How to Thank Your Partner
Increasing expressions of appreciation in members of a couple can help them repair old hurts and to create new connections. But especially in long term relationships, a simple thank you can sometimes fall flat. This post describes a simple way of expressing appreciation and three ways to deepen the practice.
Appreciation for Behavior
- “Thank you for doing the dishes.”
- “I noticed that you paid the bills. I bet that took you awhile.”
- “Thanks for being on time.”
There’s nothing wrong with appreciations like those above. If you aren’t expressing this kind of appreciation for you partner, try starting with simple acknowledgements like those above.
There is a limitation to appreciations of this type. They don’t point beyond the behavior. You might say these same things to someone you had hired to the do the task. If you really want to foster intimacy in the relationship, you need to point beyond the behavior to your partner, to yourself, or to the relationship.
- “When you did the dishes, I felt such a relief. I was dreading them and it meant a lot to me that you took that on tonight. Thank you.”
- “I noticed that you paid the bills. It really removed a lot of my stress to see that you had because I’ve been worried about them. Now I can relax about that. Thanks.”
- “It meant so much to me that you got here on time. Now that we’re together I can really begin to enjoy your presence and let the rest of the day go. Thank you.”
Take note in the above examples of the feelings relief, dread, stress, worry, and enjoyment. Note also the needs that are stated or implied: cleanliness, financial security, meaning, and connection. By sharing the feelings that your partner’s work created or soothed inside of you lets them know that they can be and have been effective in the relationship. By sharing your internal experience, you not only share that their effort helped you to feel closer to them, you invite them to feel closer to you.
- “When you were doing the dishes, I could see how dedicated you are to me and to our family. Thank you.”
- “I bet that you are exhausted from paying the bills and figuring all of that out. I really appreciate the way you put out all that hard work today. Thank you.”
- “Thank for getting here on time. I hope it wasn’t exhausting or stressful for you to do so. I know that it can be challenging through all of the traffic. Thanks.”
In this type of appreciation, you are identifying qualities (dedication, hard worker), feelings (exhaustion, stress), or experiences (challenged) that your partner may have exhibited in the process of doing the things that you are identifying. This helps your partner know that you saw them, not just what they did; that you appreciate them as a partner, not just as someone to do things for you.
- “When you did the dishes, I was so grateful for your companionship in my life.”
- “I know you are tired from paying the bills but I want you to know that it meant so much to me to not be alone in the challenges of money management.”
- “Woo hoo! Go Team ‘Us’! Your on-time arrival is helping our team win the day.”
This kind of appreciation refocuses attention from the behaviors, to the two of you and your continuing dedication to one another. Explicitly express appreciation for your partner’s dedication to your relationship, thank them for supporting the relationship which is so important to both of you, or point out that that together you can accomplish things that you can’t do alone.
While most people like to have their efforts and work acknowledged most of us like it even more to hear about the good aspects of our character, the joy we brought our partner with our work, or how our work is supporting something bigger than us like our relationship. So the next time you see your partner take your appreciation to the next level.