From the fictional ones at Wisteria Lane to the “real ones” in Atlanta, we’ve all seen or at least heard of them. Desperate housewives, they’re everywhere and deeply ingrained in modern culture.

Not exactly something to look forward to if you are on your way to being, or already are, married.

But, did you know that there is a very effective remedy to what seems to be an epidemic of misery and desperation in marriages all around the world.

The Two Most Powerful Words

It may seem simple but saying the words “thank you.”

Most of us were taught, back when we were very young, to say those words after receiving something from someone.

The importance of being grateful or “giving thanks” to God or a Supreme Force or Being is constantly emphasized among the different religions or sources of faith.

During tough times, people may remind us of things we should constantly be thankful for: our health, our family, having food to eat and a roof over our head, etc.

But what about saying “thank you” to your spouse, simply for being there doing what every spouse is “supposed” to do?

“Thank you” is not just for special occasions

Excluding the times when you have received something, such as a gift or pleasant surprise, from your spouse, can you recall the last time you said “Thank You” to him or her?

Need some help with that? How about the time when your spouse picked up the mail, folded your clothes, took out the trash, changed a light bulb, walked the dog, read a bedtime story to the kids or cleaned up that coffee spill in the kitchen?

Does the thought of thanking your spouse for doing any of these “responsibilities” take you by surprise?

The power of personal acknowledgement

Sure, with marriage comes a whole array of obligations, responsibilities and even expectations. Perhaps this is why the famous 18th century ophthalmologist, Joseph Barth (1786-1818) stated that “marriage is our last, best chance to grow up.” But the fact that both, you and your spouse have acquired these “grown-up” responsibilities doesn’t give you license to take their execution for granted.

Think about it: Nowhere in the wedding vows is stated that either one of you commit to keeping a clean house, providing for the family, care for the dog, be a good listener, cook a favorite meal or take the kids to their dental appointments.

You may be thinking that it is “expected” from you or your spouse to do all these things and more, as they basically “come with the marriage package.”
So you and your spouse go through life just expecting to have these things done somehow, and never even bother to acknowledge each other for taking on such tasks and responsibilities. This is the perfect recipe to build resentment within the marriage; in other words, disaster.

Why wives (and husbands) become “desperate.”

We’ve all heard the term “desperate housewife” (and believe it or not, there are also many “desperate husbands”.)

What do these desperate wives and husbands have in common?

For starters, they all have something related to their marriage to complain about – And many times it has to do with the lack of acknowledgement and gratitude they receive from their spouse.

It is not uncommon to hear one of your married friends say things such as “I spend my entire day doing housework and taking care of the kids and (insert spouse’s name) won’t even thank me once for it!”

Or “I have to put up with all this stupid office B.S. so I don’t lose my job, just so (spouse’s name again) can drive a nice car and live in a specific residential zone.

In both cases, we can clearly see that it is obvious that neither of these people has ever been acknowledged by their spouse, so they begin to build resentment against them. Eventually this resentment can turn into contempt mixed with a feeling of desperation and resignation within the marriage. As a result, the spark that once existed in that relationship dies, and both spouses may begin to feel trapped in their marriage. Eventually, they may start looking for a way out of that situation, thinking that the relationship is irreparable.

The magic antidote for a “desperate” marriage: “Thank you!”

Every time you thank someone, you automatically acknowledge every bit of effort that it took that person to do something. And you can’t deny that being on the receiving end of that acknowledgement fills you up with a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Even when you know that you are expected to do something, it feels great when you get genuinely thanked for it. In most cases, it makes you want to do it again (or at the very least, not mind having to do it again!)

When you are thanked or acknowledged for doing certain things, it is very difficult to harbor any resentment against the person who thanks you for them. And no feelings of resentment mean no feelings of being “trapped” or “desperate” within your relationship with that person.

So what are you waiting for? Think of the last thing that your spouse did and thank him or her for it! Make it a habit to thank each other for the little everyday things you do, and make it genuine and truly heartfelt.

Believe me, just like there is no such thing as “being too happily married” there is never anything that sets a limit on the acknowledgement or times you say the words “thank you” to your spouse.

Tell us – what have you thanked your spouse for today?

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Image credit: TheAlieness GiselaGiardino²³

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