Q: My husband and I have very different personalities. One way this is manifested is in how we show affection to each another. I like to express my love by giving little presents or cards. I secretly wish he would do the same for me, but it seems that’s just not “him.” This is only a small part of our lives, but these little gestures of affection mean a lot to me. What should I do?–Try to change my husband by encouraging him to be more like that, or ask the Lord to change me so I don’t desire those things so much?
A: Your husband’s personality is probably one of the things that attracted you to him in the first place, so you wouldn’t want to change that in a big way. Of course, there are probably some things about his personality that you didn’t realize when you married him, and this may be one of them.
Couples whose marriages have stood the test of time often credit their success to three things: respect, acceptance, and communication. Marriage partners who genuinely respect each other find it much easier to accept their mates as they are, blemishes and all. If you don’t feel this type of love, ask God to give it to you. His love is great enough to overlook shortcomings, and keeps on loving even when we fail.
Also remember that just because people are a certain way doesn’t mean they need to stay that way–and love is a great catalyst for change! People who are in love are willing to do almost anything in order to please the ones they love. Here is where communication comes in. Too often mates rely on hints or suffer in silence, when just a little honest and open communication about their likes and dislikes, needs and desires would solve the problem.
Here are some practical steps that you could take to get more of the kind of affection you would like from your husband and to give him more of what he would like from you:
- Each make a list of the other’s admirable qualities–all the things you most love and respect about your mate.
- Think about the ways your mate expresses affection. (Hint: Women tend to be more sentimental and to express their love in the form of notes, cards, and gifts; men tend to be more practical and to express their love through actions that say, “I want to protect and provide for you.”) When you stop to appreciate your mate’s expressions of love, it helps you overlook his or her “lacks” in that area.
- Take some time together in a relaxed setting to talk about your favorite ways to be shown love, affection, and appreciation. Listen and learn.
- Once your mate has explained how he or she likes to be shown love, make a point of doing at least one of those things within the next day or two, then do them regularly until doing them becomes more natural.