I remember praying one night for my husband to be more affectionate toward me. I was lying in bed the next morning when my husband walked around the bed to the bathroom. He leaned over and kissed my forehead. Yes. YES, I thought. That’s exactly what I wanted.
Today in our marriage, kisses on foreheads or hands aren’t scarce. Our marriage is affectionate, sensual and sweet. But, it wasn’t always that way. The night I prayed for my husband to be more affectionate was during a period of discontent and – I don’t even know what to call it. It’s hard to explain. It seemed we picked on each other more than we built each other up. We argued about nothing at all. We were both in it for the long haul, but we had some walls up.
I became the change I wanted to see in my husband.
My husband wasn’t as affectionate toward me as I wanted. But, it’s not like I was lining aisles with roses for him either. That was the thing – I wanted this kindness, this doting affection from him, but I wasn’t giving it.
When I thought about it, I realized kindness is love. To truly love my husband meant to extend kindness and grace to him. To not critique him. Then I considered how that’s what Jesus would do. He’d bestow love and kindness always. I thought about how honoring Him meant honoring the husband He’d given me. And I thought about how I needed to show real love and kindness to my husband as He would do. So, I changed the way I acted and reacted to my husband. And I started treating my spouse in the way I wanted to be treated.
I changed the way I acted and reacted to my husband.
I stopped resenting my husband for little things – like leaving his shoes out or not saying “thanks” for dinner. I just did the things. I did the things because they made me feel good, so I’d do them anyways. Instead of focusing on what my husband didn’t do, I was thankful for all the things he did do. And, I started telling him “thank you” for those things, too. It didn’t matter if I didn’t hear appreciation. I wanted him to know that I appreciated his efforts. Because appreciation is something your husband needs to hear from you.
I was quicker to share in-the-moment feelings or give compliments. I didn’t care if I didn’t get a compliment first or even back. In general, I was kinder to him, and I complained less. Not because I was biting my tongue, but because I simply decided not to complain.
I had to give kindness to get the affectionate relationship I wanted.
It was in being kinder to my husband that I began to see the changes I wanted in him. My mom’s golden rule of treating others how you want to be treated held true. I poured out love and treated him with kindness – and he began doing the same. We became gentler with each other – more supportive and more vulnerable. He did become more affectionate, but he also began to acknowledge where he could improve.
Change starts with one person.
What does everything I’ve mentioned have in common? Change. And not just any change – me changing. I had to first take a look in the mirror. How I could I do better? Where are my faults? It would have been easy to simply think, “My husband just isn’t affectionate toward me.” But I knew it didn’t fall solely on him. How I was contributing to the lack of affection?
A problem in marriage is never one-sided. There’s fault or blame on both sides. I didn’t make my husband more affectionate toward me. I gave him the space, grace and love to become the affectionate hubby he wanted to be.