What You Appreciate Appreciates

The qualities that you love about your partner are also in you.

Posted Jul 19, 2019

StockSnap/Pixabay
Source: StockSnap/Pixabay

“There is more hunger for love and appreciation in this world than for bread.”  ~ Mother Teresa

 Linda: The word “appreciate” has two meanings, both of which apply to happy couples.

The first definition has to do with the assignment of value to someone or something or to make precious, as in, “I appreciate your willingness to be honest with me.” Or “I appreciate how much time you put into completing this project."

The second definition has to do with an increase in value such as a home, a vintage wine, or a friendship.

Happy couples describe what they appreciate about each other on a regular basis. Examples are: “You are such a great mother.” “You can make me laugh whenever I start taking myself too seriously.” “You are a world-class cook.” “You are even more beautiful today than the day that we met.” “You’ve got more integrity than anyone I’ve ever known,” and countless others.

When we are around happy couples, we will frequently hear comments they make to each other, and declarations of their admiration for one another. These expressions of gratitude are specific in nature and not abstract or general statements such as, “I appreciate her” or “he’s a good person.” Because they are so specific, we can clearly see that they are paying close attention to their partner.

If you speak with them, they will proudly tell you that they make a conscious choice to focus on what they really like about their partner. They report that over time this practice has become a habit that expresses itself effortlessly and continuously. They will happily tell you how their expressions of appreciation are contagious, with both partners reciprocating on an ongoing basis. One man I spoke to refers to his relationship as being a “mutual admiration society.”

It should be noted that an important aspect of these expressions of appreciation have an absence of any expectation of reciprocity. Their acknowledgments are freely given without coercion or manipulation. They are natural expressions arising spontaneously without any agenda or strings attached.

These ongoing expressions of appreciation are self-fulfilling in that the more each partner focuses on what they admire about the other, the more pronounced those qualities become.

The notion that whatever you put your attention on expands applies to appreciations as well as resentments. A couple who focus on what they don’t like about each other will find themselves increasingly preoccupied with their judgments. Their dissatisfaction brings their level of well-being in their relationship and their life in general way down. They frequently don’t see that where they focus their attention is a choice.

Couples who focus on what they appreciate become increasingly aware of the admirable aspects of each other.

Not only that, but with continued attention given to them, those qualities actually seem to grow and deepen in each person. We all tend to live up to the perceptions that others have of us for better or worse.

In the case of the happiest couples, having such positive attention is unquestionably for the better.