The Affectionate Man

Showing affection to your primary relationship partner has a wealth of benefits. It communicates your caring and positive feelings to your significant other, and doesn’t leave them doubting how you feel about them. Affection is the nourishment you need to feed your marriage so it’s stays vibrant and alive. It needs your constant attention if you want a healthy relationship or marriage, even after the honeymoon period in the beginning, or decades down the line.

What Constitutes Affection?

Affection doesn’t have to be a big thing, but it can feel like it if you don’t know how to do it. It can be learned, or at least attempted and risked. Here are some examples of affection.

  • Verbal: kind or supportive words; saying things to your spouse about how your feel about them; praising them for their roles or how they are as a person or partner; complimenting her; expressing that you were thinking about her; texts or calls to communicate these things; verbal validation of your wife/girlfriend/partner
  • Physical: touches, hand holding, back rubs, kisses; other physical acts of affection, that don’t have to be sexual in nature
  • Action-based: gestures of affection; doing things for your spouse or wife without her asking; doing things for her to alleviate her stress or her having to do it

“We weren’t affectionate as a family growing up..”

The fact that you didn’t learn how to be affectionate as a child, growing up in your family of origin, doesn’t mean you can’t learn how to do it as as adult. The chain has to be broken somewhere, and maybe it starts with you.

I think that as responsible adults, we have to learn how to do things for ourselves, and not lean on the fact that no one ever taught us the proper way to do things right, be they in relationships or in life. You can’t get by with “I don’t know what I don’t know,” forever, because you may be harming your primary relationship as a result.

It’s unfortunate that many men don’t know how to receive – or give – affection because they didn’t learn it from their parents. Many moms and dads have a difficult time expressing their affection for their sons, or daughters, and this can lead to negative emotional, psychological or bonding consequences. It may, as a result, be hard to get close to others, or it may lead to low self-esteem in a child.

The Positive Effects of Affection on Your Wife or Marriage, from My Wife’s Perspective

I asked my wife, Leanne – a clinical psychologist and the woman of my affection – to chip in on the subject, from a woman’s perspective. She had these points to make about men giving affection to their spouses:

  • Affection from your partner makes you feel more connected to each other, increases satisfaction in the relationship, and also makes you feel more secure with your partner.
  • Women are all different in the types and amounts of affection that they like. Get to know what specific kinds of affection your wife or partner needs and wants. Ask her.
  • Your intention behind the affection you give is also important. If your intention is to get your own needs met, she’s going to sense that. If your intention is to make your partner feel good, she’ll pick that up, too.
  • Women like to feel appreciated, just as men do. Women, as well as men, like to know that we are seen, understood, and appreciated as we are now. Try expressing that in your affection to your wife or partner.
  • Your affection should communicate to your wife that she is loved as she is. When women receive affection from their partner, the good feelings that come from this are more likely to be reciprocated, so you can benefit, too!
  • Validating your partner is an important way of showing affection. Communicating that you understand your partner’s feelings, rather than trying to fix the situation, is something that makes women feel more connected. Men are easily swayed by trying to fix a situation, so if that’s your tendency, watch it.

Start by having a conversation with your spouse about affection, and she what she’s needing and wanting. It would make sense to actually figure that our before you start giving her the wrong kind of affection. Go out on a limb and take a risk – even if you’re not used to or comfortable showing affection – because you could be adding a whole new dimension to your marriage if you haven’’t been doing so.

About Jason

As "The Man That Men Will Talk To," Jason Fierstein, MA, LPC is a private practice counselor and psychotherapist for men and couples in the greater Phoenix, Arizona, area. He works with struggling men to find happiness in their lives, and with their wives.
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