We all want to feel like our partner respects us and values all that we do to make the relationship work, so feeling unappreciated in a relationship can be quite upsetting.
Maybe you feel that your significant other just doesn’t acknowledge your efforts, or perhaps you feel completely taken for granted. Whatever the case, there are things you can do if you are feeling unappreciated in a relationship.
What does it mean to feel unappreciated?
Before deciding what to do about not being appreciated by your partner, it is helpful to understand exactly what does unappreciated mean.
A simple explanation is that feeling unappreciated means that you feel as if you are being taken for granted, and when you do nice things for your partner, they seem not to notice. Over time, this can lead to feelings of resentment.
Another explanation for what does unappreciated mean is that it involves feeling as if your value or your contributions to the relationship do not receive enough acknowledgment.
Maybe you do all of the housework but rarely get so much as a “thank you,” or perhaps you feel as if your partner does not recognize your value because all of their free time is spent with friends, or you make all the effort to keep the relationship going.
Why is it not okay to feel unappreciated?
Feeling valued in a relationship is important, so it is not okay to feel unappreciated.
Feelings of being unappreciated only lead to pain, and it is more intense than other types of pain because it is coming from your significant other and not from a stranger or acquaintance.
Eventually, feeling unappreciated in a relationship leads to significant pain, and you may begin to pull away from your spouse or significant other.
This is because when you have put significant time and effort into caring for someone else, and they do not acknowledge your effort, it is literally heartbreaking. When you are not feeling appreciated in a relationship, it may even feel as if your partner has betrayed you.
Another reason it is not okay to feel unappreciated is that it may lead you to believe that you have done something wrong when this is actually not the case.
When your spouse or partner does not recognize your efforts, you are justified in feeling unappreciated, but finding ways to cope with this feeling is helpful, so you can move on from the pain.
If you feel that you are not being appreciated, it can be helpful to understand some of the signs of feeling unappreciated in a relationship.
If you start to notice some of the following, there is a good chance that your feelings are valid:
Your partner never says thank you, no matter what you do. This means your partner is so used to the good treatment you give that they no longer take time to acknowledge all that you do. Your spouse or significant other simply expects your behavior and takes it for granted.
Your significant other never asks for your advice about major decisions, suggesting that he or she doesn’t appreciate your input or role in their life.
When your partner makes plans or commitments without consulting you, this is usually a sign of being unappreciated because it suggests your partner assumed you would be okay with whatever plans were made, and they didn’t consider your schedule or wishes.
You may feel that you are doing more than your fair share of housework or taking care of the majority of the responsibilities within the household or relationship.
You feel upset that your partner doesn’t acknowledge special occasions like birthdays, holidays, or anniversaries, even though these occasions are important to you.
Your partner cannot even make small romantic gestures to make you happy or make you feel loved.
You notice that your partner rarely asks you how your day was, or they don’t show any interest in hearing about your day.
It is obvious that your partner doesn’t consider your feelings. For example, he or she may willfully do something they know upsets you or just generally be cold or rude to you.
Your partner doesn’t consult with you about how he or she spends their time.
For example, your partner often makes plans with friends without telling you or goes out without telling you where they are going. It can start to seem like your partner doesn’t care whether the two of you spend time together.
If your partner comes and goes as they please, but you don’t, it can quickly lead to you feeling unappreciated because it is clear that your partner doesn’t care to include you in their plans and doesn’t seem to value time spent together.
If you are noticing some of the above signs, you are likely feeling unappreciated by husband or wife.
Another key sign of feeling unappreciated in a relationship is being tired of giving and getting nothing in return. You make sacrifices for your partner, give time and effort to the relationship, and go out of your way to make your partner happy, and none of it is reciprocated.
Feeling valued in a relationship is healthy, and while you cannot expect your partner to meet your every need, it is reasonable to expect your partner to appreciate what you do for the relationship.
So, how being appreciated affects us or our partner?
Appreciation is extremely important in a relationship because without it, the relationship will suffer, and you may begin to feel as if nothing you do pleases your spouse or significant other. You may also feel as if nothing you do is good enough to make your partner happy.
Here are some additional reasons that appreciation is important:
When you are feeling unappreciated in a relationship, you may feel as if your partner doesn’t notice you. Part of a healthy relationship is feeling like you matter to your partner.
If you feel “My wife doesn’t appreciate me,” you can begin to worry that you are the only one fighting for the relationship or that she wouldn’t even miss you if you were not around.
Lack of appreciation can lead to resentment toward your partner, which does not make for a healthy relationship.
There are other reasons that appreciation in a relationship is critical.
We all want to feel loved and supported by our partners, and appreciation communicates to us that our partners care about us and find us to be important. Feeling appreciated also provides a sense that you are safe and secure within the relationship.
The research supports that appreciation is important for a marriage.
For example, a 2020 study in Current Psychology found that feeling appreciated in a marriage, and expressing appreciation, were both associated with higher levels of marital satisfaction.
The authors of the study noted that this finding agrees with other studies that have also found that appreciation is important for marital satisfaction. They concluded that appreciation leads to marital satisfaction because it reminds people that their partners value them.
Based upon the findings of the research, it is evident that appreciation is important in a relationship. It can help you to feel that your partner views you as important and valuable, which leads to greater levels of satisfaction within the relationship.
Since appreciation is so important to marital or relationship satisfaction, you should take steps to cope or improve your situation if you are feeling unappreciated in a marriage.
Sometimes, having a talk with your spouse or significant other can be enough to improve the situation. Perhaps they are unaware of how you are feeling, or maybe they have been coping with a stressor or situation that has prevented them from showing their appreciation for you.
If talking about the issue is not enough, you may have to take additional steps to deal with feeling underappreciated in a relationship.
10 things to do if you feel unappreciated in a relationship
When you are not feeling appreciated in a relationship, the following ten strategies can be helpful:
1. Express appreciation to your spouse
Perhaps feeling unappreciated in a relationship has become a problem for both of you. If you express genuine appreciation for your spouse, you may find that you start to feel more appreciated in return.
2. Try to consider whether you play a role in feeling unappreciated
While there are situations where there is a legitimate reason for feeling unappreciated, it is also possible that you are reading too far into the situation.
Maybe if you step back and evaluate the situation, you will recognize that your partner usually appreciates you, and there have just been several instances where you have felt negatively. Similarly, you may be focusing only on the negative thoughts.
Try reframing the situation positively and thinking of times when your partner does appreciate you, instead of thinking only of the negative.
3. Know how to talk to your partner
If additional conversations with your partner are necessary, be sure to maintain a calm, respectful tone, and avoid blaming them. Use “I” statements to describe how you feel, and give specific examples of behaviors or patterns of behaviors that make you feel as if you are not appreciated.
This can give your partner a greater awareness of what you need to stop feeling used and unappreciated.
4. Divide labor within the relationship
If you feel as if you are tired of giving and getting nothing in return, it may be that you are taking on the majority of the daily work within the relationship or family.
Sit down and have an honest conversation about responsibilities, and talk about expectations for how to fairly divide the work.
Perhaps your partner was not aware of how much you were taking on, and having a conversation will draw attention to just how much you have been doing on your own.
If your partner steps up and contributes more as a result of the conversation, the chances are that this will resolve feelings of not being appreciated.
5. Focus on yourself
One of the harsh and seemingly unfair realities of life is that sometimes, you may be willing to put forth more effort than others. Romantic relationships are no exception to this rule.
If you are given to making grand romantic gestures or sacrificing everything for your relationship, the reality is that this level of effort may not always be reciprocated or recognized.
Instead of pouring all of your efforts into the relationship, it may be time to focus on your own goals so you do not feel unappreciated in a relationship.
6. Practice self-care to show appreciation for yourself
If you are experiencing a lack of appreciation in your relationship, small acts of self-care can help you overcome these feelings.
Instead of waiting for your spouse or significant other to express gratitude for all you did for the family throughout the week, treat yourself to a new outfit or enjoy a warm bath after dinner to show appreciation for yourself.
7. Be confident
You may feel that your partner does not appreciate you, but do not let this destroy your confidence. Recognize that the things you do for the relationship are valuable.
8. Try not to dwell on unappreciated love
When you are feeling unappreciated in a relationship, it can be easy to dwell on your feelings.
This will only lead you to feel worse, and you may even become depressed or feel as if you are worthless. Instead of dwelling on feeling unappreciated in a relationship, focus on the positives in your life.
Think about people in your life, such as friends or coworkers, who have appreciated you, or make a list of your positive qualities or accomplishments to boost your mood.
9. Consider when it may be time to move on
If you are in a committed relationship and you are constantly feeling unappreciated by boyfriend or girlfriend, it may be time to consider moving on from the relationship.
If you have had discussions with your significant other, and hurtful behavior continues, you are justified in feeling upset, especially if you have made an effort to change your own behavior that may have led to unappreciated love.
After a certain point, you cannot force someone to treat you as you deserve, and you do not have to stay in a relationship that is one-sided or leaves you feeling unworthy.
10. Seek out professional intervention
Chronically feeling unappreciated in a relationship is not healthy, and it is not likely to lead to satisfying relationships.
If you find that you are always feeling unappreciated in your marriage, it may be time to talk to a counselor or therapist about your feelings.
If your own thoughts or emotions have led you to perceive your partner as unappreciative, an individual counselor may be able to help you work through these issues and help you to overcome feelings of being undervalued.
On the other hand, relationship counseling may help your partner to better understand your feelings and learn to show appreciation in a relationship.
Feeling undervalued in a relationship can be quite upsetting, but there are answers to what to do when you feel unappreciated. Have a conversation with your partner about the lack of appreciation you feel.
In the video below, Susan Winter describes how devaluing our own worth can cause our partners to not appreciate us. Take a look:
Maybe they weren’t aware of the problem, and laying out expectations can be helpful for both of you. Feeling appreciated is important because it makes you feel loved and secure in the relationship, and it reminds you that you are valuable.
If being unappreciated continues to be a problem, it may be time to re-evaluate your own behavior or seek professional intervention from a counselor or therapist. Ultimately, it is important that you recognize your own worth and learn to appreciate yourself.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.