Feeling Loved

Last week, I spoke about how we often times feel unloved, whether by our spouses and/or our children. A good friend of mine asked if I could expand on this topic, especially the part when I ask why we withhold love from our significant other when we know what it is they need.

This week, I saw two couples and two men, all of which expressed their differences in how they feel loved. Interestingly enough, the wives needed and desired more “connection” in order to “feel” loved. The men either saw nothing necessarily “wrong” with their marriages and were quite content. When I asked how they actually felt about their marriage, they couldn’t verbalize a thought or feeling other than “okay.” Here is the discrepency – the distinct difference in how men and women feel and perceive their relationships. As couples grow older together, a man typically finds comfort in their wives presence, not necessarily needing anymore than that. A woman however, begins to need more, especially when the children leave the household. They need more “connection” and desire to do more activities together. Whereas, the man has witnessed that their marriage has withstood the turmoil of raising children and dealing with life’s adversities of debt, in-laws, health, education, etc. and they have grown to feel secure. A woman does not necessarily feel that way. They now have to redirect themselves to a different place in life – the children are gone, they may be on their way to retiring, they are either experiencing menopause or have finished, and mostly, their role has shifted. This is not typically the case for a man and therefore, the man continues to go about his behaviors as he has in the past. Women continuously need affirmation and reassurance, specifically as they go through the various developmental stages in life. Men do as well, but differently. The men I have seen this week speak about their sex life in terms of feeling “connected” with their wives. The women – rarely have they ever spoken about their sex life in terms of feeling connected/loved by their spouse. Again, the difference is on a broad spectrum. Men will feel loved and connected with their spouse through sex and women, many times do not. Especially, if they feel emotionally distant. They may still have sex with their husband, but that doesn’t mean that the act of sex is sufficient in making a woman feel secure in the marriage. So, what is there to do in this retoric cycle of differences in how we feel loved?

First and foremost, let us genuinely honor each other in knowing that God found it humorous to create us vastly different in how we perceive relationships and the needs we have to sustain our marriages. There needs to be a level of acceptance that we have different needs and at different stages in our lives. When we can be more accepting of what our spouse’s needs are, we can be more understanding. I have women who come into my office almost vomitting in a projectile manner when sex is brought up by their spouses as a “need” they have. However, these men are not lying. It is how they feel loved in a marriage (please note – I am not talking about horny 16 year old boys!) I also have men who come in rolling their eyes because their wives are asking for them to be more romantic. But, I promise my men, if they can learn to date their wives again, say the same compliments they once did, and notice the things about their wives that they may have taken for granted, that their wives will come around and remind them that they, too, are loved and reassure them (not to mention, they may get lucky!!)

As my friend asked, why do we withhold these types of behaviors when we know what it is that our significant other asks for? Several reasons. One being the differences in how we perceive our relationships. If one spouse feels content (and as one of my husband says, “if it’s not broken, what is there to fix?”) that complacency settles and they feel like the marriage has sustained itself on its own. Another reason could be that we are not loving our spouses based on their love language, but rather our own. I have spoken about love languages before and I always recommend that my couples read the book. My experience has been that most of the time, the husband doesn’t even know the wife’s love language and has been loving her in a manner this whole time that she does not associate with. And, the same holds true vice versa. The hard part is giving your spouse time to readjust or simply learn how to give you a compliment or to think about holding your hand because these gestures may not be natural for them. Third, bitterness and insecurities play a part. I often times see men simply repress and shut down. And, I see women become bitter and angry. Both become highly insecure in the marriage and are incredibly guarded. They cannot trust that the other party will respect their vulnerabilities. Unfortunately, they may not be able to unless they have an objective party come in and mediate how they are communicating with each other. More than 90% of the time, I hear husbands say they are “afraid” to say anything. I will have the man continuously repeat that until it dawns on the wife that they have created an unsafe environment for their husbands to be able to express themselves. Women, on the other hand, typically say that they do not feel heard or “what does it matter anyway because my husband doesn’t care.” After all, if they cared, they would’ve already “fixed” it, right? Wrong. Men may be “fixers” but not in the arena of emotions. They get lost. They are not typically emotive like women, nor do they even process the way we do and yet, we expect it and that is where the frustration occurs. We expect them to think like us, and they don’t. Just like we will never be able to think like them. That is what makes relationships unique and a journey in and of itself. Communication is key – ask for what it is you need and if your spouse is unable to give it, then there is another discussion that needs to be addressed between you two. Because if one spouse (not even both spouses) feel unloved, the likelihood of a successful marriage continues to destruct.

So, how do we get to a place where we feel loved? Can you remember as a child what it was you needed to feel loved? A mentor I had long ago mentioned that based on my childhood and culture, he found it fascinating that I gravitated towards people who were incredibly affirming of me and who were highly affectionate. It dawned on me those years ago that I, in fact, did. It was my love language. It was what I needed to feel loved. It was what made me survive my childhood, my adolescence, and my young adult life. When there were those moments when I felt alone and no one was there to lift me up, how did I find love? For me, it has and will always be my relationship with God. He fills my heart like no other. In the depths of aloneness, lonliness, frustrations, stress, and anxieties, my God is truly the source of me feeling loved. That is me. I know that everyone is different. For many of my clients, in order for them to feel loved, they first need to love themselves. For some of my couples, they need to rekindle the innocence of what brought them together to begin with. For my parents, it is the need to find a support group that can relate to the trials and tribulations of raising children. We all have our needs in order to feel loved. Do you know yours?

Charise

Charise Casiano

About Charise Casiano

Charise obtained her BA degree at California State University, Stanislaus and immediately pursued her MS degree at Mount Saint Mary’s College. During her college years, Charise left for one year to do missionary work. She traveled the United States troubleshooting with teenagers.
  • Aunt Mer

    Love your blog, often hits the mail on the head.
    From the perspective if your Ninong, his generation of men weren’t necessarily taught how to express their feelings. He showed his love by taking care if the family and that was fine until we had a semi-empty nest.
    Then I showed him what I needed to feel our love again by holding his hand and cuddling up to him putting his arm around my shoulders. Things he did when he was courting but forgot because the world revolved around our children for so long. Now he thought I spent too much time on the computer (working), so I sat on the couch next to him with my laptop while I worked and he watched TV.
    When we argued he would try to take it to bed, in the old days it was okay because we both had lots on our minds. But when it was just the two of us, I would snuggle up and sleep on his arm. He wasn’t mad any more.
    Miss him lots. But thanks for helping me remember what it was all about.
    Love you.

    • Thank you, Tita Mer! Your comments are so important to me! I miss Ninong, as well. He was just as much as a father to me as my dad was and was a wonderful role model. Love you!

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