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how to cope with a dh that won't/can't show affection, feeling very sad

(30 Posts)
LadyMontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 09:56:53

Married to dH for 7 years, 2 dcs. We are happy and he is my best friend but he is very unemotional. He never randomly kisses me or tells me he loves me, he is pretty much silent during sex although he does enjoy it(he might say 'that's nice' or somthing. He kisses me on leaving the house, before we go to sleep etc, the routine pecks and says 'love you' after sex (though sometimes after a nudge). He has never told me I'm beautiful to him or really said how much I mean to him (if I do mean lots even). If I say 'do I look nice' he might say 'you look fine' or 'very smart' or even 'sexy' but never unprompted. He does however make lots of sex jokes, not very crude, just 'oo-er' kind of ones. He often particulalry mentions bjs (which I don't really like). Every so often I get down about the lack of affection, and it seems to particularly make me sad after sex, I guess becuase thats the time I'm really longing to hear him say something loving. I've told him numerous times how sad it makes me and has made no effort to be more affectionate.
Anyway last night we were having some foreplay and I said (stupidly) 'say something nice to me' 'love you' he replied in a sing-song voice. I said I loved him to and then (stupidly again) said say something else, (fishing for compliments I know) and he said 'like what?' and I just suddenly felt so sad I couldn't stop crying, I compltetely spoilt the moment (we had been having fun). Discussion followed, me trying to explain that I really need some affectionate words sometimes and him saying ' but I said I loved you' 'of course I think your beatiful' and me saying 'please will you try' and him saying he would or he'd never he the end of it, so I'm still crying now.
His parents are v unemotional - no hugs as a child etc. But i just find it really hard to live without affection. I have changed lots since we married - moved to new area, had children, adapted to life as a sahm, become much better cook / housekeeper, tried hard to overcome shyness re bjs and I'm busy and generally happy apart from this one area. He has barely changed at all, does same job & hobbies but with addition of me and DCs.
Sorry that is so long but any advice would be welcome.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:04:13

confused what is the relevance of becoming a better cook and trying to give bjs?

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 10:08:36

the relevance is that I have tried hard to be 'a good wife' - he likes food and bj's!

DragonMamma Mon 08-Oct-12 10:08:55

Has he always been this way? It can't be a very nice way to live however, if he's always been this way then I struggle to understand why you would marry somebody when such an important issue (to you) was missing.

There was recently a thread on here where people were discussing how often they were told 'I love you' by their Dp's and lots just aren't demonstrative.

Other than talking to him and reiterating your need to hear how he feels I can't see how you can change a lifelong habit, if it is one?

I don't envy you, my DH is much more affectionate than I am and he recently pulled me up on it and said he was feeling a bit un-desired so I have made an effort to act on my thoughts more often but the feelings and thoughts have to be there to start with.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:10:03

All the other issues with affection, I'm not sure what else you can do, you have tried hard to get him to understand how you feel and he still doesn't. His "I'll never hear the end of it" comment shows he doesn't think it is important to consider something that to you is fundamentally important.

So, if you stay you stay with the expectation that he'll never be different.

I was interested in this thread because my husband was a closed person to start, he is now affectionate in telling me he loves, cares for and fancies me and he does kiss and cuddle me and his aspects of closedness were lack of confidence. He is opening up after he hurt me with his closedness and it really made him upset and since then he's been really making a big effort to open up very successfully.

I think it is a bad sign if your husband had seen how bad it makes you feel and this doesn't make it important to him.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:13:22

I suspected it might be "good wife" sad that is stuff that some men believe when they see their wife only in terms of what she can provide. I think in that context perhaps the lack of affection is the tip of the iceberg.

What do you get out of the relationship?

A person that seeks sexual behaviour from his/her partner in the knowledge they don't enjoy it and don't want to do it isn't right either. How could you enjoy something knowing the person doing it didn't want to just felt they had to?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 10:14:02

Has he always been this undemonstrative or is it something that has only happened since getting married? I'm also worried that you think you have to be some kind of 'perfect wife'.

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 10:17:07

Thanks all - I'm not going to leave him. Most of the time I'm perfectly happy, this issue just pops up about once a year. I think he's unlikely to change but I just need seem advice on how to deal with it without causing a row. This is probably not a very 'modern' approach but it's what I want. The most hurtful thing, you are right, is that he doesn't seem to believe that it matters to me.

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 10:18:53

I don't think I have to be a perfect wife but I do think we should try our best at things in all areas of life. I think he has always been like this.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:26:47

It isn't about being a "modern wife" but about having your needs as a person considered by your spouse.

I think anyone who starts from a base line of "I'm not going to leave" is putting themselves in an extremely vulnerable position.

I do believe the extreme reaction - the crying, you had to that little refusal of his is symptomatic of you trying to cover up the problem.

Unfortunately someone who knows how upset something makes you and still doesn't see it as important despite it being a recurring theme in the relationship is very unlikely to change.

If you are going to stay then I think you need to be prepared to live with the life you have now and expect that it may get worse rather than better as I'm always concerned by any spouse who is so unempathetic and unaffected by the person they profess to love's visible pain.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 10:28:08

If you marry an undemonstrative man, you kind of sign up for 'what is says on the tin' unfortunately. My current boyfriend is not brilliant at 'mush' but he compensates by being very physically affectionate and thoughtful. Having said that, he's brilliant at texting. Finds it far easier to be romantic in text form than face to face. Maybe you could try that?

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:28:16

I'm not sure that he thinks it doesn't matter to you, it seems he thinks what matters to you is unimportant or inconvenient to him "I'll never hear the end of it"...

maleview70 Mon 08-Oct-12 10:48:44

Asking for compliments during sex is a bit much isn't it?

Some people struggle with this due to childhoods etc and trying to get him to make wholesale changes will be difficult.

Would there not be an element of "he is only saying that because I asked him to anyway?"

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 10:54:21

male - I know and hate doing it. It's just it's a time when I'm really yearning for some 'romantic words' and I find it difficult to relax without that bit of reassurance first. I end up crying afterwards anyway if I don't sad

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 10:57:08

I think basically there's a tiny bit of me that thinks I'm going to be ditched after sex (previous bf did this) so not having any 'words of love' really upsets me.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:57:35

You cry after if you don't ask?! sad

Why on earth do you think this is ok? sad

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 10:58:37

What does your husband think about you crying after sex?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 11:03:29

Doesn't that go beyond reassurance and point to a more fundamental insecurity? If you've been with someone 7years+, have 2 kids, knowing they're not very demonstrative, do you actually need to hear words to the effect of 'I am not going to leave you' after sex to be confident it won't happen?

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 11:04:05

Offred - obviuosly I don't think it's okay - that's why I'm here, crying. Partly it is my insecurities, partly his emotional closedness - most of the time it's fine but sometimes not; if he does his unemotianal thing when I'm feeling crappy (at the moment because I'm v tired and have had a cold for 2 weeks) then it gets to me.

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 11:07:15

What does he do when you're feeling crappy? Leaving the missing 'I love you's out of the picture, does he try to make you feel better? Is he thoughtful? Does he fetch you Lemsips etc?

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 11:09:03

Yes he is / does cog. Most of the time I'm perfectly happy but just occasionaly I just long for some 'romance'.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 11:14:34

You seem to have very low self esteem and it may be that your need for reassurance comes from this but is also worsened when you don't get reassured.

That said, what you describe is that you are not getting any affection: no verbal, physical or emotional affection at all. This is not an unreasonable expectation to have but if he isn't this type of person, isn't willing to be and you need a partner to be you are fundamentally incompatible.

Also, you said that when you were upset his reaction was that he is going to try and do something about it otherwise he'll "never here the end of it" not that he's upset that you feel unloved and this is something that is important to him as your husband.

It is also concerning that you are performing sex acts you don't want to and crying after sex. Also the thought that this may have become a regular part of your sex life. I'd be extremely shocked and upset if my husband cried after sex and I'd be really concerned about why that was.

I'm not sure what's going on here whether he is just unempathetic and self concerned and you have very low self worth or if he is causing or further contributing to your very low self worth by treating you in some really unacceptable ways for his own gain.

You have said that you are trying to be a good wife and have linked two things to that that are indicative of possible misogynistic (rather than traditional) roles; good cooking and bjs. Where is this view of a "good wife" coming from - you or him or both?

CogitoErgoSometimes Mon 08-Oct-12 11:15:28

For some people, the way they show affection is through the practical stuff rather than 'romance' or gifts. If you need romance, therefore, and you've chosen one of these people as a life partner you will always have to prompt - they are unlikely to ever do it spontaneously. If you see prompting as somehow making the gesture less sincere then you will always be disappointed.

Offred Mon 08-Oct-12 11:15:54

*hear!

missmontdore Mon 08-Oct-12 11:19:12

Offred - it's not as bad as you are thinking. I do get some affection, like I said the 'routine' kisses, and I'm affectionate so if I offer a hug he'll hug back, snuggle on sofa. It's just never spontaneous on his part. Also I don't do things I don't like - I can only do them when I'm feeling really secure so bjs just don't happen very often.

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