Today's Christian Marriage
3/1/10 at 10:53 AM 1 Comments

Are you taken for granted?

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Are you looking for a marriage retreat because
you or your spouse feel UNAPPRECIATED?

Maybe I can help.

Let me begin to deal with APPRECIATION in
marriage by explaining a basic human dynamic.

What gets your attention? Think about it. Do
you notice the beat of your heart, the comfort
of a hot shower, or the milk in the refrigerator?
My guess is that these things (and a million other
things that are commonplace in your life) do NOT
get your attention. And if they don't get your
attention, then they don't get your appreciation.

When was the last time you said to yourself,
"Thank God my heart is beating."

After your last hot shower, did you jot a note of
thanks to your local power company? I didn't.

Did you thank the breadwinner in your family last
time you poured milk in your cereal? Not likely,

Why aren't we appreciative for the things that
are so essential in our life? Without them we
would be miserable. But as long as we have them,
we don't even notice.

Imagine this: It's 1945. You've been in a
concentration camp in Auschwitz for 6 years.
During that time, you never had a hot shower, a
meal that didn't end with you feeling hungry, or
a week when your life didn't hang in the balance.

Then one day the Russians and the Americans come
marching in and you're liberated.

Can you imagine your first hot shower? What would
you be thinking? What would you say to the person
who served you your first home cooked meal? Do
you think they'd feel appreciated? Would you find
ways to express your thanks? I don't think there's
any doubt that you'd feel enormous GRATITUDE
and that your hosts would feel deeply appreciated.

What stirs gratitude within us? It's when we're
the recipient of UNUSUAL kindness. When I say
"unusual," I don't mean extraordinary; I mean
not-usual, uncommon, or infrequent. But when
events become the norm our gratitude slumbers.

Human nature is such that there is an INVERSE
relationship between frequency and appreciation.
The more you get it (whatever "it" is), the more
you expect it, and the less likely you are to
appreciate it. And it makes no difference how
crucial "it" is. The beat of your heart is a
perfect example. There is nothing more crucial in
your life. But there's also nothing more
frequent. And probably nothing you take more for

This explains why it's so common for spouses to
take each other for granted. As the frequency with
which we do things for each other increases
(as the years go by), the experience (and the
expression) of gratitude decreases. 
It gets to the point where people peripheral to
the marriage feel more valued than husbands and
wives feel toward each other.

Husbands and wives do more for each other than
anyone else in their lives, but THAT'S THE
PROBLEM! A man's wife, for example, has rubbed
his neck, kept a stock of his favorite cigars,
and planned their anniversary celebration every
year for 23 years. But he feels and expresses
more gratitude when his new secretary brings him
a gift from her trip to Mexico.

A woman's husband has cut the lawn, paid the
bills, and taken her away on her birthday every
year for 23 years. But she felt and expressed
more gratitude when Uncle Billy fixed the kitchen

There's an irony to this dynamic. We're so
appreciative when someone does something for us
ONCE, right? So whatever it was that warranted
our gratitude once, shouldn't it warrant more
gratitude the SECOND time? I mean if it was so
wonderful early in your relationship when your
spouse made a home-cooked meal, then wouldn't it
be MORE wonderful the second time, and the third,
and the fourth? But it doesn't work that way,
does it? It's logical; but it's not
psychological. The psychology of it is that it
becomes LESS wonderful in your eyes.

Isn't it amazing that the blessings right in
front of our eyes EVERY DAY are the ones we're
least likely to see. And the ones that surprise
us every now and then monopolize our gratitude.

This is one of the great challenges of building a
LASTING marriage. We crave appreciation. A
successful relationship depends on it. People
can't live fulfilling lives without it. But the
longer we're married, the LESS likely it is to
exist in our relationship. That is, unless you're
aware of this NATURAL tendency and are PROACTIVE
about defeating it.

One of the local supermarkets in Baltimore gives
free balloons to our children. This is NOT
something they do occasionally nor are the
balloons only given to NEW customers. They do it
CONSISTENTLY. Is it easy for them? No. They have
more than enough tasks on their "to do" list. But
it's their policy. They plan to make it happen.
It takes a special effort, but demonstrating
appreciation REGULARLY pays off.

Any business can give away freebies to attract
new customers to their grand opening. But the
businesses that thrive LONG TERM are the ones
that learn to express gratitude to their
customers CONSISTENTLY. And that's NOT natural.
It'll never be easy. It takes time, effort,
focus, and planning.

It's easy to be appreciative to occasional guests
in your life who sweep in and do a random act of
kindness. It's harder with your spouse. But if
your marriage is going to succeed long term, you
have to express gratitude often and check-in with
your spouse periodically to make sure they're
feeling appreciated.

There's no easy way to fill your marriage with
appreciation. It will NEVER come naturally. You
have to make it a conscious discipline.

So how do you do that? That's one of the many
marriage-transforming practices you'll learn in
the Marriage Fitness Tele-Boot Camp. If you'd
like to join me for it, go to

Marriage Fitness is a relationship renewal
program designed as an alternative to Marriage
Recent case studies show that it's
twice as likely to successfully save and restore
a marriage than traditional counseling. The
program offers a Duo Track for couples and a Lone
Ranger Track for people dealing with an obstinate

Be well,

Mort Fertel
Founder & Author of Marriage Fitness

Get FREE marriage help: Mort Fertel's '7 Secrets to save my marriage' available at

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