I can still see her smile the first time we met. It wasn’t a suggestive smile. It was a kind smile as she blew me off. But it was still a smile I remembered.
I can still see her smile the second time we met. There wasn’t a boyfriend this time so knowingly or unknowingly she allowed the smile to linger.
There are probably more than a hundred snap shots of Jenny which are saved in my memory and in nearly everyone she is smiling. (See: When Your Marriage Feels Stuck)
Nearly every relationship begins with a smile. For most, it’s a good amount of time before we allow someone we are interested in to see us not smile. It communicates a pleasant, openness which is kind and sociable. Even on our worst day, most of us will fake a smile when we meet someone. Smiling communicates that we are harmless. It’s an announcement of safety.
Relationships cannot continue in an endless smile. It would be fake. True intimacy is seen through all of life–the smiles, tears, and frustrations. As intimacy is increased we allow the one we love to see us in every aspect of life.
But if we aren’t careful, as the stresses of life increase and the pressure of raising children, having a career, and maintaining a home are experienced, the smiles can become less frequent.
For many, smiling in marriage is the exception and not the rule. The basic expression which began the relationship is a rare site in the midst of the relationship.
That shouldn’t be. Wives should regularly smile at their husbands. There’s power in this act. It communicates a safe connection between the two. It shows playfulness. It invites her husband to connect in spite of what circumstances might be happening around them. (See: 4 Things Wives Need to See)
Both spouses should regularly smile at one another. But I do not know if it is equally important for men and women. A smile means something different to men than women.
When a wife smiles at her husband it communicates:
Recognition. Most wives have a thousand responsibilities and can get so wrapped in their tasks that their husbands feel unseen. A smile requires effort. Our faces don’t naturally rest in a smile. Smiling at someone is an intentional act which requires us to break from what we are doing and focus on them. Smiling says I see you over all the things I have to do.
Invitation. Smiling connects two people. As a growl from a dog communicates another dog should back off, a smile for a person communicates openness for the other person to approach. It’s an invitation to draw near. A smile announces our defenses are down, it’s safe for you to approach.
Why don’t women smile more?
In part, because we all smile less as we get older. Life is difficult. We face many challenges. As we let our guard down with one another and as we grow older, we are less likely to smile. It’s a tendency we need to change, especially with our spouses.
Some women smile less because men tend to connect smiling and sex. Most wives say, “Yeah, he shouldn’t do that.” Most men say, “Yeah, we do that.” And the truth is, men can’t help but connect the two. If a smile communicates an open, safe, playfulness then to a man a smile communicates sex. Some women begin to smile less because they want to turn their husbands off. It may not be a conscious decision, but they learn to look less happy so they don’t have to add one more chore to the to-do list. It’s a habit that needs to be changed. Men need to learn that not every smile is an invitation for sex and wives need to accept that your husband being attracted to your smile is a compliment.
Whatever the case, women need to smile more. It’s a powerful act in the concept of marriage. It’s one of the easiest ways to connect with your husband. And while it doesn’t always work, the most common response to a smile is a smile.
Question for women: What’s one thing you think men should do more often?