Love and Affection In Marriage

Let us not become boastful, challenging one another, envying one another.

At Abiding Life Ministries we often speak of a person’s “unique self,” or the uniqueness with which a person is born. We divide that uniqueness into three categories— thinker, feeler, and doer—with each person having a blend of the traits of each. In certain predominate ways, Jesus is the Way for the doer, the Truth for the thinker, and the Life for the feeler, although Jesus appeals to all three and to every blend. Jesus functioned as a thinker when He debated, a doer cleansing the temple, and a feeler found weeping at the tomb of Lazarus. Studying unique self is a study in the obvious, for every mother knows that each and every child has his or her own unique differences and traits.

Often physical affection in marriage is described in terms of male and female characteristics, as when it is said that for women the sexual relationship is emotional and for men it is merely physical. Experience, though, has taught that sex is far more emotional for men than women. When a man is denied, the wife need merely observe the pouting and rejecting behavior that ensues. Sex for the majority of men is equal to acceptance and significance. To respect a husband is to affirm he is wanted and significant, which sex does.

However, the purpose of this article is to look at the different outlooks on sex held by husbands and wives from the perspective of “Unique Self.” In so doing, we will examine several blends of unique self and the difference those might make in what goes on during the physical side of relationships. 

Generally speaking, in every relationship there is one who initiates affection and one who is the receiver. This aspect of initiation and receiving relates directly to being a thinker, feeler, or doer. The Feeler-Thinker (wherein the primary personality trait is feeler and the secondary is thinker) is one who allows affection to be initiated toward him; he is not the initiator. The thinker aspect causes two interesting manifestations where affection is concerned. This person does not want to take a risk; he fears the unknown and will wait for the other to initiate. Also, because a thinker keeps lists, he would like all turmoil of the past to be resolved before someone kisses him. His thoughts go something like this, “Do not kiss me until we talk about why you were so rude to me this morning.” Husbands with this pattern leave their wives feeling as though something must be wrong with them; they must be unattractive or sexually undesirable. The wife also feels something is wrong if she is the one that must initiate. However, if the wife will notice, when the Feeler-Thinker husband does initiate affection, it is rather “clunky” or unnatural. The higher a person is in the thinker area, the less spontaneous he is. However, because the feeler is higher, attempts to touch him will not be rejected, provided there are not a lot of outstanding issues. If two people with this same personality pattern are married, very little affection is initiated. Both have a tendency to stand in the hallway wondering what the other is thinking. 

Sex for the Thinker-Feeler in affection (thinker higher than feeler) is on a take-it-or-leave-it basis. He does not mind being involved and does not mind if he is not. He likes sitting next to his mate on Friday night watching a movie and holding hands, and he does not mind sitting by himself on Saturday night, across the room from his mate, doing his own thing. None of this behavior is intended to be rejecting toward the spouse.

Doer-Feeler (highest in doer) will initiate affection on demand. The thinker is lowest, so he does not have a list of requirements that must first be met; a very nice thing about the doer in affection is that he has forgotten all the offenses from the morning. What matters to the Doer is the goal, not the journey, so it would be helpful for this person to slow down, spend time talking, and have more of a “dating” mindset in the relationship.

Thinker-Doer (highest in Thinker) has high standards he has imposed upon himself and has the tendency to impose those standards on others. Consequently, the list for sexual acceptance becomes so long that neither he nor anyone else can ever meet it. The high Thinker plans so much to do that sex can be seen as an interruption to an otherwise productive day; during affection he can give a misread message of rejection as his mind begins to

wander. For the Thinker, romance is not spontaneous but planned. If married to a Thinker, plan a romantic evening with plenty of advance warning. If you are the Thinker, go to bed without baggage; lay aside the list and unfulfilled expectations, which are valid but are separate issues from the romantic aspect of your life. There is absolutely nothing wrong with being a Thinker in affection.

The Feeler in relationship will have a tendency, when not under the power of the Spirit, to try to milk acceptance from the physical. By creation he is given to the senses, and sex can easily become a way of coping. The Feeler excels in the spontaneity of affection, delighting in coming up from behind and giving a hug. However, more often than not a Feeler marries a Thinker, to whom the surprise overt affection is seen as an interruption; the Feeler will assume this is rejection and reject in return. The Feeler will do well to show love in the “little” things of life that mean so much to the Thinker. Ask what is on the Thinker’s list, help complete the tasks, and the Thinker will feel much more relaxed as more time is freed up for affection. If married to a Feeler, periodically surprise him with a show of affection. (I say periodically, because though the feeler thinks that he craves affection, he is really happier and more suited to showing it. He says he wants the other one to initiate, but he actually enjoys it the most.) A Thinker can learn to allow the Feeler to show his affection.

As in every area of life, we have a tendency to judge another’s behavior from our own shoes and assume everyone thinks, acts, and feels like we do. Therefore, it is easy to attach a motive to a behavior that is more often than not wrongly judged. It is very helpful to understand the unique self of our mate. Always remember that sex is

not an end in itself, but God did create it, and as with all of His creation, it is most enjoyed when He is the primary focus in our lives.

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