Mary, 41, and Shawn, 36
She wants: Words of Affirmation
He gives: Acts of Service
"What can I do to help you today?" is the first thing Mary hears her husband say when she wakes each morning. His acts of service include building her a garden—one of her favorite hobbies. "And he's a horrible handyman," she laughs.
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But Mary really craves verbal affirmation. "When I'm feeling even the slightest bit taken for granted, I wish he'd say 'I love you.' Just today I said, 'Honey, I need you to tell me I'm beautiful,' so he did. But sometimes he gets annoyed and asks, 'How many times do I have to tell you?'"
"He grew up in a family that doesn't express emotions freely," she says. "It's not surprising that his one attempt at a love letter read like a business plan. It's just not who he is—but I'll never stop hoping that he'll write me a sonnet."
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Dr. Chapman Says:
Shawn should start with baby steps to express his love. He can try saying something sweet about her to a friend or coworker, or it could also be helpful to buy a greeting card, underline the words that are particularly appropriate, and then read them to his wife. Ultimately, Shawn should aim to compliment Mary at least once a day for a month to create a lasting pattern.