Helping her to know, believe, and feel.

I feel loved © Tatiana Morozova |
I FEEL loved.

Yesterday I asked you if your bride knows, believes, and feels that you love her. I then said, “If she can’t answer a strong ‘YES’ to all three of those, what do you need to do to change that?”

I suspect some of you immediately thought, “Why is it my responsibility?” That is a great question, and the short answer is it might not be your responsibility. If she has self-worth issues, or other self-limiting or self-destructive thoughts, it may well be that nothing you do or say can lead to her feeling you love her. If it’s really bad, she may not be able to know or believe you love her, even though your words and actions show you do. This does not, however, let you off the hook; you need to do all you can, and keep doing it, even if she can’t yet respond normally.

Loving your wife and effectively expressing that love are two very different things. You can love her a great deal, but be horrible at communicating/showing that love in a way that she can grasp. There are a number of potential communication gaps here, starting with her being female and you being male. The two of you use the same words, but you have slightly (or not so slightly) different definitions or shades of meaning for some of those words. Certain actions probably also have different meanings – walking hand in hand may mean more to her than to you, and sex probably does not make her feel loved the way it makes you feel loved.

Family of origin is another big factor because different families show love in different ways. In one family sarcasm is a way of saying ‘I think you are stupid’ while in another it is a loving way of playing. Just because something says love to your family does not mean it says love to your wife.

Another common problem is that there are different “love languages”. Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages is an absolute necessity for any couple – it will help you understand how each of you feels loved, and teach you how to love in a way that your spouse can feel. If you only own one “marriage book”, I suggest this be it!

If you are not 100% sure your wife feels loved, you need to find out. Start by asking your bride is she knows, believes, and feels that you love her. Then ask her what you do, or could do, that makes her feel loved. Never mind that some (or most, or all) of what she says makes no sense to you – it’s how she works, and if you want her to feel loved, you have to figure out how she works. Once you have a clue, start doing what makes her feel loved.

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13 Comments on “Helping her to know, believe, and feel.

  1. Good post! I myself struggle with the difference between knowing and feeling, not only in my marriage relationship, but also in my relationship with God. I know He loves me, but I really don’t feel it that often. Perhaps that comes from being raised in a ultra-religious household? who knows.

    As for my marriage, I think one of the biggest obstacles to feeling loved have to do with the fact that my wife and I have mutually exclusive love languages. My love languages, physical touch and words of affirmation, are very hard for my wife to speak (Because of her past experiences, both of them feel to her like hollow substitutes for real love.) I do my best to speak hers, but im just not feeling the love back. Its a big obstacle to say the least.

  2. How you express love is definitely something you learn. Your culture including how you were raised and the experiences you had growing up is the basis for that learning experience. Personally, I know that with a lot of effort, intentionality, and even help from your spouse, you can change how you express your love to both your spouse and your children. That is not to say that you will become perfect at it because we always slide back into our old ways if the Holy Spirit does not develop a permament change in our thinking. But one thing I can assure you, the effort and energy that it takes is well worth it. Here is a little thing I learned in my process of change:
    Change comes from receiving either new information or a reinforcement of something I already know but did not value.
    I must value the information I recieve. I must then apply the information and finally I must evaluate the results of the application and sometimes make adjustments in the application of it and then reapply and re-evaluate.
    Doing this over a period of time allows the Spirit of God to change my thinking because my thinking is the beginning of everything I do and I am.
    Final thought –
    My thoughts develop my words, my words develop my actions, and my actions develop my habits. My habits develop my character and my character develops my destiny.

  3. Though there is plenty of information in scripture and a host of other places, some just want to “receive” and not really give.

  4. “If she has self-worth issues, or other self-limiting or self-destructive thoughts, it may well be that nothing you do or say can lead to her feeling you love her.”
    Perhaps that’s it

  5. A great post that can change a lot of relationships if taken to heart. Learning anything new can be challenging but what can be more motivating than having our partner feel loved. This is a critical key to a successful marriage because love that is not felt might as well not exist.

  6. How true is the comment that one can love but one’s partner does not feel loved. Because my wife and I have different primary love languages, we both felt that the other did not care for each of us. My wife felt that all I wanted to do was sit down with her when she had so much she wanted to do and I never helped. I felt she never wanted to spend any quality time with me but just wanted to do things that prevented us making any connection. Add a few other stresses and we were considering divorce. Fortunately we were able to get counselling from a counsellor who found what the problem was and was able to give us the tools to address it. Both of us simply did not believe that the other was still loving, despite the other using their own primary love language to show that they did love.

  7. “If she has self-worth issues, or other self-limiting or self-destructive thoughts…”

    How would this be determined, short of going to a paid professional?

  8. @Wondering- That is certainly one option, but many others will be able to discern this, including many pastors. You can get a good idea by listening to what she says about herself – is is negative, does she think she deserves bad rather than good? Is she down on herself, very self critical, or never satisfied with what she does?

  9. I love the analogy of the rider and the elephant that Chip and Dan Heath used in their book “The Switch”: “But to us, the duo’s tension is captured best by an analogy used by University of Virginia psychologist, Jonathan Haidt in his wonderful book The Happiness Hypothesis. Haidt syas that our emotional side is the Elephant and our rational side is the rider. Perched atop the Elephant, the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagree about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched.”

    Even if she knows and believes that you love her, a lack of feeling loved (elephant) will override the belief and knowledge (rider) most of the time. Emotion is far stronger and capable of real, sustained motion. Knowledge and belief can power short bursts of change, but not long term, sustainable change.

    I finally heard my wife after 11+ years of loving her with acts of service. She wasn’t receiving it as love because she ‘speaks’ words of affirmation with a side of quality time. Add to that a weak sense of self-worth and it was almost the end of our marriage before I learned to love her in a way that she could feel.

    On a side not and speaking from experience, if you have some serious self-worth issues yourself, you will likely have a very hard time sustaining any effort to change because you won’t believe that you’re capable of it or deserving of the happiness you’re trying to create. If this is you, seek healing for yourself. It has revolutionized our marriage and my own happiness.

    • @Aaron McCall – I love the elephant analogy – never heard it before. Still, emotion can be dealt with if we work on in long enough and really want to change.

      I fully agree with you on the self-worth issues – if either spouse has them there will be trouble, and if both have them it can get ugly. Good for you for working on that!

  10. I pray that more women and men knew the difference between happiness and true joy. Happiness is based on “happenings at that period time”, whereas “true joy” is that state that comes from Christ and comes about as one is Christlike. We need to serve one another.

    Regarding Dr Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages, he’s really on target. The languages must be clear to a perceiver of the one who displays them to the one who loves them. Example: A married man sees his wife’s primary love language as his helping her with the ____(fill in the blanks) or his ability to listen to her without trying to fix the problem. His primary language might be physical intimacy with “gifts” being a close second. Yet, he continues to think that she is mainly a “gifts” lover and she also thinks his is primary “gifts.” What happened? Communication is not happening. We not only need to observe but “see” clearly and then it will be a “miracle.”

  11. Opps, I left out one point. What’s “worldly?” Is it the sinful nature or the lack of applying known God’s truth to a life? , myself, believe it’s not applying God’s known truth. I have to constantly ask myself what is God’s word on a subject. Am I in line with His desire or am I letting my “teaching from my parents or others guide me? Or, am I allowing His Word guide me?” If I continue down the first road (the one that comes from my heart, though the heart can be desparetely wicked) then I might be “religious” but am I following Christ?

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