July 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
July 16, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Growing Up Is Rough, Appreciation Can Help

I’ve come to terms with the reality that I am someone who craves recognition for completing the tasks that I am expected to complete. There is somewhat of a division of responsibility in my home between my husband and me, and I tend to feel good about the way we each contribute to running our household. And yet, the part of me that has always feared growing up and the part of me that also responds well to validation wish for my part of the contribution to be regularly acknowledged.

I’ve found that so many folks in my professional and personal life recently have explored a similar theme: seeking appreciation and recognition. This is at the heart of many moments of conflict between partners—moments when one partner may be experiencing the feeling that their efforts or work are being ignored or taken for granted. When I prepare meals for the week every Saturday night—staying up late and creating menus to be sure that we have nice meals through the week—I want this to be seen and applauded. Is it necessary? In our home, yes (as this is what allows less stress during the week). Do I feel that I am doing more than my partner by meal prepping? Not necessarily—there are so many other ways that he contributes in which I play no part. But do I still want him to see all I’m preparing and thank me for my hard work? Absolutely.

This experience is one that, as noted above, can lead to conflict when one person, perhaps, does feel that he is contributing more than his partner, and this becomes even more complicated when there is disagreement about how much work and effort should actually be exerted; if my husband believes that dishes should be washed right away and I don’t—and this is my job—he may be annoyed when he sees them in the sink. Or if my husband is in charge of cleaning but does not feel dusting is “necessary,” then we’re going to be in a state of disagreement and conflict when he doesn’t do this and I want the house dust-free.

This disagreement is one that we hear about often, at times involving the experience of weaponized incompetence, often leading one partner to take on more of the work. We can’t possibly keep a scorecard in our relationships, romantic or otherwise. This leads to resentment, and it is also impossible to constantly monitor and judge what task or responsibility might equal another. But there needs to be some type of solution to be able to feel as if there is support within the relationship.

I’ve found that typically the best first step is when people sit down together to identify the best plan to allow for a compromise, to recognize which tasks are liked or disliked. Note that each side will likely feel that the situation is unfair as there may not be a perfect solution. Knowing the expectation that the end result will likely not include a perfect plan where both sides get everything they want actually can help to minimize frustration. Another option when it feels as if there is an unfairnes between partners is to recognize that one may need to regularly teach the other. Don’t expect the person to see a mess the way you do, or to think like you do. This does not mean your partner does not care. It likely simply means that his or her brain works differently and that you need to support each other to see the other’s perspective as it tends to go both ways.

And then, recognize when your appreciation can go a long way. This will not “solve” the issue—and it is important to acknowledge that interpersonal dynamics and general topics surrounding mental health are not geared toward solutions; it is about recognition of emotions, a goal or plan, and then the ability to process this journey. Showing appreciation for your partner can allow for him or her to feel seen and noticed, even when the task is expected or occurs regularly—even daily. A moment of genuine reflection on the way that this person contributes—especially if you know that the task may be unenjoyable or time consuming—typically helps the person to be able to continue on in this task.

Empathize, validate, expect disagreement while respecting one another. Sometimes my husband recognizes my meal prepping and sometimes I need to bring him into the kitchen and show him, asking directly for the validation. But knowing that my efforts are seen—at least in some moments—allows me at times to feel less frustrated and more ready to continue that pesky and beautiful process of growing up.

Temimah Zucker, LCSW, works with individuals ages 18 and older in New York and New Jersey who are struggling with mental health concerns, and specializes in working with those looking to heal their relationships between their bodies and souls. Temimah is an adjunct professor at the Wurzweiler School of Social Work, an advocate and public speaker concerning eating disorder awareness and a Metro-New York supervisor at Monte Nido. To learn more or to reach her, visit www.temimah.com.

By Temimah Zucker, LCSW

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles