The One Habit Loving Couples Practice To Avoid Taking Each Other For Granted

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Being in a relationship takes a lot of energy and commitment. Sometimes you may feel that your partner doesn’t really understand or appreciate how much you really do to keep things going. It seems like they should notice more, pitch in more, and be more grateful for what you do.

Should you have to “ask” for them to notice all you do? Shouldn’t it be obvious to them if they are paying attention? “Why does it all seem to fall on me?” you might be asking yourself. But there is a remedy.

There's one habit strong couples practice to avoid taking one another for granted.

Over decades of working with couples, we have found this common complaint to be among the most frustrating and deflating obstacles for couples. Fortunately, there is a way to turn this feeling of being taken for granted into an occasion for sharing and generosity.



This is achieved through the process of acknowledgment and expressing appreciation. There is a way to have your partner acknowledge you more, and it really works.

Acknowledgment is the practice of noticing and appreciating something positive that one of you has said or done. It fosters intimacy during the high points of your life and strengthens your relationship during the low points. It improves communication and keeps your relationship alive.

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If you want more acknowledgment, it is helpful to appreciate frequently the things your partner does that you like and that you might normally take for granted. This is the kind of appreciation that close friends share with each other. Why not treat your partner at least as nicely as you treat your friends?

Here's are 3 ways to inspire your partner's acknowledgment.

A powerful acknowledgment is different than just a “thank you.” It requires being vulnerable and specific. There are three components of a deep and moving acknowledgment:

1. Be specific about the action taken by your partner.

To be truly effective, an acknowledgment must be fully experienced by both the speaker and the listener.

It is important to communicate your appreciation specifically and meaningfully. If your partner brings you breakfast in bed when you are sick, your acknowledgment will mean more if you say, “I really appreciate you bringing me breakfast” than just saying, “Thank you” or, “You are such a good person.”

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If you are the giver of the action, let your partner know what you have done and why. You may want to get in the habit of requesting an acknowledgment from time to time for something you did that went unrecognized by your partner. The appreciation is no less valuable if you ask for it. This is very difficult but extremely powerful.

You don’t have to wonder why they didn’t notice something you did if you tell them about it first. Not to brag, but rather to share your commitment to work for the relationship. It is not a competition, just a way to share the gifts you give each other daily.

Also, make sure you begin your acknowledgment directly with “I appreciate...” or “I acknowledge you for...” rather than “I want to...” or “I would like to..." Don’t just want to do it — do it.

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2. Express the quality you see demonstrated.

Often, your partner may devalue themselves and their contribution. Being specific about the quality you see helps to build confidence in your partner and, therefore, strengthens your relationship.

For example, the husband of a couple in marital therapy said he was never told by his parents that they were proud of him. He often put himself down and felt guilty for not doing more.

His wife acknowledged him for supporting her in several ways and sticking it out with a difficult job. This helped both of them feel more secure.

3. Let your partner know the impact the acknowledgment has on you and the difference it makes for you.

The husband above was able to feel supported by her and trust his value in the relationship, his job, and his life in general out of feeling acknowledged.

As much as you want to be acknowledged, you may have a hard time accepting praise, no matter how clearly it is given. You may have embarrassment or pent-up resentment over not having been acknowledged in the past.



It is up to you as the receiver of praise to let it sink in and let your partner know you truly got the acknowledgment. Be willing to take the appreciation as coaching and a growth opportunity.

As the giver of the acknowledgment, be mindful of the timing of your acknowledgment and your partner’s mood at the time. Timing is everything! Make sure they are in a place to hear you and are not distracted already by something else they have to do.

But no matter when you do it, it’s never too late to acknowledge someone.

A great way to not feel taken for granted is to get into the habit of acknowledgment with your partner.

All habits take some time and practice to develop. Just like exercising, you have to commit to doing it regularly to make it a regular thing. It may take time to get the hang of it, but you will.

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You may need to start with a more structured intention and plan to get the habit in place. And there's one exercise you can try together.

Have both of you make a list of things you appreciate about each other and your relationship. Then begin and end each day for at least a week by sharing appreciation and acknowledging the things each of you has accomplished or contributed that day to your partner or the relationship.

You'll be glad you did.

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Drs. Peter Sheras and Phyllis Koch-Sheras are clinical psychologists who have enjoyed studying and working with couples for more than three decades and have been happily married to each other for just as long.