Little Things

How I Show My Wife Appreciation, According To 15 Men

There are a lot of things that go into a happy marriage. But showing appreciation is one of the most important.

Originally Published: 
image of man and woman holding each other on a bridge at sunset

“The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” So said philosopher William James, and there’s a lot of truth to this statement. And marriages thrive when appreciation is doled out often and precisely.

A simple “Thank You” is great. But, let’s be honest, it’s the store brand of showing gratitude and acknowledgement. It’s easy to say, gets the job done, and no one will dispute that, when said sincerely, it conveys genuine appreciation. But, is “Thank You” really the best we can do when it comes to recognizing the person we love? No. True appreciation is deeper, and much more nuanced. It’s about validation, saying — through words or through actions; often through both — I recognized this great thing you did, I’m thinking about you and how wonderful you are, or, simply, I notice you and don’t take you for granted.

So, how do you show appreciation? We asked 15 men to tell us their specific way of doing so. None mentioned grandiose gifts or wild displays of affection, either. In fact, all of the methods they suggested are simple, relatively easy and, most importantly, heartfelt and sincere, offering a blueprint for how to show appreciation in your marriage.

1. I Show Appreciation With Notes

“I “prescribe” vitamin me. I found these novelty pills. You write small messages inside, and your spouse ‘takes’ one every day. My wife has said that they make her day, and that she looks forward to them as a part of her morning routine. She’s a teacher, so she keeps them in her desk, and always starts her day with one. The messages are all over the place. Some talk about specific things she’s done that I appreciate. Some are more general. Some are just funny inside jokes. Our kids wrote a few, too. Those are like ‘special prize’ pills. I think she appreciates the effort that went into them – writing on such small pieces of paper took a long time. The hand cramps were a small sacrifice to remind her how much we love her.” – Joseph, 39, Ohio

2. I Show Appreciation With Foot Rubs

“My wife is a nurse, so she’s on her feet all day. The best way I can show appreciation for what she does is to rub her feet after a long shift. She just melts into the couch, and tells me it’s the most relaxed she’s felt all day. That makes me feel good, because she certainly deserves it. I’ve gotten pretty decent at it after a few years, with at least one foot rub per week. It started as a way to show appreciation and help her relieve stress, and now it’s become sort of a ritual. Clearly, the way to my wife’s heart is through her feet.” – Michael, 35, Pennsylvania

3. I Show Appreciation by Cooking

“My wife makes, like, two and a half times what I do. So, rather than have to worry about grocery shopping, keeping lists, and stuff like that, she treats us all to HelloFresh meals during the week. She buys, and I cook. She works long hours, so she appreciates having dinner ready when she gets home. She’s a really great cook, so I was intimidated when we first started doing it. But I’ve gotten the hang of it, and I can totally hold my own now. I think she appreciates just not having to worry about it during the day, and being able to enjoy the time we all spend together eating in the evening.” – Sam, 34, Florida

4. I Show Appreciation By Giving Her Alone Time and Supporting Her Passion

“My wife makes beautiful pottery…when she has spare time. Unfortunately, due to our three kids, both of our jobs, and taking care of our elderly parents, spare time is a very rare thing. So, I show my appreciation by carving out time on her calendar for her. Obviously I can’t just hold up her tool box and say, ‘Okay, go to the pottery studio for three hours!’ But, I can coordinate with the kids and figure out which nights I can take on all of the responsibilities at home. Those nights are hers, and she’s able to tune things out and relax with her pottery wheel, which I know she greatly appreciates. So, yeah, I’m basically Patrick Swayze from Ghost.” – Chris, 39, Nevada

5. I Show Appreciation Through Teamwork

“The dishwasher is my domain. If it’s not running, it’s either being emptied or filled. It’s not exactly moving mountains, but it’s an everyday job – multiple times, some days – that has to be done. I don’t love doing it, but I don’t mind doing it either. So it’s something I stay on top of to show my wife how much I appreciate all the other stuff she does around the house. We both work hard at our jobs, and at home. Cooking isn’t my thing. Laundry is hit or miss. But I rule the dishwasher, and she seems to appreciate that it’s one less thing to worry about, and that it’s a testament to our strength as a team as we try to keep our crazy house running.” – Neil, 40, New York

6. I Show Appreciation By Sleeping With Our Dogs

“Our dogs love my wife more than me. It’s true, and I’ve accepted it. That means they like to sleep in her room whenever possible. And that means they wake her up super, super early ready to start the day on ‘dog time’. They’re worse than kids. They’re up and begging to be petted at 4 am most days. So, on the nights I can, I put a baby gate up in front of her door and take the dogs into the living room where we have a big puppy pile sleepover. They wake me up at 4 am, but she’s able to sleep soundly for a few more hours. And, as much as she and the dogs love each other, I know she appreciates that gesture, and those extra hours of Zzzs.” – Hayden, 37, Minnesota

7. I Show Appreciation By Speaking Her Love Language

“Early on in our relationship, we learned each other’s love languages. Mine are physical touch and quality time, her’s are acts of service and words of affirmation. So, for lack of a better answer, I do those things. I try and keep tabs on stuff she wants to get done around the house, then step in and do them for her. And I leave her notes every morning. Sometimes I’ll write something quick on our dry erase calendar. Sometimes I’ll pack a note in her lunch bag. I think what she appreciates is the fact that, even though my actual gestures or notes might not always be home runs, I’m making an effort to connect with her in the way that means the most.” – Owen, 39, Colorado

8. I Show Appreciation By Bringing Her Breakfast in Bed

“My dad used to do this for my mom while I was growing up, and I saw how happy it made her. Every weekend, I’ll wake up early and cook breakfast, then the kids and I deliver it to her while she’s still in bed. They love treating their mommy like a queen, and I think she appreciates it because, while it’s not exactly difficult work, it shows her how special we think she is, and how she’s a priority in all of our lives. Eggs and bacon can go a long way in showing how much you appreciate your wife.” – Charles, 35, New Jersey

9. I Show Appreciation By Sending Her Cards to Her Office

“I send cards to my wife at her office. Simple, silly handwritten cards, maybe three or four times a month. The cards are, like, what, three bucks? And the stamps are 50 cents. But whenever she gets one, she texts me a picture of it with a screen full of smiley faces. So, the reaction is pretty priceless. I think she appreciates the surprise factor — there’s no rhyme or reason to when I send them — and the fact that they make her feel special at work. She’s told me before that her coworkers always get jealous, which certainly isn’t my intention, but makes our relationship even more special and unique.” – Tom, 38, California

10. I Show Appreciation With Surprise Succulents

“My wife loves plants. Which is great, because it’s an easy, simple way to brighten her day. Obviously, I can’t bring her a plant every day. But, when she’s had a particularly bad day, I stop at the greenhouse up the street from where we live and pick up a tiny little potted succulent. She likes flowers, and I bring her flowers, but the succulents are meant to be kept alive and nurtured. I think she appreciates my faith in her ability to do that, as silly as it sounds. I like having the plants around, and she loves tending to them. So they’re really gifts of appreciation that keep on giving, so to speak.” – Billy, 33, Florida

11. I Show Appreciation By Stepping Out of My Comfort Zone

“I think my wife feels most appreciated when she knows I would do anything for her. I’m not a big ‘go out’ guy. In fact, the year of Covid was like my paradise because I could always avoid hanging out with people. But before that, I tried to show my wife how much I appreciated her – and genuinely wanted to be with her – by doing things way outside of my comfort zone. Game nights. Big group outings. Church was a big one. Just all stuff I wouldn’t normally do on my own, I guess. But, I want to be with her. That’s what I care about. So all the background noise is worth it, and I think that’s what she appreciates.” – Mark, 30, Connecticut

12. I Show Appreciation By Sticking Up For Her

“My family doesn’t like my wife, plain and simple. Without getting into specifics, let’s just say that they don’t agree with our marriage. So the best way I can show my wife I love and appreciate her, is to stick up for her at even the slightest opportunity to do so. As difficult as it can be to try and reason with them, I feel like I’m doing the right thing. My wife, in fact, is a very tolerant person. So she’s much more forgiving than I am. But she’s told me that one of the things that’s made her feel most loved is how I defend her. It’s easy to show appreciation when everything’s running smoothly, I guess. So it means a lot to her that I can hold my ground during the tough times.” – Roland, 36, Michigan

13. I Show Appreciation By Sending Her Memes

“Memes have become a big part of our relationship. Memes, funny videos…basically anything we find online that’s funny, and worth sharing. I’m sure a lot of couples share memes, but I think the reason my wife appreciates it is because she knows she’s the first person that comes to my mind whenever I find something worth sharing. It’s like I can’t wait to show her, because I know it’ll make her laugh. Between us, we have a pretty unique sense of humor. I think that reinforces what a special part of our relationship sharing stupid jokes really is.” – John, 36, South Carolina

14. I Show Appreciation By Thanking Her Very Specifically

“I thank my wife a lot, and I do it very, very specifically. It’s a joke. I’ll say stuff like, ‘Thank you for pouring that cereal into the bowl so accurately.’ Or, ‘I love the way you close drawers.’ Obviously, it’s not the actual compliments that she appreciates. They’re all sarcastic and stupid. It’s more the game aspect of the whole thing, combined with the fact that I do actually notice the little things she does. Because I love her. And I’m in love with her. There’s never a moment I’m not looking and admiring when she’s in the room.” – Travis, 38, North Carolina

15. I Show Appreciation By Welcoming Her Friends

“I go out of my way to make sure my wife’s friends feel welcome whenever they come visit, or we go out together. My wife moved from her hometown to be with me once our relationship got serious. It’s about an hour-and-a-half away, which isn’t a huge distance, but she gave up a life she built there so that we could be together. When her friends come to visit us, or when we go to visit them, I try my hardest to be present, welcoming, and engaged because I know that, even though they’re geographically farther away, they’re still an incredibly important part of her life. Showing her I appreciate her is important to me, because I know how much she sacrificed so we can be together.” – Aaron, 37, Illinois

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