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.