Throw Him a Bone When He Picks up the Broom

Throw Him a Bone When He Picks up the Broom February 24, 2014

Dear Shaunti,

My husband and I have been getting irritated with each other lately. He said that I don’t appreciate him, which is ridiculous because I do! But he said that I never thank him for things like taking out the trash or mowing the lawn. Why should I thank him for doing something that’s his job?


Dear Irritated,

You are not alone in this question! I get this query all the time when I’m speaking at women’s conferences. But your frustration arises because you have a misunderstanding about how men are wired and what is important to them.

It is so easy for us women to never realize the fact that for men, being appreciated is their equivalent of being loved. Saying “thank you” to a guy is like when he says “I love you” to you.You know that awful joke that some guys teasingly say, “Why should I have to tell her I love her? I told her when we got married!” Well, the reality is that maybe they shouldn’t have to say “I love you” – maybe we should just know it somehow – but don’t we want to hear it? Oh, you bet we do. In fact, if my husband felt love but never said anything about it, I would probably be unhappy very quickly.

Well, it works the same way for guys, but for them, their “love” is appreciation. In my surveys of the happiest couples for my most recent book, I found that one of the things these couples do differently is that they’ve found the little day-to-day things that make the other person feel cared for. And believe it or not, what makes a guy feel the most cared for, is when his wife notices something he has done and sincerely thanks him for it. (“Thank you for mowing the lawn even though it was so hot outside.” “Thank you for taking the kids this morning and letting me sleep in.”)

That seems like such a little thing to us women, but nearly all men on the survey said it was important, with 72% of men saying they were deeply impacted by it. Why? Because a man’s greatest desire is to do something well –but since he doubts himself, his greatest need is for it to be noticed and appreciated.

Think about how “I love you” says many different things to us. (“You’re mine”, “I’m glad I chose you”, “You are attractive to me”, and so on.) Well, for a guy, hearing “I love you” is nice – but it doesn’t hit them in that deep way. Instead, what says all those important things to him is “thank you”, because it reassures him in all the ways he doubts. It says “I appreciate you”, “you take care of me,” “you did a good job” and so on.

So instead of getting irritated that he wants to be thanked for something that is “his job”, actively look for ways to appreciate and thank him. I think you’ll see just how much it means to him – and very quickly, it won’t be a chore anymore.

Wish Shaunti could speak at an event in your area? You can help! Forward this piece or others to a leader at your organization or church, with a note of recommendation. They can reach Shaunti at

Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her findings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit for more.

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