did).

Acceptance:

  • Do you accept each other’s different taste in music, food, clothing, TV shows, etc.?
  • Do you take the time to learn about your spouse’s/children’s/parents’ interests, even if they are different than your own?
  • Do you allow your five-year-old to leave home after dressing themselves in non-matching clothes or do you have to re-dress them? How about allowing your teen to get the haircut or hair color they desire?
  • How do you let your spouse/children know you love them when you are angry or disappointed with their behavior or decision?
  • Do you avoid comparisons?

Admiration:

  • Name three things you admire about each of your parents.
  • Name three things you admire about your spouse.
  • Name three things you admire about each of your siblings.
  • What attribute have you most recently admired in your spouse/children/parent?
  • When did you last tell your spouse/children one thing you admire about them—today, yesterday, last week, last month? If it was last week or longer, better do it again.

Appreciation:

  • How often do you say “thank you” when you ask your spouse or children to do something?
  • How do you mark the milestones and achievements of your spouse and children?
  • How do you acknowledge the strengths of your spouse/children?
  • Write down three different ways you can communicate appreciation to each family member?

Accountability:

  • How did you teach your children to do their currently assigned chores?
  • Do you practice the behaviors and values you want your family to emulate in areas of anger management, accepting responsibility for mistakes, apologizing, forgiving, politeness, etc.?
  • Name two consequences you have used in the last month with your children. How did these consequences specifically teach the values you want to pass on to your family?

I see some areas of personal need as I write these questions. Although I’m not too upset (after all, family is a place of constant growth), I better get to work in order to improve. That will set a good example of accountability for my family as well. I also see areas in which I believe I do fairly well. How about you?

10 Habits for a Happy Family

I remember singing this chorus as a kid:

“If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap).

 

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap).

 

If you’re happy and you know it then your face will surely show it.

 

If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands (clap, clap).”

African American Family Parents and ChildrenMy friends and I had a great time clapping, stomping, and spinning into happiness while singing this song. As I’ve grown older, though, it takes a little more to make me happy. Even more important, I want my whole family to experience happiness now, not just me. To my surprise, my clapping, stomping, and singing does not necessarily increase my family’s happiness (go figure). Fortunately, happiness is something we can nurture, something we can increase by establishing a variety of daily habits. Research has identified 10 habits that contribute to happiness. If we teach these habits to our children and practice them ourselves, we can nurture happiness in our family. Let me list the 10 happiness habits for you (and you can read more about them on Psyblog. Notice that the first letter of each habit spells out GREAT DREAM.

  • Giving: doing things for others.
  • Relating: connecting with other people.
  • Exercising: taking care of our bodies.
  • Appreciating: noticing the people and the world around us.
  • Trying out: learning new things.
  • Direction: having goals we can look forward to.
  • Resilience: finding ways to bounce back.
  • Emotions: taking a positive approach to life.
  • Acceptance: being comfortable with who we are.
  • Meaning: being a part of something bigger.

These habits help increase happiness for individuals…and for our families. Not surprisingly, people are better at some of these habits than others. A recent survey of 5,000 people (you can take the survey for yourself at Do Something Different) revealed that acceptance, although the habit most strongly linked to life satisfaction, is the habit practiced least often. Almost half of the 5,000 people surveyed rated themselves as 5 or less on a scale of 1-10 in the area of acceptance. In other words, a full 46% rated themselves below the halfway point in terms of self-acceptance. Acceptance is a happiness habit which every family can likely improve. How can you increase acceptance in your family? I’m glad you asked. (Well, technically I raised the question…but I hope you’re at least a tad bit curious.)

  1. Model acceptance of yourself. Accept yourself shortcomings and all. Be kind to yourself. Make sure your language and actions reveal that you see your mistakes as opportunities to learn. Recognize what you do well and be willing to humbly verbalize your strengths.
  2. Model acceptance of others in your family. Show kindness to your spouse and children. Let your language and your response to them reveal that you believe their mistakes are opportunities to learn as well. Trust them to do significant tasks in the home, even as they are learning how to do them well.
  3. Recognize their strengths. Verbally acknowledging their skills.
  4. Enjoy your spouse’s and children’s strengths and interests. Even if their interests do not initially “turn you on,” learn about them. Listen to them talk about their interest. Read up on their interests. Help create opportunities for them to learn and grow in their areas of strength. Support them in pursuing their interests.
  5. Spend time with your family, both times of quietness and times of activity. Times of activity allow you to have fun together, to accomplish goals together, and to work together. This builds acceptance. Times of peace and quiet allow us to grow comfortable with one another’s silence, to accept one another even when we are not pursuing the same goals.

I’m sure there are other ways to nurture acceptance in our families. Share with us ways in which you promote acceptance within your family? Also, stay tuned over the next several blogs as we continue to explore practical ways to promote the other keys of happiness in our families.

The Top 6 Reasons for Men to Help Around the House

A recent study conducted by Alyssa Croft, a PhD Candidate in the University of British Columbia, suggests that “girls grow up with broader career goals in households where domestic duties are shared more equitably by parents” (Read review of study here). In other words, girls who watch their father do dishes, laundry, and other household chores Man ironing a pair of jeansbelieve they can pursue a broader range of vocational options, not just “feminine oriented jobs.” The broader range of options includes vocations that range from nurse to doctor, teacher to accountant, librarian to scientist, secretary to lawyer. Girls who witnessed their father engage in household chores were also more likely to envision themselves as having future careers in leadership or management positions.

 

Interestingly, mothers and fathers had a different impact on their daughter’s future in this study of 326 children between the ages of seven and thirteen years. A mother’s belief about gender and work equality predicted the daughter’s attitude toward gender. But, a father’s actual involvement in household chores seemed to be the key to open the gate for daughters to pursue more career roles involving leadership, management, or professional positions. It seems actions speak louder than words in the case of fathers and careers!

 

I don’t know about you, but I’d like my daughters to experience the freedom to pursue any career they choose, whether it be a stay-at-home mom, nurse, doctor, teacher, or business owner. If my sharing household chores can help broaden their perceived career options, then I guess I can wash some dishes and help with the laundry. However, I believe there are other, even more, significant reasons for a husband and father to help with household chores. Let me share six.

  1. We already learned that it might help to broaden our daughter’s perceived career options. But, there…I said it again.
  2. A father who helps with household chores is modeling a humble attitude of service. I hear men speak of themselves as leaders in the home. Well, take that role of leadership seriously by leading in the art of service. Show your family that leaders serve.
  3. When a father helps with household chores, he shows the importance of working together. It takes a whole family to keep a household running smoothly. Dusting, cooking ironing, cleaning, laundry, yard work, setting and clearing the table…the list goes on…and it is too much for one person! When a husband models a willingness to join the team and actively participate in the day to day household duties, children are more likely to work for the “team” (AKA-family) as well.
  4. Helping with household chores is an expression of love and appreciations. When a husband washes dinner dishes, he is, in a very practical way, expressing love and appreciation for his wife cooking the dinner. Expressing love and appreciation will grow a more intimate marital relationship and close-knit family. So, show how much you love and appreciation your wife by cleaning the bathroom.
  5. As Kevin Leman said, “sex begins in the kitchen.” Women find men who do household chores somewhat sexy. They are drawn to men who can humbly serve in doing household chores. If you think I’m making this up, check out this short 1-min-51-sec video…unbelievable. Need I say more?
  6. The number one reason for/ husbands and fathers to help with household chores… because dishes get dirty, furniture gets dusty, and laundry needs folded. We like to get things done. If it needs done, “man up” and do it.

The Secret to a More Passionate Marriage

I recently read a blog on Greater Good (All You Need is Love, Oxytocin, and Gratitude) that revealed an interesting secret for building a stronger, more passionate marriage. I will give you the secret if you promise to try it out for several weeks. It works…even though it is not that hard! Here’s the secret. You’re going to love it! In order to have a more African American Couple Laughing On The Floorintimate, passionate marriage, express gratitude for your spouse. Wait a second. Don’t quit yet. When I say gratitude I do not mean a simple thank you. Gratitude is more than appreciating what your spouse does. Gratitude is appreciating who your spouse is…not just appreciating that they brought you home a gift or emptied the dishwasher but appreciating that they are thoughtful enough to know that such a simple act would mean something to you. When we express that kind of gratitude (thus the secret) to our spouse, our marriage will grow more passionate. Research shows that sharing this type of gratitude increases joy and enthusiasm for both partners as well as the overall quality of the relationship. Couples that express and receive this type of gratitude from one another are also more peaceful, confident, and amused. Both partners perceive the other as more understanding, validating, caring, and responsive. These “feel good results” arise because of the oxytocin released into each person’s system in response to this type of gratitude. Interestingly, sharing a personal positive event with your spouse does not produce all these great results. Instead, sharing a personal positive event simply increases joy and enthusiasm. It seems that focusing on the other person with an attitude of gratitude has a special effect…an effect that goes beyond merely telling my spouse about the good events of my life. So, go ahead and talk about the fun events you experienced while apart from your spouse for the day. Share the positive experiences you enjoyed as an individual. That will increase joy and enthusiasm in you and your relationship. But, if you want a really intimate and passionate marriage, get beyond your own experiences and start to express how much you appreciate your spouse’s actions and, even more important, the person behind those actions.

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