The Importance Of Compliments In Your Relationship
According to renowned relationship researcher John Gottman, compliments outnumber criticisms by more than five to one in good marriages. In the Love Recon Book, 40 Days to a Thriving Relationship, couples are encouraged to express admiration or appreciation as part of the Daily Dyad Method for Relationships. Admiration is complimenting your spouse on a character quality like perseverance or compassion. Appreciation is expressing gratitude for something your spouse has done that has blessed or benefitted you.
Are you aware that behavior that gets rewarded gets repeated? We inherently want to please our spouse. Letting us know what they appreciate or admire will motivate us to repeat that behavior or cultivate that character quality. So, if you compliment your spouse, they will do what you like more often! Conversely, if you don’t enhance and strengthen your relationship through compliments, you are prone to take each other for granted.
How to Give Compliments
Here are some examples of how to compliment each other. Notice that after each compliment, you tell your spouse how it made/makes you feel.
- I appreciate that you took out the trash. It made me feel that we are a team regarding household chores.
- I love that you worked out with me. I enjoy it so much more with you as my workout partner.
- I like how you look in that dress! I feel fortunate to be your spouse.
Notice that these don’t contain “you” statements. You don’t want to sound like you think that you are superior or judgmental. For this reason, you wouldn’t want to say, “You did a good job taking out the trash.” That statement is one that a parent might make to a child. It is also usually best, to begin with, “I” like in the examples above.
Complimenting each other will create a positive and loving culture of appreciation. Isn’t that what your spouse needs from you: to feel loved, appreciated, understood, accepted, important, and connected to you? Here are some tips to help you develop the habit of giving compliments.
- Don’t save loving and appreciative words for special occasions.
- Focus on the positive characteristics of your spouse and your relationship.
- Look for ways to show your partner that you love and appreciate them.
- Express love and appreciation to your spouse today daily.
- Say it aloud as soon as you admire or appreciate your spouse.
- Let your body language be open and your voice warm. Smile. Make eye contact.
- Be specific. “I admire how you handled that situation at work. You showed patience and depth of character. I’m proud of you!”
HOW TO RECEIVE COMPLIMENTS
When you are complimented, receive the compliment without interrupting, objecting, or minimizing what your spouse says. If you deny their praise, it is similar to refusing a gift. It may be uncomfortable for you at first, but it will become easier.
What are some reasons that someone might have difficulty receiving compliments?
- People with low self-esteem may not be able to receive the compliment because they don’t trust that it is true. In addition, their perception of themselves and their place in the world may cause them to deflect any positive or affirming words about themselves.
- Some people grew up in a family or a culture where receiving compliments was considered prideful. As a result, they are pre-conditioned to minimize or reject compliments rather than to receive and enjoy them.
- Those who were raised with constant criticism have difficulty receiving compliments as well. Self-disclosure was too risky, and, as a result, they found it difficult to make “I” statements since “I” statements require vulnerability.
So, how do you receive a compliment?
- Smile and say, “Thank you!”
- If it doesn’t feel natural, fake it until you make it. You can act your way into a feeling. It will eventually be second nature for you.
If your spouse has stopped paying you compliments, or if neither of you has done so in the history of your relationship, don’t be discouraged. You can be the one who begins this life-giving habit. Start by complimenting your spouse each day and experience a new dimension and depth to your relationship!
If you want to discuss how we can help you and your relationship, please get in touch with me at [email protected] or call 866-218-1716. You may also visit our website, www.LoveRecon.org, for testimonials and information.