Years ago I bought the book, 1001 Ways To Be Romantic. It was helpful for the season—got me to think intentionally and creatively about keeping the romance alive amidst many little kids running around.
But honestly, over the years I haven’t found anything that keeps the romance alive better than simple signs of affection throughout the day. It’s the easiest, most effective, and least expensive way to keep the romantic fires stoked for busy parents.
It’s probably necessary to interject a bit of clarification before I continue. I’m not talking about sexual intimacy. Younger men often get confused at this point. Greater affection will certainly set the stage for greater sexual intimacy—but that’s a bonus, not the main objective.
For those who didn’t get much training in signs of affection, we’re talking about:
- Holding hands
- Gentle kiss on the cheek or forehead
- Arm around shoulders
- Back, hand, head, and foot rubs
I come from a family that easily showed affection. My wife didn’t. But we determined our family would grow up being affectionate and it started with us.
At first, we had to be very intentional about it. Soon, it became a habit—one of the best we’ve established. After 36 years of marriage, we find ourselves holding hands when walking, sitting, or in the car together.
This isn’t just for those whose love language is touch. And it’s the responsibility of both the husband and the wife to initiate. Both receive the benefits whether serving as the initiator or the recipient.
Here are some of the immediate benefits of signs of affection:
- It keeps you connected. Life is very busy for parents with children still at home. Some seasons are busier than others. The necessary division of labor can threaten your sense of togetherness. Daily responsibilities become much lighter knowing another is truly by your side shouldering the load.
It takes so little effort yet can mean so much. Time and money are usually in short supply when raising a family. Roses and a romantic dinner are awesome but are few and far between. A simple hug or kiss in passing takes nothing yet it can provide the emotional lift that’s needed in even the busiest of moments.
It quickly reinforces your support. A simple touch communicates in seconds your ongoing love, admiration, appreciation, encouragement. Just as a picture is worth a thousand words, so an affectionate touch says so much so quickly.
It can serve as subtle code. In a stressful situation or conversation with another, a gentle squeeze while holding hands can discreetly say, “I love you. You can do this. It will be okay.”
Your kids will love it! Parental PDA goes a long way to building security in your kids. At certain ages, they may pretend they don’t like it or even seem repulsed (“Gross!”). Don’t stop. Knowing you love each other means everything—plus you’re giving them an example to emulate when they’re married.
The best things in life happen as a result of small things done consistently over a long time. That means building habits. Kissing each other whenever you arrive and leave home, before going to sleep; holding hands when walking or sitting next to each other; hugging when afraid, worried, troubled; leaving a note or texting at certain times of the day.
Do your marriage a favor and stoke the romantic fires by intentionally building habits of showing simple signs of affection.
Question: What is one PDA habit between you and your spouse that keeps you feeling together? Share your answer in the comments below.