It’s always about the little things. How many times have we come home from a long day at work or spent all day cleaning the house and taking the kids to and from school and playdates, just for our partners to barely bat an eye? A major breaking point in relationships often arises when we feel like our partner is taking us for granted and not appreciating our value. We want to be valued for the work and time we put into our responsibilities and relationships, yet so many of us aren’t getting that and we don’t know why. Since this month’s theme on The Stress Less Show is all about relationships - one of the top stressors in America for women - I brought on Certified Relationship and Confidence Coach, Alex Streisand, to talk all about appreciation in relationships.
Alex knows first hand that cultivating appreciation in a relationship is not easy to do, but it was her own experience of a lack of appreciation that helped make her so passionate about helping others transform their lives and relationships.
“I used to manage a restaurant prior to becoming a coach. And I remember doing those 80 90 hour work weeks and coming home exhausted and, you know, having a boyfriend at the time who wasn't working nearly as much as I was and I felt like every day was just like I was coming home exhausted. I was hungry, I was anxious from everything that I've dealt with with the customers and yet there was such a lack of appreciation towards how hard I was working.”
Alex, like so many of us women, spent a while in this relationship feeling unappreciated for all of her hard work and time. When we are so used to things being a certain way, we often don’t see how painful or unacceptable our situation truly is. We found a way to get “comfortable” with our frustration and disappointment and so the idea that we can have a better life or relationship rarely even crosses our minds. It took working with her own coach, getting more into her personal development and stepping back to look at the bigger picture for Alex to realize that she did not have to just accept how unvalued she felt in her relationship.
“Sometimes we get wrapped up in that life and we don't really understand where the lack of appreciation is coming from and why. Or maybe we believe that we deserve it... Absolutely not. That is not what we deserve we deserve so much more, especially when we're such hard workers and we put in all this time and effort to live a life that we want.”
After working through this roadblock herself and with her clients, Alex came on to The Stress Less Show this week to share her tips for how we can start opening up our relationship to more appreciation so that both us and our partners feel loved.
Tip #1: Appreciate, Acknowledge, Accept
Alex’s first tip is all about beginning to open up showing and receiving appreciation in our relationships. According to her, a key to relationships is all about weaving together what Alex refers to as the Triple-A categories - appreciation, acknowledgment and acceptance of our partner’s actions. This can mean stopping to acknowledge and show gratitude to our partners for making dinner or washing the dishes.
“It's so easy for us to sometimes take things for granted, including our partners, where we feel like, ‘Okay well, so much is going on. They know we appreciate them but we don't really need to express it.’... No, we need that sense of appreciation. It feels good to be complimented and loved and shown that [they] are thankful for X Y and Z.”
No matter how big or small, sharing that appreciation for our partner’s time and effort will go a long way to improve our relationships. A simple ‘thank you’ becomes a loving gesture we can share with our partner to cultivate more intimacy and love every day.
Tip #2: Be Present With Your Partner
In alignment with the triple-A category of Acknowledgement, Alex’s next tip is about really showing up in our conversations with our partner. It can be so easy to come home from work every day on autopilot. We are so tired and preoccupied with everything going on at work or on our to-do lists that when we finally sit down and have time with our partner, we are miles away in our heads.
We may say we are having a conversation with our partner but we’re really looking at our email or planning tomorrow’s dinner in our heads. Or maybe we are exasperated because our partner is too busy on their computer to talk to us. Whatever it is, Alex stresses the importance of being able to step away from the distractions and spend some real quality time together.
“You're both putting your phones away. You're making full eye contact. You're really being engaged and showing your partner and having them show you that you're actually listening and engaged and taking in what they're saying. So you can actually see where you're both coming from and have a mutual understanding”
Tip #3: Compliment Your Partner
Alex’s final tip is a simple yet powerful one - compliments! Everyone loves a really good thoughtful compliment - whether it’s your best friend hyping up your outfit or a coworker praising you for your hard work yesterday. Compliments make us feel good and when we bring them into our relationship, Alex emphasizes that they can really connect us to our partner and make us feel loved and truly valued.
“Make a space where there's just endless love and connection with complimenting and acknowledging... Try that out. I'm telling you it will work wonders.”
By opening up to our partners about the things we love about them, it not only helps them feel appreciated but it also helps them do the same for us. It may be tempting to roll our eyes at cliches, but when it comes to cultivating appreciation in our relationships, it really pays to treat our partners how we want to be treated.
This episode of The Stress Less Show was sponsored by The Stress Less Space, an intentional space for women to relax and recharge away from the chaos of everyday life. Learn more about The Stress Less Space by clicking this link!