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Articles from December 2012

December 24, 2012

Is It Ever OK to Withhold Kisses and Hugs?

Following up on yesterday's blog post about what we should and shouldn't withhold from our spouses, I received a question:

[D]o you kiss and hug someone with whom you don't feel close and by whom you don't feel loved?...Kiss and hope you'll eventually feel it? Hug and enjoy feeling close to he who talks to you through gritted teeth?

This is a great question. I did not mean to imply kisses and hugs should never be withheld, only that withholding them to manipulate your spouse to give you more of them won't help a marriage.

Don't kiss and hug if it doesn't make you feel good about your relationship. In this case, search for every little sign that you really are loved, setting aside your expectations about how you ought to be loved.

Gritted teeth are a sign of resentment, of unmet expectations. You can't do much about your mate's unmet expectations, but you can do something about your own. Stop doing whatever makes you feel resentful (including kisses and hugs), and let go of your ideas of how you ought to be loved.

Expect to be loved (i.e., do not accept any behavior that a decent human being would protect you from if a stranger did it, like physical harm, believable threats of harm, or emotionally damaging diatribes or snipes), but try not to expect love will be shown through fairness, gifts, shared activities, loving words, emotional support, conversation, or taking out the trash before the garbage truck arrives. While you're tapping your foot waiting for any one of these, you're missing out on the others. You're not noticing them or you're actively discouraging them.

If there's something you need, ask for it. If your mate cannot or does not provide it, find another way to get it (without violating the integrity of your vows). I find that it helps to really drill down on needs that begin with the words "I need him to..." You are powerless to meet such a need, but it's usually not your real need.

For example, if you need an orderly kitchen, it doesn't matter that he's the cause of the disorder, because he's not the only one who can create order. If you need more praise or more deep conversation, he's not the only one who can provide it. Even if you need more physical touching, there are massage therapists, dance classes, facials, hospitalized children, nieces and nephews, and pets who can provide a good bit of touch and bring your need down to a level he may be more comfortable dealing with.

It's amazing how much a relationship changes -- and how quickly -- when any of the resentment in it is drained. I love hearing the astonished reports of those who try it.

December 22, 2012

What Should We Withhold?

I was asked recently about withholding hugs and kisses to encourage a husband to be more loving. I don't think it works, and I sure don't think it would be much fun.

Why sculpt the marriage you want by manipulating the person you love? Or by avoiding what makes your marriage enjoyable to you?

What should we withhold?


  1. That which we will later regret, like knee-jerk responses to words or actions we don't yet understand. Assume Love so you can see the loving if it's there before you react.

  2. Anything we feel resentful about giving, because resentment suffocates love.

  3. Revenge. Much better to find a Third Alternative to our disagreements. Pain or loss never engenders love or brings us closer together. A Third Alternative does.


December 20, 2012

What If It's All Over Tomorrow?

Tomorrow, the Mayan calendar ends. Does the world? A number of Christian friends see what they believe to be signs of the End Times for this world, too. More worrisome to me, the news media, keen on helping gun control along and ratings up, remind us now that there are 24 gun murders daily in the US and more than ten times this number of people shot daily.

We can see all this as reason to worry. Or we can see it as a reason to be today the sort of husband or wife or partner we imagine we could be. If you're still alive 26 years after your spouse dies (as I am), will you enjoy looking back at your part in your relationship? Or are you putting off being loving, grateful, kind, respectful, gracious, forgiving, generous, and awed for a more convenient day?

Gotta go kiss my bonus husband right now. He's an incredible man. I want to feel his love every day for the rest of my life, and I want him to feel mine, even if the worst happens to one of us tomorrow.

December 18, 2012

Date Night in Old Town

Looking for a different idea for Date Night with your husband or wife? How about a visit to Old Town? Lots of places have one.

Lompoc, California's Old Town includes a one-room school house, a building made of diatomaceous earth, and Sissy's Cafe, where you can stop for a wine tasting if you make it a midday date night.

Albuquerque, New Mexico's Old Town offers a special End of the World moonlight tour at 10 pm on December 21st, and moonlight ghost tours every full moon if the world does not end then. There are lots of places to eat before your tour in this Old Town.

Alexandria, Virginia's Old Town is best toured by day.(a long day, if you try to take it all in!). Not up for a tour? Choose any of the fine restaurants in Old Town, or take a dinner cruise on the Potomac from there.

St. Augustine, Florida is our nation's oldest city. This month and next, you can tour the downtown display of lights by horse-drawn carriage or on foot for a romantic evening with your honey. Shared oohs and ahhs do wonders for any relationship.

Wichita, Kansas' Old Town offers free carriage rides this coming Saturday from noon to 4 pm. Add lunch or dinner. Dress up and join the Steampunk Xmas fundraiser for the Cowtown Musuem. Or make a stop at the Museum of World Treasures.

Did I miss an Old Town where you live? Add it in the comments. And be sure to let us know when you do date night in your nearest Old Town.

December 11, 2012

Own Your Own Needs

CJ, half of the husband-wife team who write The Great Jolly Hoombah blog, hit me with an intriguing comment recently.

He said the idea of owning your own needs in a marriage is "counter-intuitive." He wrote, "Owning our own needs in a culture so thoroughly enabled to do the very opposite is a tall order."

And so it is. But if you're not entirely enjoying your relationship with your mate, you might want to read my reply to CJ, which appears as a guest post today on Tammy and CJ's great blog.

While you're visiting their blog, be sure you check out:

I admire what they did to put their marriage and health ahead of everything else in life. And I love the way they write.

Here, by the way, is the Assume Love post that led to CJ's comment: Ask for What You Want from Your Spouse. And my reply is here.

December 4, 2012

In Case of Emergency

What would you miss most about your partner in life if he or she were in a coma? Her income? His cooking? The gentle touch of a hand on your cheek? The "I love you" every morning? The orgasms? The wise advice when you don't know what to do? The playfulness when you take yourself too seriously?

If you were keeping a journal in hope of someday soon sharing your thoughts during this awful time, what would you write in it?

If you were standing by your mate's bedside today, speaking gently and hoping to stir a recovery, what would you say?

Why are you waiting for a coma to reveal these most precious and intimate thoughts?

The Author

Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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