People have different expectations for expressions of love.
When we decide to embark on the journey of married life, we do so with a sincere desire to do everything in our power to bring happiness to the person with whom we have chosen to share our life and to love as long as we live.
However, this longing can meet with frustration if we see that, despite our good will and our actions done for love, our spouse doesn’t feel loved, and there are persistent conflicts between us.
One reason for the problem can be that we come to marriage only with the concept of love that we have experienced in our family growing up. It’s quite possible that we’re reproducing what we learned from our parents, but their ways of loving and feeling loved aren’t what our spouse is used to or expecting. We need to examine how our spouse expresses and experiences love, to understand how to adapt in order to give them the emotional energy they need and renew our mutual love.
See how they express love
Becoming good observers will help us to identify the patterns of behavior in the way the person we love expresses love for others—how he or she habitually relates with other people and shows affection. Do they show their affection with gifts? Do they do it with a phone call? This information can be very valuable because we normally behave towards people we love as we want them to behave towards us, and therefore, we hope to receive the same kind of treatment in return.
Identify the most common complaint they make to us
When we don’t feel loved, we usually manifest it in some way. One common way is to complain. When our spouse complains to us, it’s worth looking past the negativity of the comment to understand what the person wants to say to us at that moment, although it may be difficult.
Knowing how to listen to what our spouse needs or expects from us can help us to fill an emotional void they are experiencing. If our spouse is always complaining because “nobody takes out the garbage,” by taking it out we may provide the kind of love by which they feel valued.
Notice what they ask of us most often
Something a person tends to request often is clearly important to him or her. In the case of women, these requests are sometimes less direct than when made by men, but their words will always be a message that communicates what makes them feel loved. Does our spouse often ask for hugs? Or that we pick up our clothes? If we hear these requests often, we can anticipate their desires and do those acts of love to surprise them and give them what they expect from us.
Ask them what makes them feel loved
We can start a conversation with our spouse to ask them how and when they feel most loved, what situations inspire them or seem most romantic to them, and what their concrete expectations are when they talk about love. It’s a good idea to set goals by asking our spouse to make a list of things they would like us to do over a period of time. Ask them how we can love them better; how they could feel more loved according to what they understand by love.
In short, for relationships to work, we have to learn to love people as they want to be loved, not only as we’re used to loving (and they should do the same for us in turn). This requires paying attention to each other and to all the forms of verbal and non-verbal communication that we use in daily life. Practice makes perfect; based on the points mentioned above, what can we do today to love better?