How to Show Love to Your Husband
In a healthy marriage, it's vitally important that spouses show appreciation for each other. And not just on birthdays or anniversaries. Ideally, expressing love for each other is a lifestyle that both partners take part in.
For several years after I got married to a wonderful man, I felt let down by him in this area. I showered him with touches and kisses on the cheek, and tried to hold hands when we walked together. But after a while, I realized that he didn't respond in kind. In fact, if I didn't take his hand, he usually didn't reach for mine. And he never kissed me spontaneously.
I felt disappointed and unloved. When I poured out my heart to him about all this, he shared with me how my "out of nowhere" affection often came while he was in the middle of something. It was an interruption that he was never sure how to handle at that moment.
His response sounded harsh to me at first, and hurt a bit. But when I calmed down, I started thinking about it more. And I had to admit it was true - my bursts of affection tended to happen while he was on his computer or trying to head out the door somewhere.
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I began to see that I was using affection to try and get his attention, and that it was more for me than for him. That understanding eventually led me to reevaluate how I was showing love my husband - and how he was showing love to me.
We've had conversations since then, and I've learned more about his viewpoint on getting and giving love. It turns out there was a lot for both of us to learn! But through those discussions and some detective work, my definition of expressing love has broadened. And we are both happier now for it.
Hearing my husband say that he was put off by some of what I did for him was tough. But it really was the first step to growing more sensitive to his needs.
Discovering Your Husband's Love Language
To effectively show love to anyone, it's helpful to know what would mean the most to them. In his book, "The 5 Love Languages: The Secret To Love That Lasts", Gary Chapman breaks down the different ways that people like to receive love. They include physical touch, time, and acts of service.
My own obviously was physical touch. But what was my husband's? It occurred to me that maybe his lack of touch towards me meant his preferred way of receiving (and giving) love was something else. And I was right.
Turns out, my husband's primary need is for time together. It doesn't matter if we're going out or hanging around the house. Just having set aside time for each other to really chat and laugh or even work through an issue shows him I care in a way that resonates with him.
Researching Your Husband
Here are some questions to ask yourself - the answers will start to give you insight into your husband. If you need to, ask him. He might be flattered that you wondered, and curious as to why you're asking. That's okay - he'll find out soon enough!
1. How does he show you love?
Some men more naturally show physical displays of affection, like holding hands, hugging, dancing, etc. But other men are more practically-minded. For them, doing chores or a special project around the house is a way to show their love.
2. What is his favorite:
Hobby Does he like to be outside and active or is he happier occupied with indoor activities?
TV show I know guys who record "American Idol" every week, and others who'd rather watch the NFL network all day. Your man probably watches a variety of shows.
Sport Jogging, tennis, frisbee golf - which does he get excited most about doing or going to see?
Kind of music My husband trained as a classical musician, but it was fun to learn that we share a love of jazz and classic rock.
Food He may like gourmet dishes or a local restaurant's pizza. Is there a family favorite, or special meal you make, that he often asks for?
Way to spend a free evening If he could get away for a couple of hours, where would he end up? He might want to take in a game, see a concert, or stay at home and finish a project.
Turning Knowledge Into Action
Once you have "the scoop" on your spouse, it become easier to think of ways to show your love that will be more meaningful to him.
- Join him in his favorite hobby. It may not be something you'd choose to do on your own, but trying it with him could spark a new tradition. Our afternoon tea times started with him asking me to join him - now it's an almost everyday staple.
- Make or purchase his favorite foods more often. The old saying "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" may not be totally true. But most men really do get excited about eating the meals they like, and will feel special when you provide them.
- Surprise him with a CD of music that he likes. You could buy a whole CD of a particular artist or download a variety of tunes onto a homemade playlist. Either way, it says you thought specially of him.
- Hand him a coupon for a night "off". Choose a night for him to spend doing his best-loved activity, and send him off with a smile. He may just invite you to take off with him!
- Keep it up. My husband didn't notice the new things I was doing for him right away. That frustrated me at first, but I pressed on, because I knew it was important to think of him and his needs as much as myself. The great thing is, it didn't take long until my husband figured out what I was up to. Then he started doing little things he knew I liked.
- Keep him in mind. One of the most powerful ways I've shown Bob that I love him is to get better at helping with handling our budget. It doesn't sound romantic, but he has that practical side, and seeing me grow in setting and keeping a weekly budget for the family has made him feel respected and cared for by me.