My husband and I were attending a couples’ meeting a while back when the group’s discussion took a turn for the worse. What seemed like a simple topic at first – the division of chores – soon become more complicated as one couple delivered their story. The husband shared how he had taken out the garbage one night and hoped he would hear a “thank you” from his wife when he returned to the house. Unfortunately, the only thing he received was silence. Why? The wife explained her actions, or lack thereof, with this reason: “Why should he be thanked for something he was supposed to do?”
I could see the hurt in that husband’s face as soon as the question left his wife’s lips. Meanwhile, she remained firm in her stance, unwilling to speak the two words that could bridge the distance between them.
If I am honest, I’ll admit I have been in both of their shoes over the course of my marriage. There have been moments when I wished my husband would notice that I had vacuumed the house or stocked the cupboard with his favorite snacks. What I wouldn’t have given to receive some sort of validation of my effort in those situations! Yet, at the same time, there have also been times when I was stingy with my appreciation towards my husband. I have expected him to do things, such as fix the toilet or change the oil for the car, and conveniently forgotten to acknowledge his actions.
In thinking about the scenario above, I believe the wife posed a legitimate question that begs to be answered. Do we need to thank our spouses for things we expect them to do? I would say yes, absolutely, without a doubt, yes! Here are three reasons why the two words “thank you” are worth saying in your marriage.
- Extend courtesy. Make an effort to express gratitude towards your husband or wife out of common courtesy. Remember when you first met your spouse, how you were on your best behavior? Both of you were likely more conscious of chewing with your mouth closed, saying please and arriving on time for dates. If your manners have fallen by the wayside since your dating days, start practicing them again! Saying thank you to your spouse is one way of affirming the fact that they are worth your kindness and politeness.
- Extend grace. Marriage was never meant to be 50/50. If you attempt to keep track of which spouse is pulling (or not pulling) their weight in the relationship, you will never be satisfied. Instead, choose to be a vessel of God’s grace for your spouse. Let go of your expectations and be careful not to take your husband or wife for granted. Be willing to go the extra mile for your spouse, especially in the area of expressing appreciation for the big and small acts they do.
- Extend encouragement. Positive reinforcement is the best kind of motivator. If your spouse does something that eases your load or makes your day brighter, let him or her know. Be specific and encouraging with your feedback, so your spouse knows exactly what you appreciate them doing. Chances are high that your husband or wife will be more likely to do that task again as a result of your grateful response.
In light of the Thanksgiving holiday that just passed, let us take the initiative to promote a spirit of thankfulness in our marriages. Extend courtesy, grace and encouragement to your husband or wife, starting today. May we all grow to develop a heart of gratitude as we say the two words that are worth saying any time of the day, any season of the year: thank you.
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