If you have read Wife School; Where Women Learn the Secrets of Making Husbands Happy, you know that there are 8 A’s women are to deposit into their husband’s tanks (souls)–A’s that make men ridiculously happy in the marriage (Acceptance, Admiration, Appreciation, Attention, Activities, Approval, Affection (sex and Authority). If you have fallen into a slump, get back on the bus by focusing on these three A’s: Acceptance, Admiration, and Affection (ehh…sex).
Let’s briefly discuss/review these three A’s. We’ll start with Acceptance.
Honestly, most men are satisfied in their marriages if there is not too much emotional turmoil and they get enough sex. Men are simple like this. (Notice I said simple, not stupid). A man will rush into a burning building to save lives. A man goes to war (or to work) to protect and take care of his loved ones. I love the simple, heroic nature of men!
On the other hand, women are not so simple. Ho, ho, ho….you name it, we want it. We want to fix, change, upgrade, and improve everything in our lives. Actually, that’s not a bad thing, because as mothers and keepers of the nest, God made us this way so we can keep our cottages humming.
The problem comes when we add “husband” to the list of things we want to fix, change, and improve. Your husband wants you to enjoy him the way he is, without being in your fixer-upper program. That’s hard for women to do. When your husband senses your disapproval for him, his emotions dwindle for you. He withdraws and when you sense this, you react. What you get then is a normal marriage that begins to unzip.
But you don’t want a business-like marriage, right? You want one that is overflowing with affection, don’t you?
So here is an exercise that helps women overcome this normal downhill stream to focus on what the husband does wrong (the Biblical concept is contentiousness), and instead, accept him. (If you have read Wife School, you already know these secrets lie in filling out your Turquoise Journal!)
Make a list of all that your husband does to benefit you, a list of all the nice things he has said and done, little and big. I have pages and pages of huge things and small things that my husband has done for or said to me. A few months ago, I was reading through an old journal that had lists of things that David had done and I appreciated. A funny one from four years earlier stood out. In this example, David hadn’t romanced me, complimented me, or really, done anything ridiculously outstanding. Here is the entry:
“Today we took Jonathan to college. Last night, David packed the trailer and secured everything with tie-downs. Today, when the tie-downs flew off, he stopped the car and fixed them. I had a semi-emotional meltdown in the car about (a problem I was having) and he calmly listened and helped me sort through the issues. When we got to Jonathan’s apartment, he carried boxes in and helped set up the place while I took the credit card and went to Wal-Mart to buy more stuff. Then we drove to Nashville (3 hours away) to have dinner with Stephen (another son). He asked Stephen questions and was pleasant. He drove home in the dark with the empty trailer, which only had one light, while I slept.”
Emotion washed over me as I remembered the dutiful, faithful, and calm husband that I have. There was no gushing here, no declarations of his undying devotion, no surprise gifts. Just a steady, faithful man which I desperately need.
Your husband gives you gifts like this all the time, gifts that are meaningful to you. Maybe he paints your living room, maybe he plays ball with your kids, maybe he is nice to your mom. WRITE IT DOWN and save it all. When you re-read it, you will bathe your mind with affection and your husband will sense your affection and open toward you.
Remember, all humans come with a set of strengths and weaknesses. Write down the weaknesses you have that your husband has to put up with. (I borrow his stuff and I don’t put it back. I have stacks of books and notebooks all over our bedroom and he is a clean freak. I overspend …and of course, I’m only listing the lightweight stuff here, not the really bad stuff.) Focusing on your husband’s strengths and your weaknesses will reverse your natural tendency, which is to focus on his weaknesses and all the positive attributes you bring to the marriage. You won’t believe the difference in your affection for your husband when you faithfully read your lists for weeks/months. You actually sort of “brainwash” yourself. It is a huge flip.
Admiration is the second A to focus on in order to stir good feelings in the marriage. Men are starved for admiration. Famished. Some women are naturally good at admiration, and their husbands adore them for it. This secret, though, is actually dangerous in the wrong hands, as a woman with wrong motives can actually pull your husband’s affections to herself by admiring him. Look at the adulteress in Proverbs 7. Her lips drip honey! God is giving us a secret, Christian wives! Drip some honey! Tell your husband about all the manly things he does right (he does not want to be praised for how well he does the dishes). Tell him about his strong body, his logical brain, his great work ethic, and always back it up with a specific example. Husbands’ tanks drain nightly, so he will need an “admiration moment” daily–yes, daily. Few things tie heart strings around your husband’s heart and yours more than the A of Admiration. Except…eh…the next A, which is Affection….which is really….sex.
The A of Affection is the A that many women have to take on faith. I mean, we don’t have the same hormones as men. We don’t struggle with the huge sexual desire that they do all day long (actually, only 80% of men are like this. See Chapter 32 in Wife School if you are in the 20% who wants sex more than your husband). When a woman realizes how HUGE this area is to her husband and goes the extra mile to make this area of the marriage smokin’ awesome, well, she super-glues herself to his soul. I know that sex is not that important to you, but to most men, it’s at the top of their lists. Re-read chapter 8 in Wife School and make a great effort to hit this A of Affection out of the ballpark. You are the only legitimate sex your husband gets, so rock it to the moon.
Remember, men need food, oxygen, and the 8 A’s.
Blog # 2 will be “How to Get the Romance and Emotional Intimacy You Want in Your Marriage”. Blog #3 will be “How to Ask for What You Want in Your Marriage”.
13 Responses to How to Keep Affection High in Your Marriage
Julie…amazing insights! Thank you! What a difference it makes to “brainwash” ourselves and focus on those good things!
Remember that first Christmas when we ate at Carrie and Ben’s and wrote down “marriage goals” for the next year? Those are nice memories. That was almost 30 years ago!
I do remember that night. It was such a special time! I knew that Memphis was the right decision for us that night! Where else in the world would I find friends like these?!
Thanks Julie, I love the idea of writing down the good things my husband does for me. Just took our second son to college yesterday and my husband calmly drove all the way there and back, and listened to me talk out my seemingly endless feelings about the whole situation.
Hey, Deb. I understand completely. We took Benjamin last week (Kid #5) and I felt the same way. We are mothers. 🙂
Great blog, Julie! Thanks for the reminders for how we can love our husbands better! I need to make time to keep that list going, as it’s easy to take for granted all the everyday things my man does to make my life run smoothly. I hope people are buying the book, as it’s so full of wisdom!
And I’m w/ you and Deb. I was tearful all day that move-in day w/ my college freshman too!
I saw how sweet your husband was to you, Lisa, when the boys moved in. You have understood these principles for a looonnngggg time.
You never cease to amaze me, Julie. Great blog. I read your book awhile back and really need this refresher! Going to work on those A’s right now.
ha ha, Mollie. You are too cute and funny. Hope to see you soon! 🙂
Julie, I am so grateful for your wisdom and desire to help women make their marriages better! What an admirable, wonderful mission God has given you. I am reading your book and loving it!!!
Even after 45 years of marriage, I need to be challenged, reminded, and inspired to be a better wife!! Your book is doing that!!
Linda, your post made me happy. If YOU were “challenged”, then I am very complimented!! Thank you for your gracious comment.
How do I would love to sign up I’m already encouraged just by reading a few blogs #loveit
Thanks. Please send an email with your name to WifeSchoolOnline@gmail.com. I will sign you up!