Are you tired of being taken for granted?
You aren’t alone.
In my research for this article, I’ve identified at least 100 articles from major news and psychology sources. Most of them cite lack of appreciation as a primary cause of divorce, break-ups and emotional distance.
Researcher M. Gary Neuman states that 44% of women are emotionally dissatisfied in their romantic relationship. The primary reason? Lack of communication and appreciation.
It is no different in the workplace. Tony Schwartz of the Harvard Business Review relates that the majority of workers, especially women, do not feel appreciated by their company. This is the main reason for turnover and lack of productivity.
Schwartz calls appreciation the single greatest factor in worker engagement. He cites the worldwide Towers-Watson study to prove it. He also made the following profound statement:
Whatever else each of us derives from our work, there may be nothing more precious than the feeling that we truly matter — that we contribute unique value to the whole, and that we’re recognized for it.
Back on the home front, most experts cannot emphasize enough the critical importance of showing appreciation for your partner. This is how to keep the love alive and avoid arguments and infidelity.
Women don’t have as many issues showing appreciation as men do, in my opinion. It’s as if some men have The “Other-Awareness” Disease. Let’s just call it TOAD. No matter how hard you work, they scarcely seem to notice what you are going through, much less appreciate your sacrifices.
This is TOAD in-action!
Sure, you can raise the issue and he may respond well for a day or two. Then, the disease takes over again. He eventually slips back into self-absorption and doesn’t seem to care how much you do, why or how. He’s more interested in the things he’s doing and it doesn’t matter what else needs to be done. (He still wants sex, though.)
Of course, you could just refuse to do a few key tasks around the house so he will be forced to man up. Then, he whines like a child and proceeds to do everything ALL WRONG. This way, you won’t bother asking him again.
If this goes on long enough, you’ll end up feeling like Huff Post blogger Monique Honaman describes: For years I have been the cook, the cleaner, the chauffeur… I don’t feel like we are a partnership… I’ve asked, demanded and pleaded that you help and appreciate me…just to be left feeling disappointed. I can’t do this anymore. I don’t want to live like this anymore. I’m done.
Then again, it might not even bother you that he doesn’t help with certain things. You may just want him to recognize and appreciate what you do.
Philosopher William James put it well: The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.
By the way, the following five steps are NOT phony self-help tips that sound good, but don’t actually work. These steps are for you if you are serious about getting the appreciation you deserve. The advice here is based on sound principles that have been validated by scientific research.
On a personal level, I am even more qualified to write this because I was cured by my wife, Hope. TOAD is not an issue any longer between us, even though I was as blind as any man has ever been and acted like a big baby to boot!
Disclaimer: If you are in a physically abusive, volatile or potentially dangerous relationship, then you need to seek help from an expert in domestic violence. These steps DO NOT apply to you.
So, if you are married to a non-violent TOAD, get ready to turn his world around.
If you are going to bring about real change, he NEEDS to know you are serious. No more begging for appreciation. No more putting yourself in a one-down position.
To get through to him, you’ll need to penetrate layers of false beliefs, bad habits, self-justifications, preoccupations and cluttered thoughts….all the way through to his primitive brain. That’s where the do-or-die motivation comes from. And he needs it.
Pleading doesn’t do that. Pleading projects weakness (to a TOAD). It will only bring disrespect and will not get you want you want. He may temporarily go along to get you to stop nagging. Then, he will return to his old ways.
So, you’ll need to send a more primal message, one that will connect with his need to have you in his life. The good news is that this isn’t difficult to do.
But first, stop pleading. In fact, I’d suggest you go a few days without pleading for appreciation from your TOAD before moving on to step two.
Off a cliff.
Out of fairness, he needs to know. If he continues along this path, the day will come when you cannot get back your fond feelings for him, even if you wanted to. You could end up like one of my clients who said: I want to love him. I want to be interested again, now that he seems to be trying. I want to talk and laugh together. But, I can’t. After so many years of neglect, I just don’t care about him anymore.
You can calmly tell him that this scenario is completely avoidable if he decides to be your partner in life and appreciate you.
In other words, he is in the driver’s seat. He can choose. However, you don’t have a choice. You really won’t be able to be in love with him, serve him, make love to him or live in the same house after so many years of living in emptiness.
TOADs need to feel they have a choice. If you tell the truth that one day, you won’t have a choice unless he wakes up, he’ll know it is up to him.
Whenever you think that it would be nice if he did something thoughtful, do that for yourself. If you think to buy him a shirt, buy yourself a blouse instead. If you usually feel obligated to make him breakfast in the morning, make it for yourself instead.
This isn’t about being selfish. It actually sends him the message that your needs are important. You are serious about meeting your needs. If he doesn’t meet them, then someone else will. For now, that someone is you.
The indirect (yet inescapable message for a TOAD with potential) is this: In the future, that someone else may be another man. Remember, you are sending the message to his primitive brain. The primitive brain thrives on competition. You want him competing to be the one to take care of you.
Step back and take care of yourself. It may not be as quite as rewarding, perhaps, but it will still be very nice to treat YOU well.
Don’t say, “It’s about time” or “What do ya know? You finally did something for someone other than yourself!”
At this point, the little boy in him is scared and trying to please you. Reward him. Reassure him. Then, gently remind him that you hope he continues on this path because it is the most important thing he can do to save your marriage. You don’t want to be without him, so you’re glad he is getting on the ball and thinking of you more.
The training of a TOAD takes a little time in some cases. TOADs can recover their sense of other awareness and become thoughtful people. But it takes time. In the meantime, you do not have to suffer as a victim.
It is important to keep taking care of yourself, keep him updated on how you are feeling and enjoy your own life until you can enjoy life together with him.
Can all TOADs recover?
My opinion is that, no, they cannot all recover.
Some men, whether by destiny or choice, will remain forever self-centered. I cannot identify for you the point at which you should give up on him. It is your decision. And you should also seek advice from an objective, trained, outside source before making that decision.
Honestly, if you ever decide that he is indeed hopeless, then you will want to know that you did all you could…that you honestly gave him the unmistakable opportunity to get it right.
Isn’t this a selfish approach? Won’t I get better results from “selfless” service?
Not likely. Not in the traditional definition of selfless service, anyway. Some TOADs take advantage of selfless service forever. What’s interesting here is that you ARE meeting his needs by demanding to be appreciated and connected. How is this so?
TOADs are not happy being so self-absorbed. They will be much happier when they clue into others. They just need some serious encouragement. You are doing him a favor by not letting him off the hook.
Should I keep asking him to get some help?
Slim chance of success. Here’s why: If he goes to coaching or therapy just because you insisted, it may only lead him further into his self-absorption. He’ll come home with all the therapeutic justifications for why he is the way he is because he didn’t want to go in the first place.
If he is going to get real help, HE needs to decide for himself. And he needs to do it knowing what is at stake. Then, the proper motivation is in place.
I find it very difficult to apply these steps. Why?
The steps will seem impossible for you if:
1. You do not feel worthy of appreciation.
This is your issue. The sooner you address it, the better. If, deep down, you do not feel worthy of respect, love and appreciation, then you will not be able to demand it congruently.
Your self-doubt will come through and his primitive brain will not believe he really MUST do something. At best, he will pity you. You’ve got to deal with your issues of self-worth, then these steps will be obvious and natural for you to implement.
2. You feel that a strong, appreciative, responsible man would never want to be with you.
Some women, at their core, fear that a strong, secure and caretaking man would never be interested in them. So, they settle for a TOAD because they believe that is all they can get.
Again, you’ve got to confront these feelings. In many cases, you may need help identifying the source of this angst and letting it go. It can be done!
I’m scared. What do I do?
If you are considering taking these steps, or making any change, fear may suddenly appear as your constant companion. This wouldn’t be surprising. We cling to familiarity as if our life depended on it. The truth is, what’s familiar is often miserable. Still, we cling to it because change takes us into uncharted waters.
Amazingly, many of us even fear happiness. Happiness, fulfillment, love and mutual regard are foreign concepts or meant for “other people.”
This is known as self-sabotage.
Self-sabotage occurs when you end up doing the opposite of what will make you happy. It can happen because you were “programmed” that way (you don’t know any better).
Fear will also keep you in self-sabotage. The fear is often irrational, but deeply felt! The suggested resource here is the AHA Solution. Watch the free video. You need to learn how self-sabotage works and take the specific A-H-A steps to overcome it.
My situation is a bit more complicated….
Yes. I understand the complexity of the messes we can get into, as I have been in a few of my own. I’ve also helped hundreds of people sort these things out. The bottom line is this: TOADs don’t magically transform for no reason. TOADs need serious motivation and you can be the one to supply that motivation.
If your situation is complicated, then I suggest talking to a relationships expert to help sort it out. Either way, these steps – or very similar ones – will apply.
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Mike Bundrant is author of the e-book, Your Achiiles Eel: Discover and Overcome the Hidden Cause of Negative Emotions, Bad Decisions and Self-Sabotage. Watch this free video to learn more:
Learn more about this book here.
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Last reviewed: 9 Dec 2013