Gratitude Is Sunshine to Our Relationships

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It’s really easy to complain.

I mean, REALLY easy.

What if today we paused, took a step back, and looked at what our guy or girl is doing RIGHT?

What if we started appreciating the good and saying “thank you” more than “why don’t you do this more?”

When people feel like what they’re doing isn’t good enough, no matter how hard they try, they tend to shrink back or close off or even go away. They dim. And they likely become even worse at what you hoped they’d be and do even less than what you hoped they’d do.

I’ve had this happen in my own life, and I began to dread my visits with this person because each time I visited, I was served with a plate of “why aren’t you doing more?” though my heart was sincerely doing the best I knew how to be there, to help, to love. I began to feel defeated, and the visits became more of an obligation, more of a dread than a joy. I had to pop antacids and steel my shoulders each time for the inevitable criticism that was to come.

I am trying to get better at appreciating in my own relationships and giving people the grace I myself have received.

Sometimes we really are trying our best, and sometimes we’re just going through a hard time or preoccupied with something so we’re not at our usual best.

There is this philosophy, this biblical principle of sowing what we reap.

Do we want to reap positive things in our relationships? Then why don’t we sow those same things? Why don’t we model them for our partner, instead of just pointing out how they lack them? Why not live out of the abundance that Jesus’s love and grace gives us, and allow our partner to grow stronger out of that abundance of love and grace instead of just pointing out all the ways they are stagnant or short or lacking?

I think there’s a book called The Love Dare that talks about this very thing, changing the dynamic of complaining to appreciation and how this transforms relationships. The Bethkes have similar titles with their 31 Creative Ways to Love & Encourage Her and 31 Creative Ways to Love & Encourage Him books.

During one of the first dinners with my man, he opened up and told me that one of the things he most hoped for in a relationship was a woman who appreciated him. He loved that I did.

And though I am not perfect, I hope he knows I appreciate all the things he does to show me he cares for me, things like sending me good morning messages and opening my car door and cooking for me and praying for me at each meal and gently listening to my fears and reassuring me and being proud to introduce me to the important people in his life, stuff like that.

That’s good stuff.

We all have room to learn and grow; and yes, sometimes we do need to step back from a relationship and reflect on whether it really is a good, healthy partnership and whether our core needs are getting met. And yes, we should keep communication open and healthy, and there is a time for big conversations and sometimes even a parting.

But oftentimes, we just need to step back to gain perspective and see the ways we ourselves are wilting the plant of our relationship by the constant barrage of “you’re not good enough” messages we are raining down.

Just something worthy of reflection.

A wife told me recently that each day she writes down one thing she appreciates about her man.

What an awesome idea!

It’s also a good idea to pray for our partners; it’s amazing how God can work on our partner’s heart through our prayers. We often don’t even have to say a word. And when the gift comes, it’s even sweeter because our partner’s action is coming not out of duty to our nagging but out of a genuine heart. (Linda, shout out to you for modeling this wisdom.)

Gratitude and appreciation are like sunshine to our relationships. As we come into the Thanksgiving holiday, let’s take a moment to step back and be thankful for all the good we have in our lives and relationships.

Have a wonderful week!

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