“I was born with an enormous need for affection, and a terrible need to give it.”
― Audrey Hepburn
The thing that strikes me about affection is that it is a mark of mindfulness. It’s one way of saying to your significant other, “I’m paying attention to you“, even when you are tired or busy or have your mind set on other things. It’s a sign that you care about the other person more than you care about finishing dinner or doing the laundry or working on your blog. And it demonstrates that your love for them is greater than simply your mood, because you’re affectionate in the midst of the rhythms of your everyday life. It is an area that requires intentionality. In my experience, you can’t be affectionate simply when you feel like it… it’s an active practicing of love.
Will and I practice intentional “hellos” and “goodbyes”: when one of us is coming or going, the other stops whatever it is they’re doing, stands up, and really pays attention to what’s happening. No more mumbling, “Hey”, or “Love you, see you later!”. Instead, the person arriving or departing gets a hug and a kiss and a smile, and a few moments of eye contact before the other returns to their day. When we’re together, we hold hands, we kiss, we hug. We say “I love you” and “I choose you” and “I’ll be here, no matter what”. We are effusive with our affection, in both our touch and our words.
We feel both loved and loving because we do these things profusely. It has chased away apathy and selfishness and neglect, and has prevented either one of us from building up bitterness or anger… how upset can you be when the other person is actively, intentionally loving you? At the least, it causes whoever is holding a grudge to finally open up so we can resolve the problem. It has made all the difference.
“Lord, I pray for open physical affection between my husband and me. Enable each of us to lay aside self-consciousness or apathy and be effusive in our display of love. Help us to demonstrate how much we care for and value each other. Remind us throughout each day to affectionately touch one another in some way. Help us to not be cold, undemonstrative, uninterested, or remote. Enable us to be warm, tender, compassionate, loving, and adoring. Break through any hardheadedness on our part that refuses to change and grow. If one of us is less affectionate to the other’s detriment, bring us into balance.
Where any lack of affection has planted a negative view of marriage in our children, or taught them an incorrect way of relating to a marriage partner, help us to model the right way so that they can observe it. Show us how to openly confess our errors to them and demonstrate our commitment to live differently.
Change our habits of indifference or busyness. May we not so take each other for granted that we don’t make the effort to reach out and touch one another with affection. Help us not to weaken the marriage through neglect of this vital means of communication. I pray that we always, “greet one another with a kiss of love” (1 Peter 5:14). I know that only the transforming power of the Holy Spirit can make changes that last. I trust You to transform us and make us the husband and wife You called us to be.”