When I was at the lowest point in my marriage–feeling completely dejected and lonely because my husband was not affectionate–I kept reading advice from experts who insisted that the solution was to say, “I have a serious concern about your lack of affection.”
The underlying premise of this advice is that my husband just did not know that I liked affection.
Or maybe he didn’t realize that he did not show affection. He just somehow…forgot.
But telling him to be more affectionate never works, as I’m sure you already know from trying it yourself.
If anything, that drove my husband farther away.
Sometimes he’d leave tire marks in the driveway.
It wasn’t until I learned the 4 simple concepts below that I stopped feeling the urge to ask why my husband wouldn’t show affection.
That’s because the smooching, the pats on the butt, and the fireworks in the bedroom came back.
Here’s the cure for a non-affectionate man:
1. Stop Talking about It
Periodically reminding my husband that he was not affectionate was the surefire way to make him show affection. Everybody said so.
So I did that. Repeatedly. But whether I begged, cajoled, demanded or made friendly suggestions, it never worked.
Oh sure, there were times when he obediently hugged and kissed me, but that didn’t scratch my itch.
If anything, it made my pain and dejection more acute. Because the truth is, getting him to hug and kiss me wasn’t what I wanted; I wanted him to WANT to hug and kiss me.
I wanted to feel desired, just like the old days when he was always smooching me or patting my butt.
Since I had to order him to be affectionate, it was evident that he didn’t want to.
And that hurt. A lot.
Begging for kisses and hugs feels lousy–even if he complies.
Not only did I feel needy and undignified doing it, it only pushed him further away.
So step one for me was to stop listening to that terrible advice (which, to this day, makes me want to punch someone in the nose).
Instead, consider that he may not be feeling loved either, even if you are being affectionate with him.
Fortunately, rather than telling him what he should do, you can naturally restore the petting and flirting by being your best self again.
2. Employ the World’s Best Aphrodisiac for Men
What’s that? You didn’t know there was an aphrodisiac for men? And that it’s super effective, works fast, and is free?
Me, neither–for years. No one ever told me. Maybe no one has ever mentioned it to you either.
When someone finally did tell me, I had no idea what they were talking about.
I’ll spell it out (while you imagine Aretha singing it): R-E-S-P-E-C-T.
Here’s the thing: if you’re anything like I was, you have no idea what that looks like. I thought I WAS being respectful even though I was disrespectful at least 27 times a day.
Hopefully you’re not as bad as I was ’cause there was a lot of eye-rolling, sighing, complaining about what he did and questioning his judgment going on around here. Like, tons. Not to mention constructive criticism, interrogation, accusation, and downright rude comments.
I thought of it as “being helpful,” or doing what the experts suggested by “expressing a concern.”
All of it seemed justified to me–and all of it ruined my chances that he was ever going to come in for a passionate kiss.
I had no idea that was why my husband didn’t show affection for me. But when I look at these pictures now, it seems pretty obvious:
Okay, so those aren’t me, but they are reasonable facsimiles of how I appear when I’m disrespectful versus respectful.
You know how you want him to see you as irresistible, beautiful and lovable? He wants you to see him as smart, capable and strong in the same way.
If you don’t, he won’t be affectionate.
When you start acting like he is smart, capable and strong (even if you don’t think so), that will go a long way toward bringing back the makeout sessions, snuggling and sex you’re craving.
3. Bring Back Emotional Safety
What is emotional safety?
It’s when you admit that you just threw a handful of M&Ms into the living room for your kids to find so you could talk on the phone without interruption for a few minutes, and your friend doesn’t judge you but says, “Wow, great idea!”
It’s when your husband tells you that he just lost a grip of money because the stocks he bought went down. Way down. And you say, “Oh well, it’s only money,” instead of telling him he should have checked with you first.
It’s knowing you won’t be ridiculed, humiliated, outcast, or criticized even when you sing a Katy Perry song that’s way out of your range.
It’s what you had early in your relationship, when he was affectionate and you felt desired and you admired him so much for who he was.
Familiarity really does breed contempt sometimes, but it doesn’t have to. You could decide to be as admiring now as you were back then.
Start by letting him talk and just listening by saying “Uh-huh” or “Mmmm.”
Letting him talk without correcting, suggesting, teaching, advising or freaking out is a very good start to restoring your magnetism.
4. Be the Goddess of Fun and Light
Remember that time you went camping and you and your friend couldn’t stop laughing for an hour?
Or the other day when you were doing your Zumba moves in the kitchen?
What about when you put cereal boxes and fake blood on your shirt for Halloween and called yourself a cereal killer?
Those are just a few examples of being the real you—the Goddess of Fun and Light (GOFL).
You are at your best when you’re the manifestation of Cyndi Lauper’s astute anthem “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun.”
Yes, I am calling you a girl even though you’re well over 12 because every woman has an inner just-wanna-have-fun girl, and if you haven’t honored her in a while, it could be time to find your hula hoop, your lip gloss and some tunes that make you shimmy and twirl.
The GOFL is always looking for a good time and is open to that taking priority over doing the laundry.
She brings a sense of fun to every situation, even when it all goes wrong and the entire bag of Cheetos is dumped onto the white couch or she accidentally squirts herself with the hose or her husband walks on the freshly mopped floor with muddy boots.
The GOFL sees mishaps as punch lines in the slapstick comedy of life.
Granted, it’s not always easy when the kids are sick, you worked a 12-hour day, and the mortgage is late.
But if you can’t remember what you like to do and let yourself do it, you’re not showing much affection for yourself.
Fretting is not going to make your husband more affectionate. But dancing the Macarena at the grocery store? It definitely could.
After all, you were all smiles and laughter when he first put the moves on you.
And he will again when you start giving yourself what you really want: fun.