The Appreciation Song

Andreas and I have been living together since 1998, and for the most part, we're pretty solid domestic partners. I contend that a big part of this compatibility is that we both make a very concerted effort to appreciate and call out the housework the other one has done.

Basically, whenever we notice the other has done something around the house, we tell them how much we appreciate them. In fact, we do it quite literally. "I APPRECIATE YOU," we've said for years. Literal appreciation is literal. Then, a few years ago, it started morphing into a little song:

There's nothing special about this tuneless, barely-rhyming little song. There's nothing special about the ridiculous arrhythmic performance art-style dances that often go along with it. The only thing that's special about it is that it is a way around taking your cohabitants for granted. The song may be ridiculous! The dancing may be awful! But when you take the time to recognize the work your partner or roommates have put in, you're putting some love pennies into the collective house happiness piggy bank.

No denying: living together can be drudgery, especially when you've been living with the same person or people for years and years. But when you take the time every day to demonstratively appreciate the people around you, it makes folding the laundry a little bit less tedious.

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    • I wanna put literal love pennies into the literal house happiness piggy bank, which I imagine to be covered in magic and rainbows. And it snorts when you put love pennies in. And it gives you a hug when you need to take some out. Also, he has a best friend that's a turtle. They go on adventures. And bring home fresh lettuce. The turtle best friend is mostly unrelated. I just like turtles. And so the house happiness piggy bank would like turtles, too.

      And that is how this post makes me feel.

      20 agree
  1. Love it! Although my wife and I don't have a song (note to self: write own appreciation song) we totally do this too. Even when it's something that is our job. And it really really does make a difference. We each feel appreciated and valued and it makes for a very happy house.

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  2. I love the video! So cute!
    My Mr and I are constantly saying that we appreciate each other. It's sweet and we're much more satisfied with our relationship now that we've been doing it. I think we even say it more often than "I love you" some days…
    But we're musicians! HOW DID WE NEVER THINK TO WRITE A SONG?!?!?! Quickly! To the piano! πŸ˜€

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  3. This morning I woke up to a completely cleaned kitchen and my gut reaction was to check if some kind of skinwalker had taken over my husband's body. This approach might be better…

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  4. I remember when you posted something like this way back on the Offbeat Bride page. I've taken it to heart and while I still get frustrated with him I try to appreciate the things he does do. It's really helped our relationshp.

  5. LOVE it! My partner and I like to say our happiness is based on "low expectations." And then constantly being thrilled (and expressing our gratitude) over every little kindness the other does.

    1 agrees
  6. I love this. This is one thing the hubby taught me by example–it wasn't something my parents demonstrated while I was growing up. We also don't have a song, but we thank each other for everything, even the stuff we do every day. It's one of the greatest lessons I've learned from him, and I'm so happy to see that other couples do it too!

  7. Honestly? I hate it when my partner thanks me for something I have done around the house. And I also hate it that he expects me to thank him for his participation. I do the stuff because it needs to be done, and I don't want an automated "thank you" for every fork I put in the dishwasher.

    • This may help: try to reframe the "thanks" in your mind as not so much a "thanks for doing this specific task" but as a "thanks… whenever you do stuff like this, it just makes me realize how much I appreciate YOU and all the stuff you do. Even though you're kinda supposed to do them because you're a grown-up now, I still really like that you do them, so I love you! And it just occurred to me to tell you, so I am."
      I know that sometimes a simple thank you can feel as though the people in the exchange are somehow socially bound to drudge through some antiquated ritual of empty words or begrudging guilt or something. But most of the time, with a couple, "thanks" is more of a sudden realization of "I don't tell you that I appreciate you enough. So let me do that right about…. NOW!"

      6 agree
      • Agreed. My husband is a person who loves to hear gratitude — it's not as important to me, but I've come to learn that thanking him for little things is a great way to remember how much I like living with him overall.

        1 agrees
    • As with all things Offbeat, if this post doesn't feel relevant to you, your partner, and your situation, feel free to disregard it. We're all special snowflakes here — one size does not fit all.

      6 agree
    • My partner and I would honestly both probably be pretty lazy with housework if we lived alone, but we both love cleaning for the other person. So we're always like "yay! thanks!" and love and stuff.
      My friend got annoyed that her boyfriend was like, "look, I did the washing up!" and I made her see that you can say "aww, i'm so glad!" without it being "you went above and beyond the call of duty, you did the washing up, you are a hero among men", because, yeah, the washing up is a shared job, but what's the harm in saying "thanks?".

      2 agree
  8. I love this! We don't have a song, either, but my fiance and I are constantly thanking/verbally appreciating the other. It's such a nice thing to have! (Especially those days when I'm cranky about having to do anything around the house.)

    OH and Ariel, I saw you quoted in the NPR blog article about raves, and I was so excited to recognize your name!

  9. Thanking my hubs for his work helps keep me balanced sometimes. When we've got six loads of unfolded laundry, I look at it and think, I'm glad he did the four loads tonight, after a 12-hour work day, without me reminding him we're both nearly out of socks. I don't think, Oh my GOD we have SIX LOADS OF LAUNDRY TO FOLD WTF?! It helps ease any resentment. If that makes sense.

    1 agrees
  10. Sometimes, just hearing the "dinner was great today honey" makes me want to cook that meal every night for a month! Its motivation. Instead of feeling like I'm the maid and nanny, he reminds me that he couldn't do life without me and how important I am.

    It helps me with my loss of identity as a new SAHM.

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  11. Hearing you sing this song is like hearing a teacher I really respect and love sing in class. Kind of surprising to see them brake out of a role but still very very aw inspiring!

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  12. I was telling my partner that I'd read it's astonishingly important for infants to be physically held – that a lack of loving, skin-on-skin contact during infancy and early childhood can mean the difference between a healthy baby and a child who dies from 'failure to thrive'.

    My partner now, at least once a day, strokes or pats me and says "you're important to me". Just like that. It's often patronizing, and sometimes hilarious, but it's him making a conscious effort to look after my mental and physical well-being.

    1 agrees
    • Ha – I'm almost sure I read the same article! πŸ™‚ ((It was based partially on research done in orphanages in Eastern Europe/Romania??))

  13. As the person who does the majority of the housework (we have very traditional roles in our home and we love them), sometimes I do get pleasantly surprised, but I just realized I don't often word my thanks in a warm way. I think I'll add an Appreciation Song to go with our "Best Wife/Husband Ever" and "The Dog Is Squeaking Again" songs. Homes are better with songs. Thanks!

    1 agrees
  14. We have an "I'm sorry" song which is pretty hilarious and makes us laugh even in the middle of really bad fights. It always helps us remember how much we love each other and how deeply stupid we are for fighting over such insignificant things. It works so well, I think we need to add an appreciation song to the repertoire.

  15. My boyfriend and I have a similar song but we only sing it when someone gets their comeuppance for doing something stupid. It goes "That's what you get, that's what you get…" It's all in good fun!

  16. Oh my god. I'm so glad I read this post.. Ariel, for the past two years or so I've heard your voice in my head as my Aunt Rhonda's, FOR SOME REASON. And my Aunt Rhonda is .. well, she's an .. interesting lady (she's a bartender, and they tend to be interesting…) with a loud, um.. distinct.. voice. I am relieved you sound nothing like her after all! In fact, your voice is frickin' adorable.

  17. While my husband loves the fact that I like to sing various songs using solely his name (a one syllable, easy to repeat name just lends itself to "Eine kleine Nachtmusik"), I'm sure he wouldn't mind something along these lines too. πŸ˜‰

    Also, I tend to say something like "I love you" or "Thanks – you're the best husband ever" but I think it would be better to explicitly say what I appreciate. Positive reinforcement, yo!

  18. Since first reading this post, my partner and I have incorporated our own version of the Appreciation Song into our home and it is AMAZING! Just thought I would share.

  19. The hubs and I like to be completely goofy with each other, so the way we express appreciation has also turned into a song. Granted its our version of the birthday song and goes: This is your appreciation song, it isn't very long, I love you! Short, silly and to the point. πŸ™‚

  20. I read this when you posted it two years ago, but I wanted to re-find it and comment as you have no idea how often this gets sung in our house and how much of a part of our household life it is. My wife and I sing it to each other, we sing a version of it to our housemate, I love the ethos of it. Noticed something that makes your life easier? Say thank you. Notice something that makes you life more pleasant? Say thank you. Notice how in love you are with someone? Say thank you for them existing. Most days this gets sung!

    1 agrees
  21. what you do here is really beautiful. It would have been a lot better if you didn't add all the expletives. I would have loved to have shared it on my wall, but my friends and I don't talk like that. of course you are free to do what you want but I'm just sayin' that it is totally unnecessary and takes away from your beautiful message.

    • Pauline, thanks so much for reading! Playfully coarse language has been a part of the Offbeat Empire's voice since my book, Offbeat Bride: Creative Alterantives for Independent Brides, was published in 2007. (I say "playfully coarse" because the cursing is almost always used in a positive and hyperbolic context, like "fucking awesome!") I absolutely do not expect that everyone will like the language — you know your friends better than I do! That said, this is part of how we talk in these parts, and I don't see it changing any time soon.

      Thanks again for taking the time to share your feedback!

  22. Can I just say OH MY GOD YOU SOUND LIKE PINKIE PIE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! (In the very bestest way possible)

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