build a mighty foundation on gratitude

by Jennifer Stevenson

People are always complimenting my husband and me—particularly me—on our relationship.  It feels a little weird.  Are they saying it like, Wow, you were born with great hair, weren’t you?  Or is it more like, For such a bitch you have a great husband!

I always say the same thing:  “Thank you.  It’s because we’re polite to each other.”

And nine-tenths of that politeness is … saying “thank you.”

We have the usual division of labor around the house.  I do all the shopping and laundry, weekly errands, and most of the “big” cooking.  He does dishes, floors, and windows, maintains the cars, cleans the cat box, and does building-and-fixing things.  I do most of the interior painting.  Together we feed & pill the cats, dig ditches, trim trees, rake leaves, and so forth.

The secret?  We thank each other for doing these things.  Every time.  For anything.  After the two hour walk we took to Lake Michigan and back today, I thanked him for coming with me on the walk, and he thanked me for suggesting it.  If I buy groceries, he thanks me for buying the food he likes.  If he carries the laundry baskets to the basement, I thank him.  Every time.

I’ve heard of “empty thanks” but I’m not sure they exist.  My conviction is that the more we thank each other for every little part of our lives together, the more aware we are of how nice we have it.

Every “thank you” is a brick laid in the edifice of our life together.  If that life seems powerfully strong and unrockable, it’s because we’ve taken the trouble, and the pleasure, of enjoying every opportunity to be grateful that we have each other.

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Jennifer Stevenson’s latest novel is A Hinky Taste Of You, a roller derby vampire romance set in the Hinky Chicago of The Brass Bed.  Look for it at Book View Cafe in November 2011.

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build a mighty foundation on gratitude — 4 Comments

  1. We say “thank you” and “I love you” so often to each other–and to the kids–that strangers comment on it. It seems like baseline communication to me. And it means that even when we fight, we come back to that baseline. Thank you for the post, Jen.

  2. This thanking each other is part of never taking each other for granted, and expressing how much we appreciate the other and his / her efforts.

    It seems to me that I see far more very happy marriages than I did growing up. But I probably didn’t notice much as a kid outside of my kid concerns.

    Love, C.

  3. As one of the people who has complimented you on your relationship, I want to make clear that what I saw was mutual respect and affection. So the thanking each other makes sense.

    As I deal with my elderly father and talk regularly with my sister, I find us all saying “I love you” a lot more often than we used to. That’s an important one, too.