In her inspiring and charming book Happier at Home, Gretchen Rubin writes about some of her resolutions to make her marriage happier. One of them is to give her husband more verbal “gold stars”, a form of affective affirmation.
Affective affirmation means “letting your partner know that they’re special, valued and you don’t take them for granted.”
She includes some surprising research that suggesting these gold stars are actually more important for husbands than wives:
Orbuch suggests that husbands need more gold stars from their wives because women get much more positive support outside marriage. They want it from their husbands, yes, but they do have it from other sources. Family members, colleagues, friends of both genders, and even strangers give more frequent affirmation to women than to men. Men, by contrast, depend much more on their wives for reassurance and understanding: Men’s relationships tend to be less intense and supportive than women’s…
The author concluded that she was likely her husband’s main source of affective affirmation and went on to make a list of ways she could improve in this area.
Kevin and I definitely love to collect a few gold stars. (Or scratch ‘n’ sniff stickers if it’s all the same to you!) In fact, just today when he came home from work, I promptly announced,”I unpacked your suitcase! And most of your laundry is done and back in the closets!” Practically a small miracle that should be brought to his attention, right? Oops!! Somebody was looking for a gold star! To redeem myself for begging, I gave him a gold star tonight while he was paying bills! Even if he won’t know what it was until he reads this blog!
Kevin is also good at giving me gold stars — instant gold star for wearing this t-shirt:
Haha. I’m working on my list of ideas to improve, but I’m going to have to keep them Top Secret since Kevin reads this blog.
Some gold stars it never hurts to give regularly:
- I’m so happy we’re married!
- Thanks for working so hard!
- I love you
- I really appreciate that you stopped by Whole Foods on your way home from work and chose the right salsa and bacon!
- You are super hot.
- Nice double unders!!!
Here are some more ideas to get you started: 10 Things Husbands Want To Hear From Their Wives, Five Tips For Each of The Love Languages (including affirmation), 7 Things Your Husband Needs To Hear From You, 10 Compliments For Your Husband, 7 Tips For Giving Gold Stars, Your [Noun] Looks So [Adjective]! - The Anatomy of a Compliment and Art of Giving One
And if that sounds too sugary sweet to you: How To Support Your Husband (without babying him)
Do you think women typically receive more affective affirmation? I’ve always thought about this without having a label to put on it, and now it totally makes sense. A lady in Sprouts stopped me in front of the cilantro the other day to compliment my sandals and ask me where I got them. Nice people on Instagram sometimes compliment my muscles. The middle schoolers down the street are convinced that I’m a mysterious upperclassmen. I keep in touch with friends and family practically hourly and enjoy their support. Although Kevin is all-around awesome, he’s probably affirmed of it a bit less regularly. Mostly limited to the guys in his office mocking our hipster neighborhood and asking about his CrossFit workouts.
Do you crave gold stars? How could you give more to those important to you? Everyone wants to feel special and appreciated!
Have you read about the 5 Love Languages? Do you know what yours is? People who feel the need for those gold stars most strongly may have the love language of words of affirmation. I’m more of a quality time girl myself, but I don’t mind double dipping!!!