With so many demands on our time these days, even people in loving relationships often find it difficult to make the time or effort to show their mates how much they appreciate them. In many households, the roles we play and the things we do to fulfil those roles are expected and taken for granted. This is a disheartening fact of life when we realise how important appreciation is in a relationship. So important in fact, according to M. Gary Neuman, author of Why Men Cheat, feeling unappreciated was one of the top reasons cited as to why men cheat.
Although how we give and receive appreciation will vary from person to person, when considered in terms of gender, women tend to prefer expressions of appreciation that speak to their emotional and nurturing nature. Because talking and sharing details of their lives are what give women encouragement and make them feel loved, higher value is placed on a man telling them they are appreciated than giving them things.
Some ways to show a woman she is appreciated are:
• Tell her often how much she means to you and why you appreciate her. Be specific about the reasons you appreciate her, such as “I appreciate the way you take care of our family” or “I love it when you laugh at my jokes.”
• Regularly touch her in a non-sexual way. The importance of non-sexual physical touch is often overlooked as a way to connect with your partner, but touching is one of the easiest ways to relieve stress, boost your mood, and create a feeling of trust between partners.
• Prepare or take her out for a romantic dinner. Take her to her favourite restaurant, or one that will bring back memories of a pleasant time the two of you had together. While at dinner, avoid conversations about bills, the kids, or any problems in your relationship.
• Pitch in and help with her chores. If she usually cooks or cleans the dishes after a meal; give her a night off where you perform those tasks instead. And if you don’t feel like you know your way around the kitchen, order take- out! Just be sure to follow through with the cleanup.
• Occasionally listen when she needs to talk WITHOUT GIVING ADVICE or fixing the problem. Sometimes she just wants to vent; to get something off her chest. She’s not interested in finding a solution, and may already know what she needs to do to get back on track. What she wants at the moment is someone to hear what she has to say because she is feeling hurt and possibly ignored.
• Treat her to a mani-pedi, hair salon or spa appointment. Anything that makes a woman feel good about the way she looks is a winner! Looking and feeling good boosts her self-confidence, which in turn makes her happier and more loving.
• Draw her a relaxing bubble bath. Few things relieve a woman’s stress like a nice warm, bubble bath! If you can find time when you won’t be interrupted, turn it into a romantic bath, complete with candles, soft music, scented oils or bath salts, and you!
• Have sex the way she wants it. Find out what excites her in the bedroom and then do it! If you, or she, are too self-conscious to actually talk about her likes or dislikes in bed, pay attention to her reactions to what you are currently doing and take your cues from there. If she is not wowed by what’s happening, look online or in magazines for ideas and try something new.
Conversely, men are conditioned to find value in strength, competence and action. For them, talking won’t get the job done as well as doing something will. So telling your man how much you appreciate him is not as effective as showing him how much you appreciate him.
Below are examples of ways to show your man you appreciate him:
• Greet him with a smile and warm hug when he comes home. Smiling is contagious! The mere act of smiling releases dopamine, endorphins and serotonin which can lift your mood and influence the mood of those around you. Deep hugs elevate oxytocin levels, which in turn lower heart rate and cortisol levels, and lessen feelings of loneliness, isolation and anger.
• Prepare his favourite meal. We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach; and whether it’s true or not, everyone enjoys a great meal!
• Spend 15 – 30 minutes per day alone with him, without interruption from family members, your phone, etc. During this time alone, do something HE wants to do and DON’T TALK unless he initiates the conversation – Your man may never tell you, but simply having your positive energy in close proximity reduces his stress and makes him feel good about himself. Making time to be alone with him also lets him know that you consider him a priority in your life.
• Give him a back or foot massage at the end of the day. After a long day, a massage will go a long way to relieving your man’s tension and making him feel connected to you.
• Buy a nice card and hand write a love note for him. Spritz it with your favorite perfume and leave it under his pillow or in his brief case. Better yet, go old school and send it to him through the mail.
• Buy tickets and accompany him to his favourite sporting event. This will double his pleasure by giving him two of his favourite things to enjoy at once. Be sure not to do this often, though, or he may feel that you are usurping his role as a provider.
• Ask for his advice on a matter you are dealing with, then do what he advised. Be careful. If you ask for his advice but resolve the matter in a different way, your man will feel disrespected.
• Initiate sex sometimes. Your man wants to know that you want to have sex with him and that it is not something you do out of a sense of duty or obligation. When he knows that you are enthusiastically engaged in the experience, it will be more fun and fulfilling for both of you.
We all want to experience the benefits a fulfilling relationship offers. By expressing appreciation for your mate and modelling behaviours you want them to emulate, you strengthen the connection between the two of you and create an atmosphere of mutual respect, acceptance and love.
Cheers to connecting on a deeper level!
Ketima Whitehall is a dynamic speaker, author and relationship coach. Through her writings, coaching
programs and devotional groups, she helps women find and use their voice which leads them to
achieving greater peace, harmony and fulfillment from their meaningful relationships. You can find her
on Facebook at KetimaWhitehallfans and Twitter @KetimaW.