I had a strange realization the other day at a friend’s wedding: The groom had just called his bride a “glorious human” in a speech in front of the crowd, which was quite possibly the best compliment ever. And suddenly it hit me: I couldn’t remember the last time I’d given my husband, Chris, a compliment—especially not one as amazing as what I’d just heard.
Sure, I thank him all of the time. I mean, I’m all about heaping on the praise when he takes my car to the shop for maintenance or makes dinner on a whim. But a flat-out, “glorious human”-level compliment? Err…
Since that amazing compliment came from an uber-newlywed, I took a poll of my buddies who have been married longer than two hours to see what the compliment situation was like in their households. The verdict: not great, with the exception of my friend Laura, who makes it a point to try to compliment her husband every other day. “But the flip side is pretty much zero,” she says.
Well…damn. I’m probably more like 5:1, flipped around. So basically, I’m totally bombing at this whole “giving your spouse props” thing.
Instead of wallowing in my shortcomings, I decided to rise to the challenge. I secretly created Chris Appreciation Week, with the goal of giving him at least one compliment a day. Easy-peasy, right? So you’d think.
I’m no stranger to doling out compliments: I give them to my girlfriends all the time, usually along the lines of “Your [insert body part or outfit] looks awesome!” Since that comes easily to me, I started out by telling Chris how great he looked. The next day I was in a rush, so I reached for the appearance compliment again. But Chris didn’t seem to really notice…or care. What the what? I have years of success with the appearance compliment. Why wasn’t it doing it for him?
It turns out, I was going about this all wrong: Hahn says compliments about who you are and what you do for someone are stronger than ones about appearance. For someone like Chris, compliments on his hair or outfit just don’t stick as much as ones about who he is as a person.