Then the rest of us took turns
saying one or two things we appreciated
about something the 'guest' had done.
Growing up in Tennessee, I heard my share of far-fetched stories about fishing and hunting. One such story was about Clyde and Marvin, two hunters who were very proud of their hunting dogs.
There was a lot of bragging going on as to who had the best dog. One day Clyde invited Marvin to go duck hunting. Clyde went on to announce that he had a new hunting dog and wanted to try him out.
As they sat in the boat with the new dog, a flock of ducks flew over. Marvin shot a duck that fell in the water about 100 yards from their boat. 'You want to move the boat over to where the duck is?' Marvin asked. Excitedly Clyde said, 'No! Let my dog get it.' The dog jumped out of the boat and ran on top of the water - picked up the duck and ran back on top of the water, and dropped the duck into the boat. Clyde looked at Marvin who seemed unimpressed. This happened several times. Marvin still did not seem to notice or say anything.
Finally, Clyde could not stand it any longer so he asked, 'Say, Marvin, have you noticed anything different about my dog?' To which Marvin replied, 'Yeah, but I didn't want to say anything. Your dog can't swim, can he?'
Some people would never acknowledge our accomplishments or gifts even if we had walked on water. They make statements such as, 'You should know I appreciate what you do. You know I love you.
I shouldn't have to tell you.' We all know people who brag about never complimenting anyone as though it was a great personality trait. Many people do not praise because they have been manipulated or used by people who praised them. Some do not trust praise because it seems people may want something from them. It seems phony or insincere. Perhaps we would be wise to use other words such as 'encouraging,' 'acknowledging,' 'thank you,' and 'valuing.' We are saying to another person, 'It means a lot to me what you did or said.'
There is a danger in many relationships that we take each other for granted. We assume they know we appreciate what they do for us. The truth is that it is important for us to acknowledge what our partner, parent, child, etc. do for us. In my book, I suggest that one night during our couple time or family meeting time, we have an 'Appreciation Night.'
When our boys were growing up, Karen and I wanted our dinnertime to be pleasurable. One of the after-dinner activities was to have one person be the 'guest of honor.' Then the rest of us took turns saying one or two things we appreciated about something the 'guest' had done. We shouldn't have to walk on water to receive acknowledgement!
Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through www.amazon.com.
Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700