Aleteia

What to do when your spouse complains that you don’t appreciate what they do

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It’s a common complain between spouses, but you can put an end to these daily grudges.

It’s hard to overstate how frustrating it is when you make an effort for your spouse that goes totally unnoticed. “You didn’t notice that I arranged to get home 15 minutes early”; “You didn’t notice that I did the cleaning”; “You didn’t notice that I took care of the kids so you could have some peace.” The reply of the accused is often, “Of course, I noticed. I just didn’t mention it, that’s all.” And therein lies the problem—it’s not enough to notice; you also have to say so.

To love is to take notice

If we’ve noticed our partner has made an effort for us, but we don’t thank them, chances are we don’t quite how much that effort means to our spouse. He or she may wonder: “If my partner’s so blind to my attentions and gestures, do they really love me?” Such a lack of recognition can be felt and interpreted as a lack of love. When we truly love someone, shouldn’t we have eyes to see and to interpret the meaning of their little gestures?

Imagine this scenario: On his death, a man stands at heaven’s gates before St. Peter, who points out to him that he has often neglected to respond to his family’s needs. The man protests, “But believe me, dear St. Peter, I’ve always met all the reasonable demands of my loved ones. Unless, the only explanation can be, that I didn’t notice what they wanted …” To which St. Peter retorts, “That’s exactly what you’re accused of … You didn’t notice. And to love is to notice.”

Yes, truly, to love is to take notice. It’s maintaining the ability do this day after day, to stand in wonderment before your spouse. So let’s open the eyes of our heart. Let’s be supersensitive to our spouse’s little kindnesses. And without false modesty, let’s tell them that their gestures inspired by love are not unnoticed or unappreciated.

By the way, it’s also a good occasion to thank the Lord, who is certainly at the heart of these little but wonderful kindnesses!

Father Denis Sonet

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