Every evening, when my husband returns from his long day at work, I rattle off a list of all the random, ordinary tasks the kids and I completed that day.
“Crazy morning, let me tell you! We ran to preschool, I got Otis down for a nap in between drop off and pick up, picked up veggies for dinner, then went straight to speech for B, but oh my, keeping Otis busy during that session was tough; he won’t stop moving! Lunch was nuts, food everywhere with both of them and then, of all days, B refused to nap… I’m exhausted and feel like I’ve legit been beat up by my toddler today!”
And then at the end, my husband usually responds with a… “Good job.”
“Good job” is a lovely phrase, don’t get me wrong, but it bothers me to no end when he says this in response to almost everything I tell him about my day.
I don’t want “good job.” I appreciate it – but more than anything, a simple, genuine “thank you” would make me feel more seen and truly recognized.
I find “good job” to be annoying, as if I completed a task properly like I met his, or anyone’s, expectations. I know I completed the tasks of the day, I’m well aware that I did my absolute best, he doesn’t need to confirm that for me.
What I’d really love to hear is plain ol’ simple gratitude.
Gratitude for the nonstop craziness that is life these days with two little boys; gratitude for putting up with getting food thrown at my face and on the floor; gratitude for cleaning up said food three times a day (not counting snacks). I don’t need flowers, I don’t need endless praise, not at all.
I just would love a really nice “thank you” at the end of our crazy day.
Of course, I don’t think I’m doing anything beyond extraordinary that deserves endless adoration. I just believe that words matter, and that acknowledging the various work and tasks your partner takes care of to better the family is a huge step in taking care of your relationship in general.
This miscommunication doesn’t come as a surprise though – when it comes to communication styles, often the difference between men and women couldn’t be more clear.
Men approach communication as a way to solve a problem, to provide a solution. When communicating, a clear point needs to be made; that’s the purpose. Women view communication as a way to share their thoughts, to release positive and negative emotions, and to bond with their partners.
I make a conscious effort to say “thank you” for everything that my husband does; I don’t want to ever take anything he does for granted. I thank him for the delicious meals he prepares almost every single night for us. I thank him for the long hours he puts into his work, allowing me to have more creative flexibility with my work and with taking care of our two beautiful children. I know that I married an amazing man, and I let him know this as much as I can.
I know my husband is grateful for me in the same way, there is no doubt, but the way he expresses it just isn’t in line with what my head and heart yearn for.
As I’m chatting about my days, I’m looking for a listener, I’m waiting for verbal hug; he’s hearing situations that he can solve if needed, and if there are none, he can give a great stamp of approval instead – “good job.” He hears what I’m saying literally, as tasks that can now be crossed off the to-do list and responds accordingly.
So then, if this is just how our bodies and minds are, how do we proceed without increasing frustration on my part?
Knowing that my hubby and I communicate differently due to basic psychological differences is a huge part of the puzzle to begin with. Acknowledging these facts and accepting them for what they are can make a big difference alone.
But acknowledging doesn’t erase the problem completely, and it’s not an easy way out – I still ache for that “thank you,” while he still thinks he’s providing just that.
So, while we agree to disagree in some sense, we also agree to try.
Because isn’t trying the other major piece of the relationship puzzle? He’s trying to remember that “thank you” are the true magic words, and I’m trying to accept his “good jobs” with grace and sincere appreciation, understanding what they really mean to him.
It’s not a perfect solution, but there rarely ever is one. So, we’ll keep communicating, we’ll keep trying, and I’ll keep responding with a pleasant “You’re welcome” every time a gentle reminder is needed.