14 Jul JUNE – Show more affection
Show more affection
This was a resolution initially set for May… but with the excitement of beginning my project I was a real overachiever when planning my resolutions. Working on my ability to compliment Matt AND show more affection was all too much. Don’t get me wrong – I was still showing affection, I wasn’t a cold bitch! I just wasn’t honing in on it like I should of it were a resolution!!! So, I decided to move it to this month and aim to do much better.
Creating a happy marriage begins with intention. It is my intention to show more physical affection to my husband. This by no means is an indication that our relationship is devoid of affection. I would actually say that compared to many of our friends or family, Matt and I are a very affectionate couple. But…I wanted to be better. My busy lifestyle often meant I was too exhausted or just not present most of the time. Matt loves cuddling on the couch whilst watching television, he loves spooning me before we sleep and when we wake in the morning, he loves sharing a cup of tea together in bed with the sun shining in on us each weekend. I love to do that stuff too, yet my mind is always on the go. My thoughts sound a little like this…’Am I walking this morning?’ ‘What uni work do I have to do? ‘Tomorrow morning, am I going to the gym?’ ‘What’s going on in my social media world?’ I was never in the moment, I always had my eye (and my anxiety) focused on what I was doing next or pointlessly reliving my day. Matt was honest with me and told me that he was craving more of my attention and affection of an evening. He told me that he hates how distracted I am and how much he desired for me to focus more on him. I decided to set this resolution because I wanted to be a better wife and listen to what he was suggesting. My commandments to ‘listen’ and ‘be in the moment’ guided this resolution. The last thing I wanted was for us to end years down the track with him saying “I’ve been trying to tell you things needed to improve for years.” I knew this resolution would bring about a whole new level of respect between us. If I can start listening 40 days into our marriage, I will be listening in 40 years too. I wanted to show him that when he spoke, I would listen.
Physical affection is beneficial to any close relationship. Research even claims that it makes you healthier! Studies have shown that when couples show physical affection in their relationship they reap the following health benefits:
Physical affection releases feel-good hormones. One of the reasons why hugging, holding hands, and touching feel good to us is that these behaviors elevate our level of oxytocin – a hormone that reduces pain and causes a calming sensation.
Physical affection is related to lower blood pressure. Among women, those who receive more hugs from their partners have lower resting blood pressure, as this study illustrates. It is unclear whether the same is true for men (I think it would be!)
Physical affection reduces stress hormones. In couples, increasing physical affection lowers daily levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yes please!
Physical affection is associated with higher relationship satisfaction. A study found that partners are more satisfied with their relationships the more physically affectionate they are with each other.
Physical affection today puts you in a better mood tomorrow. The benefits of physical affection aren’t confined to the moment. For women, engaging in physical affection with a loved one predicts an increase in positive mood the following day.
All of these reasons were motivation enough for me to start smoochin’! In order to satisfy my resolution, I sat down with Matt and we brainstormed ways we could show affection to one another. He was just as committed to this as I was and he told me that he liked knowing my resolutions because he could support me and try them out for himself – A keeper right!?!
Aside from the obvious, we agreed that being physically affectionate involved:
More kisses – not just when we left for work each day.
Cuddles on the couch
Snuggles before bed and in the morning
Showing more affection around other people
6 second hugs (studies show a hug that last for 6 seconds or more ignites all the juicy chemical reactions in the brain!)
At the end of the first week, I stood in front of my resolution board, hands on my hips, chewing the side of my mouth…Yikes. Not many ticks. Bummer…
The reason – time! Saturday and Sunday’s were easy. It was Monday-Friday that needed more work. I was so busy going for walks, to the gym or yoga then to work and coming home at night to work on the couch that poor Matt was not getting any of the affection that we had planned and agreed upon. My justification kept coming back to time! I remembered my new commandment to ‘use time wisely.’ This was not being wise! I really had to think about what was more important. I kept thinking about ways I could make MORE time to be affectionate with him. Maybe I could not work so late, or not go to yoga… Then it dawned on me. I didn’t always need to make more time, I just needed to make better use of the time we had. By being more affectionate in small bursts when I could I would give Matt some love “snacks.” Yes, I do realise this sounds weirdly creepy, but it’s not. It’s touch, cuddles, kisses and signs of affection at regular points of the day. Giving constant reminders of how much we loved each other as we washed the dishes, chopped the carrots or walked in the door – would keep us going until we had the time to engage in some quality affection giving (the main meal!). I asked myself – Am I pouring my best effort into my marriage? Or giving it the crumbs of and left overs of a busy day and a busy life?
Loving someone loudly is as beneficial as loving them through touch. Following on with my May resolutions to ‘compliment Matt,’ we continued to be more open with our words. We were kind, encouraging and complimentary. Matt had his birthday at the beginning of the month. In an attempt to give him a memorable and thoughtful present, I decided to dedicate a whole day to showing him how much I loved and appreciated him. Every hour, I posted a memory from our 6 years together. I shared so many reasons for why I loved him. He loved it and so did others. He texted me throughout the day:
“I love you so much you know how to make me happy.”
“There is nothing better than calling you my wife.”
It didn’t take a lot to ignite a spark and it was so gratifying to see him happy. We continued to speak to each other beautifully, we loved each other loudly and clearly. We held each other. We smiled. Our love was obvious to one another.
The grass isn’t greener on the other side – It’s green where you water it. Through applying these small changes to our marriage, we definitely improved upon our ability to be more affectionate. June was a busy month for both of us at work and in the lead up to our honeymoon and we often didn’t have much time together. Weekends were a different story. I reflected that we were much better at keeping this resolution when we had an entire 48 hours together. We had definitely improved on applying the small bursts of affection (the snacks) during the week, but weren’t so good at being affectionate for longer periods of time (the quality time). This made me reflect on how we spent our time Monday to Friday and prompted me to think about future resolutions in upcoming months to tackle this time problem. The following month would be taken up by our honeymoon and I knew we would be acing this resolution there. When we came home to our normal routine would be the challenge again. I needed to devote more time to Matt of an evening and get my priorities straight!
Showing affection is important in any close relationship because it is the means by which people demonstrate that they still do care about each other. Matt and I very clearly care. We just need to make time to care even more…
I am interested to know…How do you show affection to your loved one?