Even in modern long-term partnerships, there are certain levels of sacrifice expected from each of us. Often, our personal sacrifices provide us with our own sense of gratitude. It feels good to help.
However, that doesn’t mean we don’t appreciate (and even need) recognition from our significant others — at least part of the time. In fact, recent studies show that “sacrificing was associated with more relationship satisfaction, but only if their partner detected the sacrifice and was grateful for it.”
Recognized Sacrifices Go a Long Way… in Both Directions
The research says partners only tend to recognize the same action as a sacrifice for the relationship about half the time. Even more interesting, we actually tend to recognize actions in our partners as sacrifices that our partners don’t actually consider a sacrifice at all!
Unfortunately, feeling under- or unappreciated leads to feeling frustrated, disconnected, and less willing to see the sacrifices our partner is also making. You can see where it goes from here… Before long, you could need serious relationship help.
This is why it is so important to recognize, then verbalize, the sacrifices you personally see your partner making for the sake of your relationship.
When you see something great happening, call your partner on it: “I see what you’re doing. I appreciate what you do for us. Thank you.”
The person recognizing the effort will feel happier. The person receiving the praise will feel more willing to continue sacrificing… and will often begin recognizing sacrifice in their partner. You will both feel more connected to one another. And a cycle of strengthening can begin.
When You Don’t See Your Partner’s Sacrifices
These studies also show that much of the time, we don’t see our partner’s sacrifice at all. This can be a root cause of much of both partners’ unhappiness.
Remember, regardless of our commitment to one another, we are all individuals on a personal journey. Imago philosophy says entering into a long-term relationship means we have committed to helping one another through it.
When you expect your partner to do everything they do as a normal sacrifice for your relationship, your expectations are too high. And you’re negating their efforts. This can leave your praise feeling hollow.
Understand your partner doesn’t truly owe you anything. They are part of this relationship as a choice. This may offer you some perspective and make it easier to see just what they do for you.
Relationship Help: Struggling to Recognize Your Partner’s Sacrifice?
Ultimately, relationships are hard, and every single one is unique. While no one expects constant praise every day (if you do, that’s another matter entirely), we do need some.
If you are having trouble seeing what your partner is doing beyond what is expected, reach out to marriage counselors Norene Gonsiewsk and Tim Higdon for relationship help.
They have a number of easy-to-incorporate techniques for you to begin shifting your perspective and to help you see exactly what you are each bringing to the table.