It happens naturally that wives are taken for granted. It’s the old xx≠xy chromosome thing again.
To understand the cause, we need to review these differences between the sexes: mission, responsibility, duty, and greatest fear.
- Men have many missions in life. Women have one mission: life.
- Men accept responsibility easily, if it furthers their agenda or current mission. Otherwise, they pick and choose according to preference balanced with urge for independence. Women accept responsibility easily in connection with their hopes and dreams.
- Duty to men means their obligation to fulfill whatever responsibility they accept as theirs. Women view duty and responsibility as synonymous.
- Men fear insignificance, especially in their woman’s eyes. Women fear abandonment.
Women expect to be appreciated and shown gratitude for who they are and what they do. However, men are different, partially, and it causes wives to be taken for granted.
Men also expect to be appreciated for who they are. However, when it comes to what they do, men see the world differently. If what they do is a duty or duty fulfillment, then they expect no thanks. Gratitude shown by wife comes across as an unearned gift, which men neither expect nor appreciate. Fulfilling his duty has its own reward (no doubt a feature that sustains his independent nature).
Fulfilling her duty, however, does not reward as well as with men. She’s less independent, so she needs more than self-gratitude all the time. It causes the ‘taken for granted’ gap, which in the normal course of family life the male nature fails to recognize.
Her problem develops this way: He judges her duty fulfillment by masculine standards. If he views it her duty to fix breakfast; haul the kids; make the bed; go to the bank; keep herself pretty looking; or whatever else, he treats her as if a man. He expects no thanks. Why should she?
Husband accepts and appreciates recognition for the roles he fills but not the specifics of what he does. Thanks for who he is confirm his self-gratitude for fulfilling his duty.
When wife praises his role as provider, protector, etc. rather than his duty, he translates it to significance. The more she promotes his significance, the less inclined he feels to depart.
The foregoing points to three lessons for wives:
- Fully expect to be taken for granted until and unless husband learns otherwise and early courtship isn’t too early to start teaching.
- Praise husband indirectly for fulfilling his duties by citing the bigger role he fills in family life. For example, he mows the lawn. Praise him for adding value to the home, improving neighborhood appearance, being needful (aka deserving) of a new mower, but don’t thank him for mowing.
- The more attention wife pays to uplifting husband’s significance in her life, the more attention he will pay to her duties. It doesn’t mean she’ll receive more expressions of gratitude. But she’ll see him with a better attitude for having her with him (aka no incentive to leave her).
In the final analysis, wives should expect to be taken for granted. God designed, Nature endows, and hormones energize men to do it. But as shown above, wives can improve the situation one way or another.