I’ve become convinced over the years that eighty percent of divorces are unnecessary.
Unless a marriage is characterized by physical or emotional abuse, repeated infidelities, extreme financial incompatibility, or untreated alcoholism, a couple should be able to work out their differences and enjoy a satisfying life together.
But that’s easier said than done. A satisfying life together isn’t automatic, even when both spouses are fundamentally nice people. They can be respectful, responsible, and intellectually compatible; they can agree on child-rearing practices and the best ways of dealing with in-laws; they can have a fair and efficient system for household chores. But if they don’t truly appreciate each other, or regularly express that appreciation, it’s only a matter of time before a minor irritant becomes a major frustration, and a major frustration becomes a divorceable offense.
The need to be appreciated is, quite possibly, the most fundamental of all interpersonal needs.
Most rational people understand that not everyone is going to love them or even like them. But we all expect---or at least we fervently hope---that people will appreciate what we’re trying to do for them. We may not need much in the way of recognition or thanks, but we need something.
And when we don’t get it, a resentment sets in that feeds on itself.
We start asking ourselves why we should knock ourselves out for someone if he doesn’t even notice what we’re doing.
We start wondering if someone else might appreciate us more.
We start exploring options, and sometimes we act on them.
My guess is that more people quit their jobs because of inadequate recognition than because of inadequate pay, and that more people have affairs in search of appreciation than in search of better sex. The good thing is that virtually anyone, other than a self-absorbed narcissist, can develop the art of appreciation.