“When my husband died I started asking God for a hug. Not from Him, of course, but from a living, breathing person.”
Because my sweet mother-in-law had been married to her husband for 50+ years, one of the things she missed the most besides his presence was the daily dose of physical touch, or affection.
And sometimes I find myself neglecting this beautiful privilege that my marriage affords me.
Not on purpose, of course, but in the busy-ness of life we can rush through a hug or even shrug off affection because we aren’t willing to stop what we are doing and savor the moment.
Oh how I want to relish the treasure that this gift of affection is! I adore my beautiful grandchildren and would never think of shrugging them off. They run to me with open arms and my heart melts and I hold on as long as they will linger.
Let me ask you a question and I will give you my own honest answer: Can you remember when you last felt that way about your husband? Are your arms opened wide to receive his affection? I hope you can easily reply, “just this morning!”; or at the very least, “last night when he walked in the door after a long day at the office.”
But that’s not always the case is it?
Gary Chapman, in his book, The Five Love Languages, shares the five ways we humans tend to express love:
❤️Words of Affirmation
❤️Acts of Service
While I didn’t put these in any particular order, (I took the list straight from this website: 5lovelanguages.com), we often unconsciously place these in the order that we most want to receive them–and proceed to show love in the same way.
For instance, I think two of my strongest love languages are acts of service and gifts–meaning, that is how I tend to show love to others–even when their most powerful love language might be something completely different.
Let me explain. In 36 years of marriage I have watched how my husband speaks love to me. While I love giving gifts and doing things for others, he needs words of affirmation and physical touch, so I have to make a conscious effort to include those things in our marriage. It’s not that he doesn’t know that I love him, it just happens to be the main ways he “feels” loved. Our love is not based on feelings–we made a commitment long ago to a lifetime of love.
Our marriage is based on a common faith in a God who loves us and who helps us to know how to love…
…and as a wife who adores her husband, of course I want him to feel loved!
I won’t give away everything in Chapman’s book–you really should own a copy of your own (there is a link at the bottom of the page); and if you already own it but haven’t read it in a while, maybe you could use a refresher course before Valentine’s Day rolls around again.
There is no perfect marriage–only two imperfect people trusting a perfect God who can make our marriage a beautiful picture of love.
We don’t have it all together, but we really do love each other. We are committed to each other and to God–and we have learned, laughed and enjoyed the journey.
So here’s my answer to the question: I know the areas I am weak in. I confess that I can neglect to verbalize how much I love and sometimes even reject affection–intentionally and unintentionally–but when I realized it, I changed it. My last hug wasn’t a week ago or a few days ago–I’m consciously deciding every day to at the very least get an embrace before he walks out of the door in the morning; and if I am home when he walks back through the door in the evening, I try to stop what I am doing and welcome him with open arms. I want to take what I know to heart and use all five languages to express my love. I always regret it when I realize that I’ve rejected affection–but I have never regretted the choice to relax and enjoy a good ‘ole bear hug.
DID YOU KNOW? Studies even indicate that frequently hugging your spouse can produce biological benefits, such as lowered blood pressure, raising your oxytocin level, lowering your cortisol levels and even giving pain relief by releasing endorphins that block pain and improve circulation.
I don’t live near my mother-in-law, but I will never forgot those words. How much she missed being hugged. What a sweet reminder that it’s not just about our husbands. There are no doubt other people in your life that are lonely. That need a hug or a pat on the back. I don’t live near her, so I pray that there are people in her life who will be that answer to her prayer.
And every time they do, she will know that God is using that person to bless her.
Who do you know that might need a hug today? Reach out. Don’t be afraid to show a little love to someone–even if they reject it or uncomfortable with it, they will know that you care.
“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” John 13: 34-35
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