Have you noticed that when you first start dating someone you are showered with compliments, and yet as time passes so too does the praise?  I suspect in most relationships an inverse correlation between time and appreciation – as one goes up the other goes down.  But this does not need to be the case.

Do you recall the early days with your spouse or significant other?  Gushing with all the wonderful things about them, both physical and internal – they are so smart, funny, attentive, attractive.  A friend recently began dating again and shared how good it made her feel to receive such accolades.  And rightly so, we all like to be given compliments.  When others value and appreciate us, it makes us believe in and value ourselves too.

However, once we have sealed the deal, and wooed our partner into a long-term commitment, so often the appreciations dry up.  We stop trying as hard or sadly even noticing those things that first drew us to our mate.  In the marriage book, The Five Love Languages, by Dr. Gary Chapman, he speaks of this initial phase as “the honeymoon phase”, and once this has passed, which it invariably does, we have to try harder to do or say the nice things we did for our partner when we first began dating.

If, as human beings, we yearn to be praised, complimented, and appreciated, then we are drawn to those who share it with us.  I want to be the one giving appreciation to my spouse.  I want to be the one to tell him all the things I love about him – his humor, zeal, dedication, warmth.  If we receive the things we desire within our marriage, then we won’t need to seek it elsewhere.

A heart representing appreciation

A heart representing appreciation

I was reflecting today also on the law of diminishing returns.  It is an economic theory that states at a certain point in time you get less additional reward from something the more effort you put in (the continuing application of effort toward a particular goal will decline in effectiveness after a certain level of result has been achieved).  Sounds like pretty technical stuff.  As an Economics major I would hear about it all the time in relation to business, efficiency, and success.  While the theory stands true for many things, with regard to our relationships my theories differ.

I believe in our relationships the more effort you put in, the more rewarded you will be – indefinitely.  Don’t stop the appreciations after the honeymoon phase is over, if the words are genuine and said with sincerity you can never be told them too much – keep those compliments coming!  You might be pleasantly surprised by what you hear in return.