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Why some people cannot express love to their spouses

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Charles Ighele

It was when my mother died in the early nineties at the age of sixty that I knew how much my father loved her. While we were preparing for her burial, my father entered her room, called her name and left very sad. Like I have had cause to tell people, I never saw them hug each other any day not to talk of kissing each other. I never heard my father openly say words of love to my mother any day; though she gave birth to eleven of us (a football team). He was a kind man who worked so hard to provide for my mother and the whole family. But there was something missing-the ability to express love to his wife. It is in this traditional marriage atmosphere that I grew up.

Sometime ago, a young man said, “I love my wife, but I do not just know how to express love. I was not brought up like that.” Some people have been heard to say, “I am a typical Yoruba man. I’m not an English man, so I cannot show love.” Some say I am a typical Igbo man. You don’t expect me to be holding my wife’s hands and walking along the street hand-in-hand. I provide for her and that is enough.”

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Aside being under the power of tradition, I have also discovered that another important reason why some men or women cannot tell their spouses, “I love you” or hold hands and walk side by side in public is due to shyness. From the environmental scanning I have done, I have discovered that some men (apart from being traditional) are very shy, when it comes to expressing love to their wives or children. I also found out that some women are very shy at receiving love from their more romantic husbands, even if the husband is good at giving out love. They will laugh off the man’s gift of love in a shy manner, and this discourages such men from being good at pouring out words of love.

Looking at myself, I discovered much later in life that a major reason I could not express love to my wife, Carol, during the first week of our marriage was that I was very shy at doing so. After freeing myself from the power of ethnic and family culture, where romantic words and love were not the order of the day, I saw that I needed to further free myself from culture’s younger cousin, which is shyness. The more I deliberately showed love and affection to my wife in private and in public, the more the power of culture and shyness loosened its grip over my ability to express feelings of love to a wife who God has commanded me to love. “Husbands love your wives…” (Ephesians 5: 25). The more I expressed the feelings of love, the better I became at doing so.

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Presently, I have not gotten to the height I should, as far as the love walk and love talks are concerned. I keep learning from those better than me. And do you know what? My wife is very good at receiving love and she melts with broad smiles whenever I pour love into her culture-free and shyness-free love tank.

Just as I changed, I know that any man or woman can change, because the ability to love and to express love was put in us by the Holy Spirit at the new birth (Romans 5:5).

So, ladies and gentlemen, remove that shyness. Deliberately learn to pour out love and to receive love. Love you.

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