Gratitude Grows More of What You Want
by Jan Denise

Your partner doesn’t always give you what you want. I bet there are even moments when he (or she) seems incapable of it, right? And if you dwell on those moments, you’ll feel like he’s never going to satisfy you.

There are other moments, though, when he sees deep inside you and understands, or surprises you with the perfect words or gift. There are moments when you actually see him—sense his vulnerability and the effort he’s putting forth—and love him, without demanding more or different to meet your needs. Let those moments be etched in your heart.

Dwelling on what’s positive (in any relationship) can mean the difference between miserable and grateful. It can also mean nurturing what you want instead of what you don’t.

He wants to please you, but when you feel like he always screws up, he senses that and gets discouraged or angry. Oh, he might try harder for a while; but eventually, it’ll seem like a lost cause. He’ll either feel as though he’s a loser, or find somebody who appreciates him.

If you want to keep him around, offer him some hope of satisfaction in your relationship by acknowledging what’s working. Say thank you for what he does do to enhance your life. Nurture what you want to grow with gratitude. If you don’t want to keep him around, nurture what you want to grow, anyway, and make an exit.

Miserable is a lousy option.

So, how exactly do you express your gratitude? You start by feeling it. Really look at your partner and find something you deeply respect and admire about him; and once you find it, don’t discount it or how he got it. Recognize what he brings to your life that you might not have without him and simply allow yourself to feel thankful.

You might have to get past your ego. If you find yourself thinking, “Well I could have married …” or “If I hadn’t been raising his kids …” that’s defensiveness; and it shows itself when your ego feels threatened. Let your partner be your partner, your ally, your advocate. You don’t have to compete with him. The better he is; the better you are together as a team.

You can’t feel grateful while you’re trying to minimize his contribution to your life in order to maximize your contribution to his.

Feeling grateful? Now you can begin to express your gratitude. You can tell him that you appreciate his intellect and how hard he worked at school or that you admire his insight with your son. Maybe you’ll even open up and tell him that there was a time when you were afraid that nobody could ever get truly close to you and still love you.

Don’t stop with words, though. Do something—not to get him to do something, but for what he already does that you’re grateful for. Take the time to wash his car or make his favorite dessert or call him, when you don’t need anything, only to say, “I’m grateful for you.” Find a restaurant that you know he’ll love, plan a getaway or his idea of the perfect evening.

And don’t be surprised when he starts to smile more, talk more, open up more, and feel more. When he thinks you’re watching to catch his mistakes, he withdraws. When he feels like pleasing you is hopeless, he stops trying.

But there’s nothing like gratitude to inspire hope, which motivates us to take action in order to create the life we want. He wants to please you. He wants the satisfaction of doing something well. He wants to be appreciated. He doesn’t want to feel like a loser. He doesn’t want to be in a miserable relationship.

Don’t express your gratitude in order to reap the rewards to come, though. Do it because it’s right, it’s fair, it’s honest, and it’s part of loving yourself and him well.

Give him hope by being grateful for what he does give you that you want. And if you have trouble thinking of things that you appreciate about him, you haven’t made it past your ego yet. Think of things you appreciate about yourself. Until you’ve seen your own goodness—and it’s there—you don’t really want to see somebody else’s. You’d rather find fault with them and downplay what they have to offer.

So, what about (SET ITAL) you (END ITAL) are you thankful for? Your integrity, your capacity for caring, your insight, your empathy, your mind, your sexuality?

Make a list of qualities you’re grateful for in yourself and in your partner. You each have at least a little of anything you could want … and gratitude makes it grow.


Gratefulness …

Acknowledges and nurtures what is good

Breeds acceptance

Breaks down walls

Sows peace

Reconciles differences

Restores hope and faith

Inspires action

Builds relationships

Author's Bio: 

Jan Denise is a self-esteem and relationships consultant, the author of Innately Good: Dispelling the Myth That You’re Not (Health Communications) and Naked Relationships: Sharing Your Authentic Self to Find the Partner of Your Dreams (Hampton Roads) and the columnist who penned the nationally syndicated “Inside Relationships” for ten years. Denise conducts workshops, speaks professionally, serves on the faculty of Omega Institute, and consults with individuals and couples nationwide. She is silly and deeply in love with life and her husband Dr. Sam Ferguson. They live in McIntosh, Florida, where their home in the woods—Gleneden—is also open to others as a sanctuary and retreat center.