Q: Could you help us settle a growing conflict in our marriage? I always tell my wife I love her and would do anything in the world for her. That doesn't seem to do it for her. In fact, her response usually is, "talk is cheap. I want you to show me that you love me." I'm not sure what she means, and I need to figure it out fast.
I think I might know where you are stuck. You see, there is a huge difference between declaration and demonstration. In my experience, most men have not made that important distinction, while most women see it as very obvious.
Saying the words "I love you", "You're the most important thing in my life", etc. is a wonderful thing to do. And sometimes it's even enough, especially if your partner's love language is hearing. But if your partner's love language is seeing, (as I'm guessing hers is), talking alone just won't do it.
One of the many places I lived growing up was on the Kansas/Missouri border. In Missouri they have a saying called "show me." I don't know if your wife is from Missouri or not, but it sounds like she is saying "don't just tell, show me!"
The good news is that while most of us men are fairly slow with this stuff, we are trainable. Here's three steps to putting some hands and feet on this declaration vs. demonstration idea:
1) Pay attention - notice what your partner is interested in and talking about.
2) Think ahead - anticipate future needs and take the necessary actions to meet them.
3) Ask your partner these very simple, yet profound questions:
"what does love look like to you?" What you may think it looks like may be way different from what it looks like to her.
"what are three things I need to do on a regular basis to show that I love you?"
"what are three things I need to not do to show you that I love you?"
Whatever the answers, you have the beginning of a map on how to do this demonstration thing.
Remember, declaration is not demonstration. Trying is not doing. Doing is doing. So go do!
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