What is another way to tell an adult you are proud of them?
May 17, 2015 1:29 PM   Subscribe

My husband works very hard and does amazing things. When he has an accomplishment, I have a hard time thinking of something to say other than "I'm proud of you" but I think that sounds so patronizing, fake, and parental.

I've tried Googling this more than once and only come up with answers for parents to their children. I genuinely am excited for what he has done and.... I just can't think of anything to say other than "proud" and I hate that. What are other ways of telling my husband I am proud of his accomplishments other than "I am proud of you?" I do not have a very large vocabulary, not like he does, so often I just end up feeling stupid trying to express my happiness for his hard work and then I feel bad for my thoughts ending up on myself rather than him.
posted by ForeverDcember to Writing & Language (26 answers total) 42 users marked this as a favorite
"You amaze me."
"I'm very impressed with everything you've done."
"I love to see your success."
posted by xingcat at 1:34 PM on May 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

Best answer: My boyfriend works with a lot of asshole patients (and some asshole coworkers, as well), so I like to tell him things that are specific to the accomplishment, like:

"You handled that situation really well!"
"I bet the guys in the lab were glad to have your help."
"You're so good at keeping calm with asshole patients."
"Your coworkers are lucky to have you around to do all their work for them!"
posted by jabes at 1:39 PM on May 17, 2015 [8 favorites]

"A victory!"
"That's a huge win!"
"Go you!"
*high five"
"Nice job"
posted by slateyness at 1:49 PM on May 17, 2015

(And my personal favorite) "you are a rock star."
posted by slateyness at 1:50 PM on May 17, 2015 [4 favorites]

I text my husband Ryan Gosling memes. It somehow underlines and then transcends the cheesy patronizing feeling when he gets a photo of Ryan Gosling looking soulful with "Hey Girl, I'm so proud of you for nailing that interview!" on it. But we have the sort of relationship where that works.
posted by telophase at 1:52 PM on May 17, 2015 [10 favorites]

I feel like "I'm proud to be your spouse" has a very different and much less patronizing connotation - "I'm proud of you" sounds like you consider their success to be a product of your effort, at least in part, whereas "I'm proud to be your spouse" sounds like you derive pride from the mere fact of being associated with your partner.
posted by town of cats at 1:54 PM on May 17, 2015 [20 favorites]

Best answer: When I have achieved something difficult, I sometimes like it when people close to me ask what I liked about the process, or what I would do differently next time, or what surprising thing I learned while working on the project.

So maybe think of questions for your husband that show you were paying attention through the process and not just like, waking up at the end for the hooray part. Because obviously you weren't asleep while he toiled.

To more directly answer your question:

Does your husband have a strong Love Language preference?

If it's words of affirmation, then think about the character traits he has that helped fuel his success. Persistence? Patience? Curiosity? MIT has a list of more than 600 more personality traits. Pick a few that apply to him and let him know that you have noticed and appreciate/admire them.

Maybe he really likes acts of service? So using that as an example:

Offer to make a special dessert and tell him you want to celebrate his success.
Ask him if there is anything you can do to make the next project easier? Remind him that you are always there to listen if he wants to talk about his projects.

Maybe it's physical touch:

If his achievement was really physical, you could rub his feet after a long day.
Or if he likes a nice backrub you could do that for him.
Or just hold his hand and watch the sun set.

Maybe it's quality time:
Offer to go for a nice long hike to enjoy the extra free time he will (might) have before the next project.
Suggest a drive through a neighborhood you love, or to a special spot.

Maybe he really loves gifts:

That could take the form of the Ryan Gosling texts that telophase mentions.
Or a set of curios that you add to with each milestone.
Or a new fancy pen if he uses them.
posted by bilabial at 1:56 PM on May 17, 2015 [14 favorites]

Best answer: I was resurfacing our deck, and took a break. I said, "Well, back to it." And my 9-year-old exclaimed, "Wow, you work so hard!" It was such a pure moment. I'll never forget it.

It's not about the words. My 9-year-old is not yet capable of elegant wording, after all. It's about timing and feeling.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 2:07 PM on May 17, 2015 [7 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers so far. These are wonderful.

Bilabial, I will need to go back and look at our answers for that quiz. I am pretty sure his was acts like cleaning and food, quality time, and physical. Neither of us were very gift oriented.
posted by ForeverDcember at 2:10 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Impressed" and "inspired" are words I use in this kind of situation.
posted by Metroid Baby at 2:29 PM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding "I'm so proud to be your wife!". At least, I say this often, and I hear the husband version occasionally too. I love this one, it makes me feel really valued when I'm the recipient and I actually do feel very proud and happy and privileged when I get to say it to him.
posted by yogalemon at 2:42 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

"You are fucking incredible."
"Sometimes I can't even believe what you're capable of."
"I knew you were smart, but you just keep finding ways to top yourself."

These are things I've said when my partner has left me particularly wowed. They seem to make him quite happy.

Also, as bilabial says, I like the recognize traits he values in himself, like his thoroughness and carefulness.
posted by Yoko Ono's Advice Column at 2:47 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have this problem often. Part of it was that I didn't like saying "I am proud of you" but he sort of liked hearing it so I tried to bend a bit so I could say it even though I felt weird and like I was a mom or something saying that to him. He also tells me when he thinks I've done something noteworthy in his own ways. A few things we do.

- Just goofy text things (we don't live together) like the old ASCII high five o/*\o
- Specific noticings of things that were challenging for him or me in particular. So like for me if I handle a tough situation without turning into an irritable pill (my Achilles heel) him saying "You really kept your cool dealing with that, nice job. I'm impressed" so it's not just oh hey you did a thing but you did a thing that was challenging to you personally and did well at it.
- A way to convey that the efforts and accomplishments he has are great for the two of you "I am so happy to be with someone who is able to ___________ in such a __________ way" is a nice way to call out good achievements and also say something nice about your relationship
- I really think people, especially adults don't hear good words as often as they might like to especially when dealing with something challenging. So just a "Good job with that" even for small stuff is usually appreciated. Similarly "I know that was really challenging and you pulled it off!" is a great way to acknowledge a thing that was a struggle and is now over.

And there's always internet memes for the humor-inclined. I send this hedgehog to people all the time.
posted by jessamyn at 3:00 PM on May 17, 2015 [9 favorites]

"those guys are really lucky to have you" is a thing I say a lot to my husband re work stuff. He says "I'm impressed" a lot to me re my work, which I appreciate.

I'm not sure why but "nice job!" wouldn't sound right to me at all coming from a partner. I think maybe because it's something a supervisor says.
posted by fingersandtoes at 3:07 PM on May 17, 2015 [2 favorites]

"You did good" is one that gets used in our house.
posted by LobsterMitten at 3:09 PM on May 17, 2015

"You are the best at doing X" and "You're great" are ones we use, but they're a bit jokey (nothing wrong with jokey praise as well though).

Try specific praise of the thing they made/job they completed - stuff like "that cake tastes amazing, it's really light", "well done on getting that picture to hang straight, that must have taken you ages! It looks great", etc. I know my husband thinks I'm great, but hearing that I did a good job at something I put effort into is really nice to hear.

Or just tell him you're really excited and he's the coolest, or something like that. No condescension there.
posted by tinkletown at 3:58 PM on May 17, 2015

I have a hard time making statements that tell my partner and friends that they've done well, because I kind of figure they know they're doing well, and that it's their boss/supervisor/professor's job to give the professional feedback of "that was well done". This is an article geared towards parents but it helped me say things that I meant to my husband also. Instead of telling him "that's so great that your article is getting published, I'm so proud of you" I say things like "I love seeing you so happy with your work" and "I love seeing your words in print".
posted by aimedwander at 4:27 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

"You worked really hard! This thing is amazing."
posted by yarntheory at 5:21 PM on May 17, 2015

Best answer: My husband recently got an award at work and he was kind of embarrassed about it, actually. He didn't feel like he had done anything except go to work, and then they all gathered around him and presented him with a certificate.

I had a talk with him whereby I pumped him up by reminding him of the times before, when he was struggling while new at the job, and how far he had come (which is why he was recognized, he was #16 out 500 employees, and consistently #1 on his team).

He really didn't want to dwell on it but I made sure to make some special meals for him, extra pats on the head and extra hugs and kisses and vocal appreciation for things he does at home. I don't think you can have enough "thank you's" for when someone does something and I try to make an effort to thank him (and he does for me too, he is very, very appreciative of anything I do).

He keeps to himself and the co-workers have tried drawing him out into sitting with them at lunch, which he has done, reluctantly, and his supervisor was like, "hey, do you mind if I steal your husband?" when he was calling me on his break. They like him a lot, which I understand, he's very pleasant to be around.

Sometimes I will just tell him out of the blue how much I appreciate him and how much I admire what's he's does every day. "You know what? I really love you and appreciate everything you do." Some schmoopy hugs involved.
posted by Marie Mon Dieu at 5:56 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

"Wow, achieving the thing you just achieved is making you more sexy by the moment, I'm so turned on I think you just made me ovulate."
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 8:36 PM on May 17, 2015 [1 favorite]

'Hey, hard-workin man... I just wanted you to know that I am very aware of all your special care and attention/extra efforts/hard work, etc., and that you deserve acknowledged credit for all of it."
posted by cristalina at 9:19 PM on May 17, 2015

Tell other people about his accomplishments. If he can't be there to hear it in person, tell him later that you were just telling so and so about what a great job he did or is always doing with the whatever. You are telling the world.

Of course, bragging about your husband could be tedious to the people you're bragging to, so you'll have to calibrate it accordingly. But tell his mother, tell your mother, tell his siblings, tell his friends, if you can do it positively.
posted by pracowity at 1:30 AM on May 18, 2015

I don't know, a sincere "I'm proud of you" or "I'm proud to be with you" is pretty good.
posted by Medieval Maven at 7:44 AM on May 18, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks to everyone for their great answers. These are perfect and really help! I will just mark a few but all were super helpful.
posted by ForeverDcember at 2:30 PM on May 18, 2015

One thing you could do is ask him how he would like to be appreciated/complemented. Everyone is different in how they like to hear praise, I've found. Some people like to be singled out in front of a group, others in a private one on one.

I have learned over many years that I'm a 'Praise the result not the person' kind of guy.
Example: I build a new deck. If my wife says, "You're great!" that, to me, is meaningless in the sense that what does saying I'm great have to do with the deck I built? But if she says, "That is an amazing deck!", I will hear and take that to heart because "Yeah, it is a great deck, and I built it."

Does that make sense?
posted by drinkmaildave at 2:12 PM on May 20, 2015

I also think 'proud of' can come off as paternalistic, or taking credit for someone else's accomplishments. I like 'proud for' because it reflects back on the person who did the did the cool thing.
posted by Space Kitty at 9:43 AM on May 22, 2015

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