One of the more common comments that I get on my blog has to do with one spouse (usually the husband) no longer being affectionate to the other. I often hear marriages described as one that “lacks affection” or is devoid of physical contact that would indicate an affectionate relationship. Many times, the spouse who isn’t being affectionate enough will deny that anything is wrong. They’ll often offer up excuses like “how can you expect for couples to be married for as long as we have to still be all over each other?” Or “you know that I love you. I’m married to you. I’m not going anywhere. How many displays of affection does a person really need?”
This can make the spouse who is wanting more feel as though they are overreaching or are asking too much. The thing is, how affectionate spouses are within a marriage can often affect the overall health of that same marriage, particularly when one person is dissatisfied with these levels. It’s my opinion that this is not something that you should ignore or just blindly hope will get better.
In the following article, I’ll discuss some of the reasons that a marriage can lack affection and what you can do about it.
Things That Can Make Marriages Lose Or Lack Affection: First, let’s discuss why your marriage may have transformed to or become one that isn’t as filled with or demonstrative of affection as you might like. Sometimes, people admit to me that their spouse has never been one to show much love and affection, but this is somewhat rare. More often, I hear spouses say that their husband or wife was all over them in the beginning of the relationship, but almost seems to look right through them now. What they can’t figure out is what has changed.
Unfortunately, they will often assume that their spouse no longer finds them attractive or doesn’t love them anymore. As a result, they retreat or shut down. No one wants to be the only one in the marriage who is really trying or who is really interested. So, it’s normal to back off to lessen your vulnerability. The problem though is that this will often only make the problem worse. And this will only intensify the doubts and mean that you get even less of what you want.
Frankly, I find that the problem isn’t usually that the reluctant or non affectionate spouse isn’t in love with or attracted to the other. Often, what is happening is that the circumstances within that couple’s life has changed. There may well be children now, stressful jobs, tight finances, or other things which might mean that it’s difficult to be as present and as demonstrative as you might mean to be.
People become complacent, make assumptions, and drop the ball. They assume that their spouse “knows” that they love him or her and shouldn’t constantly need assurances. The problem with this is that most people do need these assurances, whether they know it or not. And the health of your marriage can become affected by this over time.
The thing is, displays of affection are often directly related to how connected and intimate you feel toward your spouse. When you’re connecting on both a physical and emotional level, you will just naturally want to display this in a physical and affectionate way. This is usually true no matter how busy or distracted you are. You likely had at least some obligations when you first fell in love, but you were able to work around them because you placed the relationship as one of your highest priorities, at least partially due to the pay off that it provided.
In this way, it was a very positive cycle. All cylinders were firing so you were motivated to keep putting forth the time and effort, which then produced more displays of affection which continued to provide the pay off to keep the cycle going. When this cycle stops, it’s often due to a change in obligations or time allotments, or due to the fact that the couple is losing at least some connection and intimacy.
How To Return Your Marriage To One That Has Healthy Levels Of Affection That Make You Both Happy: The last thing that you want to do is to nag your spouse about being more affectionate. You really do want for this to be a spontaneous thing that they want to do on their own. You basically want to inspire them to want to act in a certain way and then to praise them when they do so that the cycle of pay off and commitment drastically changes.
One way to motivate your spouse to show you more affection is to begin giving them exactly what you yourself wants. This may seem backward, but it truly isn’t. You want to model positive rather than negative behavior. If you want more kissing, hugging, hand holding, chivalry, etc., start out by showing your spouse some of this and then praising your spouse when they return the favor.
If they are resistant to this or if this doesn’t work, you have to ask yourself if the connection or intimacy has been lost or at least very negatively affected. If so, you may not see the affection that you are wanting until you are able to repair the marriage and /or your connection. This doesn’t necessarily mean a marital overhaul. But typically, if you can pinpoint some of the most persuasive problems and then fix them without focusing on the negative, you will generally see some marked improvement that will make you both happier.
When my husband began withdrawing affection, I did not pay close enough attention and it almost cost me my marriage. I did not understand these principles and I went about changing this in completely the wrong way. I stooped to negative behavior that only drove my husband further away. Thankfully, I soon realized my mistake and decided to approach things from another angle and this eventually worked very well. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com/.