*This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family member who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
My parents got married in 1962.
In all this time, my father has never complimented my mother, and she is finally speaking out about what it feels like to go over half a century without a single compliment.
"In sixty years of marriage, I have never ever gotten a compliment from my husband," my mother recently told me.
"It's been really tough," she said. "Your father is a good man, and I love him, but it hurt not to hear him say anything nice about me for all those years. It made me feel like he didn't really see me."
Fortunately, my mother is a strong woman, and she managed to keep going despite never hearing an encouraging word from her husband. But I can't imagine how much harder that would have been if she didn't have the support of her friends, family, and me.
"I have never heard him say: Gee, your hair looks nice. That dress looks wonderful on you. This meal was delicious. The house looks tidy and clean. This cake is moist and scrumptious. Your pie tastes so good. None of those words have ever entered my ears," my mother said.
"In fact, the only time I've ever felt jealous of another is when I hear that one of my friend's husbands paid her a compliment. My heart feels a slight pain just hearing another woman describe how her husband always compliments her home-cooked meals or the way she keeps the house, or the way she looks," my mother said.
"It must be wonderful to hear those words from the man you married, but I don't think I'll ever know what it's like. Just call me 'the wife of zero compliments.' If he hasn't complimented me in sixty years, then I don't think he ever will."
I think it's time for my father to start complimenting my mother, but it doesn't seem likely after more than half a century.
"It's okay," my mother concluded. "I'm finally starting to get used to it."
I hope my mother's story can be a lesson for all of us about the importance of kindness and gratitude. If you love someone, make sure you tell them how much they mean to you, because no one should have to go decades without hearing even one compliment from their spouse.
As I heard my mother's story about my father never complimenting her in over sixty years of marriage, I couldn't help but feel sympathy for how much pain it must have caused her. However, her strength and resilience inspired me, as she kept going despite this huge lack of appreciation from her husband.
I hope that other people in long-term relationships can learn from this story and express gratitude for their loved ones more often. If you're in a relationship, take the time to appreciate your partner and let them know how much you value them. It could make a world of difference.
Compliments may seem like small things, but they can make a big impact on someone's day-to-day life.
Do you have any advice for my mother? Let me know in the comments below.