Do you feel unappreciated in your relationship? Invisible to your partner?
This week’s habit for your happily ever after is to use the word “Thank you” to promote interaction with your partner. Your relationship will deepen when you use “Thank you” to interact rather than transact.
When you use “Thank you,” to interact with your partner, your relationship deepens because:
- Your partner feels uniquely appreciated
- You let your partner know that their behavior lights you up
But if you’re just trying to check the box with your generic “Thanks,” your relationship will suffer.
“Thank you” makes your partner feel seen
We all want to matter in our relationships, right? When you use the word “Thank you” it’s like saying you matter, my life is better because of you. So, use thank you to make your partner feel seen.
When your partner feels seen, they soften. They feel safe being vulnerable with you. Your relationship will deepen.
This is easy to do. Simply pair the word “thank you” with a specific detail.
- Thanks for making the bed every day. That makes me cheerful.
- Wow! I mentioned I wanted a new bike tire pumper upper and, presto! You got one. Thanks!
- Thanks for that kiss. You have the softest lips.
Warning: if you employ the thanks + specific detail formula your relationship is about to get a lot more intimate.
Some people freak out when intimacy is on the horizon. They get suspicious: what do you want from me? They are sure your kind thank you’s have a nefarious intent.
You’re gonna feel sappy. And corny. And vulnerable! Eek! But keep seeing your partner with the word thank you and your relationship’s gonna get sexier. All that softness? Yep. You’re gonna get those soft lips pressed to yours.
List of details to prompt your “Thank you”
Are you having trouble noticing specifics? Here’s a list. Your partner is making your life better in one of the following ways. Pick one and thank your partner:
- Household: How does your partner make your household a nicer place to live? Emptying the trash? Hanging a new photograph? Picking up your shoes?
- Companionship: You would be lonely without your partner. When does your partner keep you company? A movie? Making a meal? A hike?
- Financial: How does your partner support you financially? Leaving to go to work? (It feels vulnerable to say, “Thanks for going to work,” but it is transformational to your relationship.) Staying home to care for children? (It might feel weird to thank your spouse for caring for their own child, but it allows you to pursue a career. “Wow. It’s a big job to take care of these kids. Thank you.”
- Romance: It’s not an accident your partner is attractive to you. Thank them for their self-care because you benefit. Does your partner smell good? Rock a pair of jeans? Offer the best kisses?
Use “Thank you” when your partner includes you
Your connection with your partner grows when you’re included in their life. So use “Thank you” to reinforce those moments. Relationships—especially your primary relationship—are foundational for a happy life and they deepen when you include people.
Thank your partner when they include you in the details of life. Here’s three examples:
- Thanks for telling me about your day. It helps me feel connected to you when you include me in the challenges you face on a daily basis.
- Thanks for including me with your family. I know how important family is to you, and when you include me, I feel important to you.
- Thanks for telling me about what makes you proud. When I get to celebrate with you, I feel included in who you are becoming.
Ways to blow it with thank you
Instead of checking the box—and becoming the thank you robot—make “Thank you” an interaction.
When you become a thank you robot, you’re not appreciating your partner. You’re cashing in with “Thank you,” as if you’re simply aiming for a quota a of thank you’s. Don’t treat your relationship transactionally.
Transactions Interactions foster intimacy.
Here’s three temptations to become transactional with thank you:
- Self-absorbed: Your partner just made dinner. You’re hungry so you grab a fork, say “Thanks,” then bury your head in your phone.
- In a hurry: Your car won’t start. Your partner pauses what they’re doing to answer your text, sees you’re in trouble and drives to where you are, hooking up cables and gives your car a jump. Because of this delay, now you’re really late. “Thanks,” you say over your shoulder as you scurry away.
- Vulnerable: Your partner is leaving for work. Work that pays the bills at your house. “Thanks,” you say as your partner walks out the door. You don’t know how to say more because it feels so vulnerable.
When you don’t practice genuine interactive thank you’s, your partner feels invisible. But a transactional “Thanks” is worse because now your partner doesn’t just feel invisible, they feel erased, because you treated them like a tally mark rather than a human being.
Use the thank-you-formula
If you’re still stumped for specific ways to appreciate your partner, take a tip from Jimmy Fallon’s highly specific thank you notes. The two inches saved? Anyone else laughing at that, yet packs a travel toothbrush?
Say “Thank you” for _____ (mention a specific detail).
This formula will hone your focus. A specific thank you heightens your awareness about why you love your partner and value your relationship.