Do you ever feel unappreciated or like a beast of burden? If so, here’s your way out of the B.O.B. Club…
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Do you ever feel like you’re a B.O.B. (i.e. “Beast Of Burden”)? I don’t know about you, but when I was married and in the thick of working my ass off to support my family I felt very much like a B.O.B. This was a big problem because that meant I felt as if my primary value to the family was my ability to produce. As long as I brought home the bacon and made sure we could afford to send our kids to the best schools I was deemed useful, fulfilling my primary purpose as a husband and father. Other than that I often received the distinct impression my wife and kids would prefer the minimum interaction possible with me. If there ever was a fertile breeding ground for resentment, this was it.
Men Need Appreciation
It seems that everyone knows that women need to be seen and heard to feel good about themselves and their relationship. Well, men need to feel appreciated for the same reasons. Most of us are happy to slave away, fight the invading hordes and slay dragons all day. That is, as long as when we return home tattered and torn, our loving brood showers us with appreciation as we stumble across the threshold.
Unfortunately that typically doesn’t happen –it certainly didn’t for me. I still stumbled across the threshold battle weary and worn, but with no one to acknowledge my display of fearsome determination for the good of the family. Okay, so everyone is busy and distracted with their own issues to give good o’l Dad and Hubby much more than a passing “hi”. I get it. But it still feels crappy to think that my highest value to the most precious people in my life was simply a paycheck.
And it’s not like they weren’t aware of my feelings of being “used”. I occasionally joked with my (now ex) wife that I was going to start a B.O.B. Club for the millions of husbands and dads who don’t feel adequately appreciated. She would genuinely get upset when I did –which tells me there may have been a grain of truth hidden there.
If You Don’t Feel Appreciated Do Something About It
The problem with not feeling appreciated and allowing resentment to grow is that is easy to fall into a victim mentality. “They don’t appreciate me (sob).” And I admit, there were often times that I felt like a victim of my own family’s apparent lack of respect for me beyond my efforts. And the problem with being a victim is that you no longer take responsibility for your part in the matter.
It was frankly easier (and more ego satisfying) to throw myself into my work even more (“I’ll show them!”) and effectively disconnect, than address the issue head on. In retrospect I could also have chosen to communicate authentically and vulnerably with my wife and kids as to how I was feeling. This would at least give them a context and clearing to know how I was really feeling rather than just assume they didn’t care.
The reality was, of course they cared and appreciated my efforts. Sure, maybe they weren’t the best at showing it (what kids are after all) but all the resentment did was create separation. Separation that eventually led to a permanent one.
Everyone Needs and Wants Genuine Appreciation
No one, man or woman, likes to feel a lack of appreciation from the ones they love and work hard to serve. Granted kids will be kids, however, they can be taught the value of appreciating others. In fact, that is an incredibly important life success skill that should be taught. When your significant other appears to start taking you for granted, take that as a warning signal. Not that you are somehow being slighted, but rather that it is time to start communicating how you are feeling about it and what can be done to correct it.
There is no need to start or join a B.O.B. club. Frankly, the thought of bunch of guys comparing how thoroughly unappreciated they are just doesn’t excite me anymore. Since then I have learned that the best way to foster appreciation is to show it. And the best way to receive it is to say “Thank you! I so appreciate you appreciating me –you made my day!”
Sometimes we guys just waive off an act of appreciation as if we were just doing our “duty”, no big deal. Just know all that does is teach the ones we love to not bother in the first place.
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