Q: My father was a no-nonsense man who did not share his feelings. He taught me to be tough, to work hard and make my way in life. My wife is upset because I treat my son the same way. Should fathers show affection towards their sons?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: We understand that your upbringing lacked a paternal connection, which undoubtedly influenced your character. While it may have toughened you, it also left an emotional void.

You should reassess not only your relationship with your son but also your feelings and needs. Are you certain that deep down you are harbouring feelings of hurt or resentment towards your father for his emotional detachment? Is it possible that you are inadvertently projecting these feelings onto your son by replicating your father’s behaviour?

Meanwhile, remember that your son will face adversities in life. Your role as a father is to stand by his side, offering support and guidance. Instead of adding to his burdens, strive to be his ally – offering encouragement, solace, inspiration and companionship.

Love and compassion are the foundations of fatherhood. Many men underestimate the profound need their sons have for affection, approval and verbal affirmation. Boys also benefit greatly from appropriate physical affection from their fathers.

It is common for fathers to unintentionally impose their interests and expectations onto their sons, hoping they will mirror their own lives. Resist this temptation.

Instead, empower your son to embrace his unique talents and passions, guiding him towards becoming himself. In doing so, you and your son will find fulfilment and success.

Q: After years of being single, I looked forward to marriage as I thought it would bring me happiness. Isn’t that the essence of marriage? Yet, why is it not fulfilling? Why am I not happy being married?

Focus on the Family Malaysia: “... and they lived happily ever after” – is the quintessential ending to fairy tales and the aspiration of every couple exchanging vows. However, pinning happiness as the sole objective of marriage is unrealistic.

Happiness, by its nature, is transient. It fluctuates with the ebb and flow of life’s circumstances. When things go well, we are elated, when challenges arise, happiness can elude us.

It is a fact that our spouses cannot be our constant source of happiness. Despite their best efforts, there will inevitably be moments of disappointment over the course of a lifetime together.

There is also a deeper issue to consider: prioritising personal happiness above all else in marriage suggests a self-centred approach, focused solely on what one can gain from the relationship. Such self-gratification can destroy a relationship.

This does not mean that individual happiness is not important but it should not be your primary goal. True happiness comes from a deep commitment and willingness to place your spouse’s well-being above your own.

To truly serve your spouse, you need to find a balance between meeting your needs and hers. Engage in activities that rejuvenate and fulfil you while also nurturing your relationship. When spouses selflessly devote themselves to each other’s happiness, they lay the groundwork for a fulfilling life together.

The article was contributed by Focus on the Family Malaysia, a non-profit organisation dedicated to supporting and strengthening the family unit. It provides a myriad of programmes and resources to the community, including professional counselling services. For more information, visit family.org.my. Comments: letters@thesundaily.com

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