Singaporebrides | Relationships

March 2024

Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation in Your Marriage

When you’ve been married a while, the rose-coloured glasses can slip off, leaving you both constantly discontented and annoyed with each other. Cultivating a culture of appreciation in your marriage can counter those negative feelings, and strengthen your relationship.

When a marriage is going through a rough patch–demanding new job and late hours from one partner, or a family member being ill, for example, it’s all too easy for a couple to slide into constant criticism, blaming each other for their problems, and keeping running lists of each other’s mistakes. At times like this, it’s difficult to feel loving and appreciative of each other.

The Impact of Constant Criticism

Understanding the detrimental effects of persistent criticism is crucial for couples. Constant blame and criticism will have negative effects on your marriage:

1. Erodes Self-Esteem

Continuous criticism can significantly diminish an individual’s self-esteem. When one partner regularly criticises the other, it can send a message that they are inadequate or constantly falling short, leading to feelings of worthlessness and insecurity.

2. Breeds Resentment

Criticism, especially when it feels unjust or relentless, can sow seeds of resentment. This resentment can grow over time, creating a barrier that hinders open communication and emotional intimacy, which are essential components of a healthy relationship.

3. Triggers Defensive Reactions

Criticism often leads to defensiveness, a natural response to feeling attacked. This defensiveness can escalate conflicts, making it difficult for couples to resolve issues constructively.

Wendy and Victor’s Scenic Destination Pre-Wedding Shoot in Munich, Germany by Acapella Photography

4. Undermines Trust

Trust is foundational in any relationship. Constant criticism can erode trust, as it makes partners feel unsafe to be vulnerable or share their thoughts and feelings, fearing judgment or further criticism.

5. Focuses on the Negative

When criticism outweighs appreciation, it shifts the focus of the relationship to what’s wrong rather than what’s right. This negative lens can cloud a couple’s perception of their relationship, overshadowing the positive aspects and contributions each partner makes.

Marriage researchers at The Gottman Institute have found that the antidote to criticism and contempt for each other is building a culture of appreciation within the marriage. By fostering a culture of appreciation within your marriage, you unlock the door to deeper connection, resilience, and mutual respect. When you create a positive perspective of your partner and your marriage, when you tend to see the brighter side of things instead of assuming the worst, you’ll be better able to navigate tough times such as illness, job loss, or a financial crisis.

How Do You Create a Culture of Appreciation?

Building a marriage where you appreciate each other instead of only point out each other’s faults, takes intention. It can require a radical shift in your mindset and perspective. It might not come naturally, but if you make the effort, you can see your marriage start to thrive again, as both partners offer sincere thanks and appreciation, do small acts of kindness, and build a culture of respect. It helps you maintain a positive perspective, focusing on strengths and contributions rather than shortcomings. This positive reinforcement encourages more of the behaviours and qualities you value in each other, creating a virtuous cycle of goodwill and affection.

Ways to Cultivate a Culture of Appreciation

Creating a culture of appreciation in your marriage requires intentional actions and habits. Here are several strategies you can implement to enrich your relationship with gratitude:

1. Daily Expressions of Gratitude

Make it a habit to express gratitude for the small and big things. Whether it’s a thoughtful gesture, a kind word, or support through a challenging time, acknowledging these acts strengthens the fabric of your relationship. Simple phrases like “Thank you for the coffee” or “I appreciated how you took out the trash last night” can make a significant impact, because they mean that you see and appreciate the things your partner is doing for you.

Cherylene and Mark’s Technicolour Disco-Dino Wedding at The Alkaff Mansion by Rolling Pie Pictures

2. Recognising Effort and Growth

Understand what is important to your partner. Celebrate the steps your partner takes towards personal goals or improvements they make, no matter how small. This recognition validates their efforts and encourages continued growth.

3. Scheduled Appreciation Time

Set aside regular times, such as during a weekly date night or a quiet moment before bed, to share with each other what you’ve appreciated about one another during the week. This practice creates a dedicated space for positive reflection and deepens your connection.

4. Public Acknowledgments

Acknowledging your partner’s qualities or contributions in front of others not only boosts their self-esteem but also reinforces your bond as a couple. It’s a way of saying, “I’m proud to be with you.”

5. Listening Actively and Acknowledge Feelings

Active listening shows that you value what your partner has to say. By acknowledging and validating their feelings and perspectives, you’re appreciating their experience and showing empathy.

Sheila and Ivan’s Dreamy Bali Wedding at Alila Villas Uluwatu by Annora Pics

6. Celebrating Each Other’s Successes

Whether it’s a promotion at work, a personal milestone, or overcoming a challenge, celebrating each other’s successes fosters a supportive and appreciative relationship environment.

7. Appreciating their Personality

Tell your partner specifically what you see and appreciate about their individual personality or actions. For example, telling them you love how thoughtfully they take care of their parents, or how you admired the way they navigated a work challenge.

8. Customising Your Appreciation

Understand your partner’s love language and tailor your expressions of appreciation accordingly. Whether it’s words of affirmation, acts of service, receiving gifts, quality time, or physical touch, personalised appreciation speaks volumes.

Creating a culture of appreciation in your marriage is a journey of mindful practices and heartfelt gestures. It’s about making appreciation a daily ritual, a language of love that you speak fluently together. This culture not only enriches your relationship but also sets a foundation of respect, admiration, and mutual support. It’s a profound acknowledgment of your partner’s value, efforts, and presence in your life. It’s about seeing and celebrating them for who they are and what they bring to your shared life. This act of recognition nurtures emotional intimacy, bolsters self-esteem, and fosters a sense of security and belonging. As you cultivate this culture, you’ll find your marriage blossoming into a more fulfilling and resilient partnership, ready to weather the storms and celebrate the sunshine together.

Credits: Feature image from Grace and David’s Charmingly Candid Pre-Wedding Shoot in the City by Bora from Always Sunday

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Cultivating a Culture of Appreciation in Your Marriage