Last month I shared with readers a fun revelation about shopping: men spend more than three weeks of their lives waiting for their significant other to complete the hunt. One reader responded with the most endearing expression of gratitude I could’ve imagined.
The shopping study revealed this: a commissioned survey of 2,000 adults found that a man spends 23 minutes per shopping trip waiting while his wife or girlfriend browses, multiplied by two joint shopping trips per month over the average adult lifespan, for a grand total of 24 days spent waiting. I likened this to the time spent waiting for my kids to be dismissed from school; time spent waiting for various repairmen to arrive for service calls at my home; and time spent matching black dress socks in my laundry room.
Such is life, and we deal with it as gracefully as we can.
But one gentleman from Glenview responded to my report in an email: “I’m a longtime husband who appreciates the incremental value, variety and quality of life my spouse’s diligent shopping brings to our life. I admit I lack the interest in shopping as carefully as she does, but that doesn’t mean I don’t benefit from her knowing how and where to find the things our family needs.
“If the downside of that means – at worst – I get to read a book or a Sports page, I don’t think I have much to complain about.”
I responded quickly to say that his wife is lucky to have her efforts recognized and appreciated, and I recalled a 2015 study I’ve written about before in which scientists at the University of Georgia found that gratitude consistently predicts how happy we will be in our marriages. It seems that saying “thank you” frequently demonstrates gratitude and appreciation that can protect couples from the damage caused in an argument.
“Even if a couple is experiencing distress and difficulty in other areas, gratitude in the relationship can help promote positive marital outcomes,” said lead author Allen Barton, a postdoctoral research associate at the university’s Center for Family Research.
Consider that as you go about business this week. We’ll spend a good amount of time bickering around the house over the long holiday weekend, and yet I’ll say, “Thank you,” to the young person who bags the mountain of groceries needed to prepare my Thanksgiving side dish, and I’ll wave in thanks to the holiday driver who lets me merge ahead of him just before I miss my exit off the highway. Our family’s blessing before the meal will undoubtedly give thanks for our full table, warm home and overflowing hearts while we sit with the people we care about most. And then the bickering will resume.
For that reason, make it a priority to thank your spouse for something or other during your Thanksgiving preparations. I will. They all deserve to hear what we have long felt.