Q: My husband came in the house and sat down at the supper table talking at length about the yard work he had just finished. He seemed quite proud and was looking for me to compliment him on all that he did. I am glad he takes care of the outside chores; however, he didnít notice that I had cleaned up the house, shopped for groceries and made dinner. How should I have responded to him?
A:Feeling unappreciated in a relationship is sadly, not so uncommon. If you are not getting the recognition you need, you may feel hesitant to give him the acknowledgement he seeks, especially when he tells you of the many good things he has done without esteeming you for your hard work. There is an unfortunate inclination to take one another for granted.
In the book His Needs, Her Needs, Willard Harley writes that one of the five top basic needs of men is admiration. A man needs to hear from his wife that the things he does are appreciated. Therefore, listen to him, then express your gratitude for the yard work that he did and praise his efforts in a genuine tone. Be sure you donít add any disclaimers that negate the positive message, such as, ďI really like how neatly you cut the grass, but could you finish it off by trimming around the sidewalks?Ē Leave it at the compliment. If you want the sidewalks done, tell him as he begins yard work the next time.
Itís okay to share with him, in a polite manner, the tasks youíve been busily accomplishing about the house as well. Let him know it makes you feel good to receive credit for your efforts. Thank him for any kind words he gives you. Be aware of the erroneous mindset that it is not necessary to lovingly comment on the completion of Ďwhat he should be doing.í Itís wonderfully uplifting to hear your loved one speak about the ways in which you care for your home and relationship.
Disclaimer: Responses to questions are not to be construed as receiving, and are not a substitute for, psychological services, or treatment.
Questions to Sophie is a new question and answer column addressing reflections on work, family, friendship and personal issues. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to The Hamburg Item office. Please use an appropriate anonymous name based on the topic of your letter and submit by the editorial deadline.
The column is by Suzanne Kline, a practicing psychologist born and raised in the Hamburg Area.