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HELP FOR THE FAMILY

How to Show Affection

As the years go by, some married couples show less and less affection for each other. If this is happening in your marriage, should you be concerned?

 What you should know

Affection is essential to a strong marriage. Just as a regular supply of food and water is essential to keeping the physical body strong and healthy, a continuous supply of affection nourishes and strengthens a marriage. Even after decades of marriage, husbands and wives need regular reassurance from their mates that they are dearly loved and cared for.

True love is unselfish. It seeks the happiness of the other person. Thus, rather than expressing affection only when the impulse strikes, a considerate mate will perceive his or her spouse’s need for affection and strive to meet that need.

Generally, wives need more expressions of affection than their husbands do. A husband may love his wife very deeply. But if he expresses that love only at the start and finish of the day or only before sexual relations, his wife may feel unsure about whether he really cares for her. It is far better to show affection often throughout each day.

 What you can do

Show affection with words. Simple expressions like “I love you” or “You are so precious to me” can make your mate feel cherished.

Bible principle: “Out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”​—Matthew 12:34.

Tip: You need not limit your expressions of affection to speech. Write them​—in notes, e-mails, or text messages.

Show affection with actions. A hug, a kiss, or simply holding hands can show that you really mean it when you say “I love you.” Genuine care can also be conveyed with a soft touch, a loving glance, or an occasional gift. And what about doing helpful things for your wife​—perhaps carrying bags, opening a door, washing dishes, doing the laundry, or making a meal? To many, these things are more than practical assistance​—they are affection in action!

Bible principle: “We should love, not [only] in word or with the tongue, but in deed.”​—1 John 3:​18.

Tip: Treat your mate as considerately as you did when you were dating.

Make time for each other. Being alone together strengthens your marriage and assures your mate that you take pleasure in his or her company. Of course, time alone may be hard to arrange if you have children or if there is a lot of necessary business to discuss each day. Perhaps you can plan to do something as simple as taking regular walks​—just the two of you.

Bible principle: “Make sure of the more important things.”​—Philippians 1:​10.

Tip: Some busy couples set aside time for regular “date nights” or “date weekends” to be together as a couple.

Know your mate. Each person is unique in his or her need for affection. Talk together about how each of you prefers to receive affection and whether more is needed. Then, be diligent in filling your mate’s need. Remember, affection is essential to a strong marriage.

Bible principle: Love . . . does not look for its own interests.”​—1 Corinthians 13:4, 5.

Tip: Rather than demanding affection, ask yourself, ‘What can I do to make my mate feel more affectionate toward me?’