Do you feel unappreciated in your relationship?
In the last post we talked about how to recognize if you are taking your partner for granted. So if you missed that, make sure you go back and catch it!
In this two part series, you’re going to learn what to do if you are feeling unappreciated by your partner.
Appreciation in a relationship is like gas in your car. Without it, not much happens.
If you’ve been feeling unappreciated in your relationship, I am sorry. I know what that’s like and it is a sucky way to feel.
If someone is really not appreciating you, you telling them that might not make that much of a difference. How can they appreciate what you are saying, if they don’t appreciate you?!
One problem for lots of men with some version of “you don’t appreciate me enough” is that they don't know what that means and aren’t really sure what to do with it. Just the other day I was talking about this concept with a male friend of mine and he said “oh! My girlfriend says that all the time. It is so annoying”. Now, my friend is a good guy, and I know that he really does want his girlfriend to feel appreciated, but he is really just at a loss for how to make her feel that way.
Helpful Reminder: When men don’t know how to produce a result, they feel really unsafe. So to cope, sometimes men will trivialize a problem that they don’t know how to solve. It doesn't mean they don't care!
(Want more tips about male / female communication? Join this free online class)
Now back to the matter at hand. If you’ve been in a relationship where you feel taken for granted for a while, it’s time for some tough love: Putting up with feeling unappreciated or like you're being taken for granted is playing the role of victim
It indicates you have been too afraid to set boundaries. You have the power to change this situation. I've got 4 strategies for you if you're currently feeing unappreciated in your relationship.
The truth is that no one can ever take away your power. You either give it away or you don’t.
1) Get down to the facts
You need to figure out exactly what it is that has you feeling unappreciated.
- Is it that he doesn’t say thank you after you do his laundry?
- Is it that he forgets to do things that you’ve asked him to do?
- Is it that he isn’t taking you on dates?
- Is it that he doesn’t make enough time for you?
Watch out! You want to be aware of the tendency to exaggerate or generalize in this area.
If you find yourself say or thinking things like “I do so much for you and I ask for this one tiny thing and you never do it”. This is a sign that you’re not dealing with the facts. You are in exaggeration / generalization mode.
Words like every time, never, always, are clues that you are telling yourself a story and straying from the facts. And you want to get down to just the facts. What action or lack of action has you feeling unappreciated?
Here are some easy fill in the blanks:
“When I do _________ and he _______ I feel unappreciated.”
“When he___________________ I feel unappreciated.”
Just remember, It's time to get down to the actual facts of what is going on. What is actually happening or not happening.
A feeling of not being appreciated or taken for granted can live as a very general feeling, like an overall sense. Unfortunately, it can’t be solved at that broad level. You need to actually get down to the distinct actions in order to start to solve it.
2) Figure out what would have you feel appreciated
A common romantic ideal is that we want our partner to just know what it is we need or desire and to give that to us without us ever needing to identify it ourselves or worse yet, actually ask for it.
As nice as that would be, unfortunately, this is Hollywood fantasy way of thinking about how relationships become great. You let yourself off the hook and your happiness becomes someone else’s job. That's not a great approach.
When you take responsibility for your own happiness. You will have a lot more power.
Now, figuring out what would have you feel appreciated might take some intellectual effort on your part because it requires you to really look:
- What would make me feel loved?
- What is missing?
- What do I want that I am not getting?
Again, make sure that you distinguish this at the level of facts and observable action. A good example of this is: I would really feel appreciated if he would help me study after work.
It is your job to know what makes you feel loved and to teach and train your partner how to love you in that way.
It is your job to know what makes you feel loved and to teach and train your partner how to love you in that way. #lovesmarter
3) Find out what he does appreciate
Maybe you yourself don't feel unappreciated, but you feel that some of your actions are unappreciated
It is possible that the things you are doing that you feel go unappreciated are things that are simply not important to your man. If you are doing a lot of things that he never asked you to do, or that you know aren't important to him, don't go expecting to be appreciated by him, you could be waiting a while.
Here's a rather grimy way I learned this myself. My husband is very tidy and he keeps our house very tidy. I am rather messy. But I don’t like dirt or grime on things, and the grime doesn’t seem to bother my husband; I don’t even think he sees it.
So the last time we were cleaning the house together I was scrubbing the burners on the stove. I’m sitting there scrubbing, waiting for him to appreciate me for helping him clean and he’s looking at me like I am totally wasting my time. Because he just doesn’t appreciate clean stove burners!
And you know what? I love him anyway 😉
If there is something in particular that your man never acknowledges or says thank you for, you could ask him if he appreciates it.
“Hey, do you like that I always make the bed in the morning? Is that something you would like me to keep doing?”
If he says yes, then tell him what you need to feel good about doing that for him. “Great! I am happy to keep doing it, and I’d feel really good about doing it if you said thank you when I do"
If it doesn’t matter to him, then either choose to do it for yourself because you like it, or stop doing it! Find out what he does appreciate.
Ask him “What are the things that I do for you that you appreciate the most?”
Then, if it pleases you, do more of that thing!
4) Give more appreciation.
This might sound counterintuitive, but if you want something, one of the best ways to get it is to give it!
The law of reciprocity is very strong (there's a lot of good research on this) and humans want to return favors.
If you’re wanting more appreciation a great strategy is to actually give out more appreciation.
Especially if you have been complaining about being taken for granted or not being appreciated.
It’s highly likely that your partner also feels like they are being taken for granted or not appreciated. Because to even be able to make the comment "you don’t appreciate me", it implies that you the commentator are not appreciating what you’re partner has already done or said or been that wasn’t enough for you to feel appreciated.
Remember that ex, I mentioned earlier?
Well, I have to admit, that I wasn’t appreciating him either. We had been living together for the summer before he went to do some international travel. I had found a new job in a remote town a few hours north. When he ended up with some unexpected time before his trip, at my pleading, he took a float plane and came up to see me.
We hadn’t spent more than an hour together before I asked him why he didn’t bring flowers.
He turned to me and for the first time stood up for himself “I just flew here to see you - why didn’t YOU bring me flowers?”.
Gulp. He was right.
I had been so blinded by what I wasn’t getting, I was totally missing what he was giving me.
So be generous with your praise and practice giving appreciation out!
That’s it for part 1. Join me for part 2 where we go into 4 more strategies of what to do if you are not feeling appreciated by your partner.
If you're ready to master your communication with men, join my free webinar here.