I am still new to MRP, but I've noticed that there is limited content related to relationships that are currently value adding and well-maintained. I know this might be because many of the members haven't reached this stage in their relationship, but for those who have I thought it might be helpful to share a valuable lesson I learned this week about expressing appreciation.
LTR has been sick all week. And no, not fake sick, I can tell that she is clearly miserable. She left work early on Monday, and after visiting the doctor, found out she was quarantined to the house for the rest of the week.
I typically work late on Monday nights, and when I get home I notice that my mother's car is parked in the driveway. When I come in, I see that my mom has supper waiting for me. I talk with her and find out that LTR had called my mom to ask if she would be willing to pick up her prescriptions from the pharmacy as well as a couple of groceries that she had intended to get after work. LTR knew she couldn't do these things herself, and didn't want to bother me while I was at work. My family is the nearest family LTR has, and my mother is retired, so it wasn't a big inconvenience. My mother asked me to make sure to tell LTR not to feel bad for asking for help, because she could tell LTR felt guilty for taking up her time. My mother assured me that she didn't mind, and that LTR had thanked her profusely.
When I go upstairs to go to bed, I notice that there's a note on the guest bedroom door. LTR had decided to sleep in the guest bedroom so that she wouldn't expose me to more germs than I had probably already gotten before she realized how sick she was. I left her be and went to bed.
I call her on my way home the next day to see if she needs anything while I am still out. LTR informs me that she is all set, and that dinner will be ready when I get home. I'm skeptical, because I'm not too keen on eating something she cooked since she is still very sick. When I get home I find out that she ordered my favorite meal from my favorite restaurant in town and had it delivered. But, this place doesn't deliver. Apparently, she called and talked the owner's wife into bringing food over to our house, and they agreed because we are regulars.
In addition to this she scheduled and paid for a cleaning lady to come and clean the house. We recently moved and the responsibilities are a lot greater than our old home. LTR claims that she knew I was studying for an exam all weekend and knows that it is hard for me to focus when there are chores to be done. And, since she was too sick to do them, this was the best solution to make sure I had one less thing to worry about. Finally, so I wouldn't have to worry about cooking, since that is her responsibility, she set up a "fit" meal delivery service through the weekend.
I realize that this sounds like one giant humble brag, and in some ways it is. Right now, my relationship provides me with value, but even before finding MRP I knew that didn't mean it always would. Part of maintaining that value is rewarding good behavior, just like you reinforce a child's good behavior. My LTR made sure all of her responsibilities were taken care even when she was too sick to do them herself. I had no expectations that she would make all of these alternative arrangements, but I am willing to admit that I am thankful she did.
Throughout the week I've made sure to thank her for the things I was thankful for. I've also thrown some extra comfort her way by checking on her throughout the day and playing doctor when I'm at home. Having an LTR who is simultaneously on shark week and sick, could have been for many couples a week fraught with whining, shit tests, comfort tests, and fights. But, when you put the work in on the front end, by vetting and setting boundaries regarding responsibilities, it is possible for an LTR to add value to your life.
If you are at a point where your LTR is in your frame, then expressing your appreciation when she handles responsibility well or adds value to you and the relationship is a powerful tool in reinforcing that frame. Seeing me approve of her decisions and providing her with positive reinforcement further solidifies my frame and allows the LTR to feel proud of herself for working to please me. In this instance, an overall win-win situation.