The feelings of love that we have for our partner are certainly real for us. However, what happens when we lack the ability to fully express that love? While it may be innate to express some sort of affection when being physically intimate, many people have difficulties expressing affection in day-to-day activities. Affection is learnt from our parents, family and friends while growing up. Unfortunately, some families do not show affection amongst themselves or to their children and this can lead to adults that have never truly learned how to express their love to their partners. The following from Dr. Harley at Marriage Builders, is on how to teach people to show affection in a marriage. In this case men are given as an example, but the same method could of course be used with women.
Whenever I counsel a man who is not very affectionate, I give him a list of things to do every day. (I usually make up the list with his wife who tells me what to include.) He must do each of them and check them off the list as he does it. Here is a general example.
- Hug and kiss your wife and tell her you love her every morning while you’re still in bed. Rub her back for a few minutes before you get up.
- Tell her that you love her while you are having breakfast together.
- Kiss her and tell her you love her before you leave for work.
- Call her during the day to ask how she is doing and that you love her.
- After work, call her before you leave to tell her when you will be home, and tell her you love her.
- Buy her flowers on the way home at least once a week, with a card that tells her you love her.
- When you arrive home from work, give her a big hug and kiss and spend a few minutes talking to her about how her day went. Don’t do anything else before you have given her your undivided attention.
- Tell her that you love her as you are having dinner together.
- Help her clear off the table and wash and dry the dishes with her, giving her a hug and kiss at least once, and tell her that you love her.
- Hug and kiss her and tell her you love her in bed before you both go to sleep.
As the weeks go by, I have the wives review the list to be certain there isn’t anything in it that they object to, or that should be added.
Wives will often complain that it’s not real affection because it doesn’t come from the heart. If their husbands have to be told what to do, they’re not really being affectionate. But this exercise in affection is not fake. It is real. Their husbands really do love them and whenever they express that love, it is real. The problem is that they have not learned to express how they really feel. This exercise simply teaches them how to show their wives the care that they’ve felt all along.
In the wise words of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “Talk not of wasted affection, affection is never wasted.” This is the seventh instalment in our series of posts focused on marriage. We started with a look at six benefits of marriage, followed by an analysis of the Honeymoon period and beyond, the art of compromise, two traits that are scientifically proven to ensure a long, happy marriage, 50 tips on keeping a marriage happy from successfully married couples and the last one was on the best method of conflict resolution. We hope you continue to read the upcoming posts on marriage every other Wednesday.