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No affection in my marriage(18 Posts)
We have been together for 20 years. For several years we were very affectionate - hugging, holding hands, etc. For the past few years we have become less and less affectionate. Now if he shows any affection, it's so rare that it startles me when he touches me at all.
I have tried talking to him a few times over the past few years. He always gets very defensive, has an excuse likehe's stressed because of his job, or life is really busy, or he's tired. He changes the subject as quickly as he can. He has never wanted to discuss anything meaningful/our relationship and has never brought anything meaningful up himself. He will only talk to me about superficial things, like jobs that are needed on the house, his day at work, should we go out for dinner, etc.
For a long while now I've thought, well if he won't make an effort with me, I won't bother either. So I show him no affection either. This has gone on for so long that any kind of touching now feels weird. I can't help but feel that if you are in love with someone, you would naturally be affectionate. And I'm talking about simple things like hugging, a little caress on the arm, a squeeze of my hand. I've started to feel strongly thatthis lack of affection is a definite red flag that he isn't in love with me anymore. But when I've talked with him about it, he was very offended that I would imply that he doesn't love me.He insists he loves me and he can't imagine life without me.
I have a friend who told me that she believes that people express love differently, which is certainly true, and that some people can love someone deeply, but not ever express affection. I don't know, I find that really hard to believe. I realise that I can just keep asking him again from time to time to at least try to express some affection.But what I keep thinking is that he doesn't show affection because he's not really in love with me, andI can't make someone love me.I feel like I'm forcing him to act in a way that he doesn't really feel. Any affection he does show me, it's forced, it's not real. And that makes me feel crap and resentful. Shouldn't he want to show me affection anyway, without me making him? My pride stops me from asking again. He doesn't fancy me in the slightest. I can just tell. He would deny this, but only to save my feelings. So now I'm the same with him. Even giving him a quick kiss goodbye feels forced, like we're going through the motions of pretending to be a normal married couple.
I feel very sad. I'm middle aged. I don't want to split up, sell our home, start again. But sometimes I really don't like my husband. I think this is because, like every human, he has faults, but whereas before, when we were properly in love, I could see them for what they were: just little faults that are part and parcel of being human. Now they've manifested into reasons to dislike him, e.g. why am I putting up with this crap when he doesn't even show any affection towards me? But mostly I do like him. By that, I mean I like his companionship - telling him about my day, him telling me about his. I like going out with him. I like going on holidays with him. He sends me a text every day saying he loves me and to ask how my day is. I would miss him a huge amount if we split up. I think he'd miss me too.
The thing is, things aren't terrible. He hasn't cheated on me, he's not financially abusive or anything. He's a nice man, I like his company. We have a nice life - we like our home, we like our jobs, we like going on nice holidays together. We like each other. We find each other funny. We're healthy. Our children have left home and are nice well-rounded adults. I swing wildly between being thankful for what I have and wanting to end things with him. I would really like to hear what other people's opinions are about this.
Gosh. Sounds like a really hard situation. Often lack of affection is just one of a long list of negatives in a relationship, but yours certainly sounds like it has a lot of positives in the other column.
At the end of the day, though, you have to ask yourself how you want to spend the next 20, 30, 40 years. It sounds like maybe this isn't it, for you.
Instead of tit for tat, could you maybe give yourself a time period of maybe a week when you really make an effort with him, touch, cuddle, kiss, snuggle be as affectionate as you'd like him to be with you. Sometimes I think we just get out of the habit. It's hard I know but think of it as a little test.
Perhaps he feels as weird as you do about it now.
Also although it's not touching I think the daily text is very affectionate.
There's a book called ' five love languages' you may find useful.
What don't you arrange a romantic weekend getaway... buy some new lingerie and try to connect on an emotional level again.
If he was never very affectionate it will require a bit of effort .... but don't give up. You may have to initially do 5 things before he does one ... but keep at it and you'll hopefully see a change.
Try organising a couples massage... theatre trips...that can give you something to talk about afterwards.
Nothing to add, just coming in to say that I'm in the same situation with my partner - he shows affection by mowing the lawn or pumping the tyres on my car, but I want a hug or a cuddle now and again! Otherwise he might as well be my brother! (who doesn't mow my lawn or pump up my tyres,, but you know what I mean). I HATE intiating touching EVERY SINGLE TIME, only to feel like I'm caressing a corpse because he doesn't reciprocate...
Sorry Sadie. Offering sympathy.
he may not be "in love" with you but probably does "love" you. Like many couples after this amount of time.
Do you have sex still or has that stopped too?
Thank you for all your replies. Yes I suppose it does require, and deserve, more effort. But I'm feeling really rather resentful that's it's me who puts in the effort for couple things - arranging nice days out, holidays, and so on. I'm not feeling very willing to do it anymore! I think he would just coast along like this for the rest of our lives, not making any effort, leaving things as they are, hoping I'll never bring up anything remotely about relationships, affection or intimacy again.
No, we don't have sex anymore. Well, we do but only on holiday. So that's twice a year. When we're at home - never. I'm not that bothered about this to be honest. But I desperately miss hand holding, spontaneous hugs, kissing. I even found myself feeling envious of Rhona in Emmerdale last night when Pierce stroked her face and kissed her. For Goodness' sake. But regardless, it doesn't feel right with my husband anymore anyway. Hand holding, kissing, etc. with him is all fake and forced. It's not genuine affection.
"he shows affection by mowing the lawn or pumping the tyres on my car, but I want a hug or a cuddle now and again! Otherwise he might as well be my brother"
Yes, exactly this. You've hit the nail on the head.
Since I read all your replies, I've gone from thinking, 'Yes they're right, I will arrange a nice weekend away and I'll make an effort to hold his hand etc' to 'Sod that, let him make the effort for once'.
I think you need to tell him outright how you feel and if possible also without rancour or blaming him completely for how you feel now.
A loveless marriage is not the norm nor a marriage I would want to be in.
He gets what he wants out of this relationship (you clearly do not) and perhaps sees you as simply someone to look after him. Maybe you have simply grown apart or you have grown in more ways emotionally than he actually has.
There is certainly a disconnect between you two. He is not a nice man OP because he is not being honest with you at all, does not want to talk and has not really talked so for some considerable time either. When did all this really start, is there a specific time you can recall?. He is acting like this for a reason/s and he needs to start talking to you properly why he is acting as he is. I do think he will have great difficulty in actually talking given his defensiveness and overall unwillingness to talk about any emotional issues.
Will he be at all willing to go to Relate or even try to see if there is a physical problem of some sort. If he does not want to attend any sessions then I would go on my own. You need to be able to talk in a calm and safe environment, also family and friends can be overinvested.
Have your now adult children commented at all on their dad's apparent lack of interest in you?.
I'm there myself at the moment too with my wife, that is she doesn't show affection.
At the start of the year we hit rock bottom things improved a bit and then slipped again but once more I have put it clearly out there (and rather bluntly) and said that if showing some affection, and by that I don't just mean not pushing me away when I give her a hug, is such an effort then would she just rather I just left?
I have pointed out that we both have problems which cause difficulties to our relationship, for me its that I get bad moods, particularly when I feel rejected and unloved, which makes it a vicious circle but I've worked hard to control them and for the most part I succeed.
However while she has admitted several times over the years that she has a problem with showing affection I pointed out last week that she has done nothing to address that problem and try to change, simply accepting that you have a problem isn't sufficient if there is no attempt to do something about it. The point seemed to hit home and since then she really has made much more of an effort, nothing bonkers but giving me a kiss or a hug, every so often. The change for both of us needs to be a conscious one and probably to become habitual, we simply need to improve who we are and how we act.
There are probably more downs to come but this week we are on the up and I think that with time and effort we can get there and more importantly set a good example of how a loving couple should be to our children.
Atilla, thank you, what a very thought provoking post.
Actually he can be rather childish at times, turns things back on me. A favourite is:
'Why have you brought this up now?' (in an irritable tone)
When he's not bring irritable, he'll make a brief show of discussing it, but will say things like:
'Well let's make more of an effort then' (swiftly closing the conversation)
'Let's think about it and talk again later' (never to be brought up again)
Our children haven't mentioned anything. He isn't not interested in me. He's really supportive, we're jokey together, and so on, so we probably don't look like there are any problems to anyone else. I'm not sure anyone would notice that we don't kiss, hug, etc in front of them, because we otherwise get on well, if you see what I mean.
I'm not sure about Relate. I'd be willing, but he would be shocked to the core that I felt things were bad enough to need counseling.
He may well need to be shocked the core in order to recognise there is a problem.
Yes you're probably right, maybe that is what it needs. Thank you for sharing your experience. I hope things work out for you and your wife.
Are you sure he isn't cheating? Sounds to me like he could well be but wanting to keep everything as it is. Cake and eat and respectable front etc. Hard to believe sex twice a year.
Maybe that's why he shuts you down.
Yes, I'm sure he's not having an affair.
I agree with Attila. I think that talking within a relationship is such a basic requirement, was he always this avoidant?
He will only talk to me about superficial things, like jobs that are needed on the house, his day at work, should we go out for dinner, etc
He is emotionally closed off. I would feel lonely in a situation such as this. Of course affection is awkward, there is no context for intimacy. It sounds friendly and comfortable, but no real depth in the relationship.
He is also resistance to accommodating your needs...
Well if you get to middle age after a long marriage and you get a daily text saying he loves you I think you are doing well.
You say you like each other's company and laugh together and enjoy holidays. I think you have a wonderful thing.
I was married for six years and didn't achieve any of that.
Having said that, of course affection is important and it sounds like you have got out of the habit. Are you more affectionate when you are away on holiday together? I think you could probably get the affection back based on what you say, maybe with some counselling if he is up for that or maybe with you just taking the initiative more even if it feels forced.
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