If you've been in a relationship for longer than 45 minutes it won't take you long to realize that it's less about you and more about the other person. Contrary to what chic flicks and media would have you believe, successful relationships are built on more than two really attractive people, passionate sex, and the occasional sweet gesture. Relationships are amazing but they also take work. For both people involved, it takes more than just looking good and being nice to keep your love boat afloat. In fact, I'm willing to bet that there's one question you should ask your partner every morning that could make all the difference in your relationship.
Now, don't get me wrong here. I know that both partners have an equal weight to bear in a relationship, so I'm not saying that all responsibility for a perfect marriage or dating relationship falls on you, and you alone. But you do have an important part to play.
Statistics show that when someone is feeling unappreciated, they'll put in less effort. And naturally, when one of you puts in less effort, your marriage suffers. It's no wonder that William James, a philosopher in the late 1800s, called appreciation, not love or any other emotion, the greatest craving of human nature.
Simply asking your partner "how can I make you feel more appreciated today?" might be just what your relationship needs.
Think about it. Appreciation goes much deeper than just saying "thank you for taking out the trash" or even "I love you"— at it's deepest level, it says "I see you. I notice what you're doing for me and I value it". It's love and respect all rolled up into one.
In my almost three years of marriage, I've learned that the root of most of our problems isn't lack of communication, money issues, or stress with work or kids, but it usually boils down to a lack of feeling appreciated. If I take the time to tell my husband that I notice the effort he puts into our family and relationship, even in simple ways, he is much more likely to continue putting in effort, and less likely to get burnt out.
The same is true for me. After a long day of chasing toddlers, changing diapers, cleaning up messes and trying to sneak in a few hours of work when I can, it means the world to me when my husband tells me he appreciates me, or asks how he can help me feel more appreciated.
If you're at a crossroads in your relationship where neither of you feel valued, try asking what you can do to make your partner feel more appreciated. Chances are, it's just the change you need to make.