There's nothing like mutually-satisfying sex to put a big smile on your partner's face - and on yours.
But in the happiest long-term relationships, both people feel fundamentally appreciated for who they are and what they do...in-and-out of bed.
Appreciation: letting your sweetie know that you recognize and value what he/she does that makes your relationship a nicer place to be. It's the other gift that keeps on giving, except in a good way.
Sometimes though, it's the hardest gift to give.
In my conversations with men over the years, I've heard two relationship complaints come up again and again. It won't surprise you that one of those complaints is infrequent sex. The other is being under-appreciated for things like the salary they bring home, and for their efforts to romance and "please" their partner.
As one man described it to me recently, the woman he loves doesn't let him know that she appreciates what he brings to the relationship, and to her life. Not to mention that from his perspective, he consistently shows her in "a meaningful, quiet way" that she is at the center of his universe.
Assuming for the moment that she still loves this guy, there are several potential reasons why his "meaningful, quiet way" could sound just like silence to her:
• By her definition of intimacy, he might actually seem emotionally disengaged, even if he doesn't feel that way inside • If she values traditional "romance," he might seem unromantic to her - and attentive only when he wants sex
Another possibility is that he - as Wombat and Eileen have highlighted at Kissnblog.com - could be unaware that he's coming across as unappreciative of the things she does for the relationship, and for him...like, quite possibly, most of the housework!
So, like many couples, they end up in a downward spiral of withholding the gift of appreciation from each other.
In this downward spiral, both people grow increasingly resentful. They become unwilling to "take the risk" of being the first tosay something reinforcing or complimentary to the other person. And they are more likely to look for someone outside their relationship who can see them through new, appreciative eyes.
In other words, they're vulnerable to starting an affair.
And speaking of taking a risk, researchers reported that 75% of people who died during sex were having an extramarital affair. Now, before any of you start thinking, "Yeah, but what a way to go," let me tell you my theory:
It's less risky to try saying something nice to your partner than it is to find a whole new person to appreciate you...
...provided, of course, that you still care about each other and are invested in the relationship.
Because, if anyone in your relationship has already checked out emotionally, the gift of appreciation probably will be too little, too late.
Please. Don't be too late.
By the way, both women and men enjoy - and feel cheated out of - appreciation in relationships. That's why it has to flow both ways, folks!
And now I'm going to thank my husband for doing such a bang-up job on the dishes tonight, just as he raved about the dinner I cooked...