(originally posted on November 11, 2013)
Imagine your husband brings home a rare painting in an ornate frame and he wants to hang it up in the living room, but you can’t find any nails, or hooks. So you try to put this heavy piece of art work on the wall with some double sided scotch tape. It is not going to work. Even if you put rolls and rolls of tape, it might stick for a moment, but then it is going to fall off and you’ll be in worse shape then when you started because there may be damage to the painting.
That’s how it is sometimes in marriage. Some women are made of rubber when it comes to receiving compliments and affection. We can blame our husbands all day long (and they probably deserve some of it), but like I tell my kids “you are responsible for yourself”. There are a lot of husbands out there that are geniunly in love with their wives, but dare I say we aren’t feeling it.
I am not an expert on marriage in any way, but my marriage and self confidence has seen a lot of ups and downs in the past 15 years! So if you have a moment, I would like to share some advice for how to start feeling the love.
1. Quit Dodging His Compliments
JoAnne Summers (a pastor’s wife in Dallas Texas) shared at a women’s conference years ago that when responding to compliments you should try saying “That’s a nice thing to say”. My mom and I have joked about this for YEARS and we can’t say it now without bursting into laughter, but it has stuck with us. The point is, just take the compliment. Obviously “thank you” works too. Just keep it simple. If you want to resist a compliment for example:
- I like your hair- “Are you kidding, there is so much humidity today, it’s a disaster” or
- That soup was tasty- “well, I probably shouldn’t have put so much salt in it.”
Instead revert to these tried and true lines, “Thank you, that is really nice of you!” The end.
2. Be Quiet
Since my daughter received her cochlear implants I have had to have training in learning how to talk with her and encourage a response. Sometimes when teaching a young child or baby to speak we may repeatedly say “Mama… ma ma… say mama sweetie. Can you say ma ma?” All the while the child may be like, I would, but I don’t want to interrupt. I was told this is a common mistake for parents with special needs children. You want to encourage them so badly that you flood them with language and forget to pause. I’m talking about a really nice long pause that is adequate enough for them to process and digest, and then potentially speak. Similary, women often have a tendency to talk a lot more then men and so maybe the reason you feel like you aren’t hearing what you need is that you aren’t giving him the chance to say it.
3. Shoulder to Shoulder Contact
A guy doesn’t like to feel cornered into being emotional. Fishing for compliments isn’t ideal either. One way of encouraging the opportunity to bring back that loving feeling is through shoulder to shoulder contact which is covered in the book “Love and Respect”. Women like to chat face to face, dudes are more into doing an activity (like golf or video games) side by side. When I heard this it really made sense for my relationship. Men are more likely to open up and share some of there feelings when they aren’t on the spot. So I encourage you (and I) to try some shoulder to shoulder quality time with our significant others.
3. Love Yourself
Maybe the lack of love and adoration you feel is really coming from yourself. I know as women we feel inclined to put our own needs at the bottom of the list and put all other duties and obligations first. The problem is that the list is so long that you never get to the part where you get rest and are nurtured. It’s time to show yourself some love and you may feel instantly more “adorable”.
4. Believe Him
When your husband tells you look nice, or that he is happy in your relationship, just believe him. Rule number one about accepting the compliment is just the first step. Kind of like fake it ’til you make. The next step is to receive and believe the compliment. Back to my analogy of the big painting representing your husband’s love, I just want you to get rid of the double sided tape. I don’t care if your husband comes home with a cheap little poster that he bought at Walmart. I want you to get a drill and bolt that sucker to the wall, ya hear?
5. Know the Truth
We all know how much the devil loves to beat us up, and even more so how he loves to tear down a godly union. When you start doubting yourself, or your husband, or marriage turn your focus on God’s truth. There is a long list of references and truth verses here available for free download.
6. Know Your Love Language
I think everyone is familiar with The 5 Love Languages by now. It is a must read. If you can figure out what makes you feel loved then you and your husband can work at gearing your activities and exchanges toward that thing. Also know what his love language is, because bless his heart he is probably trying to tell you he loves you in his own language. When you realize that, you can see just how much he has been loving you all along. All the little cleaning up he was doing that you felt was undermining your domestic role was really his way of loving you with an act of service (not that I would know anything about that).
7. Be Yourself
Sometimes even full grown married women find themselves so desperate for affection that they try to put on an act. It’s never as appealing as the real you. If you are funny be funny. If you’re quiet natured that’s cute. If you’re into sports cool, but if fashion is your thing, own it. Being yourself is adorable.
8. Don’t Be Deceived By Fictional Romance
We watch The Bachelor or read Nicholas Sparks and think romance comes looking like a Ryan Gosling Hey Girl meme. It’s really just a bunch of gunk. Sometimes we have to pull the plug on these things if they are causing more harm than good. I have even had Christian romance novels that ended up making me feel like my marriage was inadequate. Don’t hold your husband up to these unrealistic standards. You may find yourself feeling more love and admiration when you stop limiting romance to chocolate and roses.
9. Stop husband comparing!
So Billy Bob writes poems for his wife every week and posts them on Facebook. Whoop-de-doo! I have fallen into the husband comparison trap before because my husband is an introvert and I have compared him to the extraverts that just live for PDA. This made me feel like my quiet husband was ashamed of me. So the man that would stand on a roof top and declare love for his bride is better than the man that actually lives it out behind closed doors? No. This is only one way we compare. Yours may be different, but none of it’s good. So don’t do it!
These are really great thoughts. I like number one, in particular. If someone dodges my compliments, sometimes I get all antsy to pin them down on it. "No really! YOUR HAIR LOOKS NICE!". hahaha- the aggressive compliment.
This is a wonderful list! Marriage is such an important thing and anything we can do to encourage it is so vital!!! I love your point on accepting compliments. I need to do that better.
I think this is a fantastic list Natalie! Marriage it tough, it’s work and all too often, it gets put on the back burner. I think you do need to cultivate it, communicate and work to have a strong marriage every. single. day. I love all you tips – especially #9, I would get so angry if my hubby compared me to other wonen, so why should I? I will refer back to this often I’m sure!
Such a great post! I think that listening one is sooo important.
Great advice – I am guilty of several of these!
You are not the only one! We all struggle with at least a couple of these and sometimes don’t even realize it.
These are some great ideas!
Love this post so much, I’m pinning! I think #1 is especially important. Not married yet but I know my boyfriend gets really frustrated when he tries to make me feel special and I shun the compliments away.
Great list and wonderful reminders! I always dodge his compliments and disagree with him, but I really need to work on saying, Thank you!
What a GREAT List, Natalie! Seriously… and that shoulder to shoulder thing is huge!!! Love the whole post!
Great post and great advice!! You are right about being quiet and accepting those compliments! I’m actively trying to work on those regularly! 🙂 Luckily, I’m not into fictional romance or husband comparing – though I have to admit, my girls picked some pretty awesome guys! We’re all so lucky!
Thanks so much Tobi! I appreciate that 🙂
Why is it so hard for us to just take a compliment? I dismiss my husband all the time when he says something nice. I know I should stop doing that.
“Love Yourself – Maybe the lack of love and adoration you feel is really coming from yourself.” HOKEY PETE That is terribly insightful! Nicely done. Thank you.
Hokey Pete! I don’t know if I’ve heard that before, but I love it. You’re the best! Thanks for the encouragement.
This is a great list!
RYC: I graduation season is just emotional for moms regardless of the age of their children!
Im grateful for the blog post.Much thanks again. Want more.