This isn’t a parenting post, although I should say they are known among family and friends and even in school for being some of the most polite kids around. No, this is about my husband and me.

When my husband gets up first in the morning with the kids, I thank him.

When my husband fixes things around the house, I thank him.

When my husband does the caregiving for our children, I thank him.

When my husband folds the laundry, I thank him.

When I get up first with the kids, he thanks me.

When I fix things around the house, he thanks me.

When I do the caregiving for our children, he thanks me.

When I fold the laundry, he thanks me.

It might sound ridiculous, but in practice, it works.

I don’t remember when he started it, but every evening as he finishes his supper, my husband says, “Thank you for the food,” and if it was a favorite, a special meal, or there was something specific he liked about it, he adds a comment to that effect. Simple enough. 

Even though he did that (and still does) every evening, I noticed that it put a little currency into my emotional bank. You would think it would get old, but nope, it’s money every time. So I started thanking him for doing dishes or taking care of the kids after dinner, even if I was doing the job he wasn’t. It blossomed from there to where we are now, saying little thank yous to each other numerous times throughout each day.

Most marriages endure hard times, but if difficult life circumstances were Olympic events, my husband and I would make Michael Phelps’ record look just plain silly with multiple gold medals in every single one of both the summer and winter games since 1996. Each of these stressful events has spawned conflict and difficulty, but somehow we manage to thrive. Our habit of thanking each other isn’t the only tool in the robust toolbox that has gotten us this far, but it’s one of our favorites.

On those days when we disagree on parenting issues, the thank yous mean a lot.

On those days when one of us makes a bad decision, the thank yous mean a lot.

On those days when we’re sleep deprived, sick or just plain cranky, the thank yous mean a lot.

On those days when nothing goes right, at home, at work, or with the kids, the thank yous mean a lot.

And on those days when our world has come crashing down around us the thank yous have meant even more.

I hope we never stop this habit. Those little words have put a whole lot of emotional currency into both of our banks over the years. Currency that was much-needed and often cashed in, yet it cost each of us but a breath to give. 

We do a lot of thanking around here, and I’m sure thankful we do.

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Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on https://benswritingrunningmom.wordpress.com/. She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.