What’s inside: If you’re struggling with how to be more affectionate to your husband, see if these 5 things could be holding you back & learn how to fix them.
I am a very affectionate person. I’m a hugger, even if I barely know you. I tend to touch people on the arm in conversation, probably making it awkward sometimes. But I believe so many people need that human connection, and we keep it to ourselves too much. (Or not enough, in my case?)
So if you were to tell me, in the early years of my marriage, that I would come to a point where I would need to—on purpose—contemplate how to be more affectionate to my husband, I really would have laughed.
Because showing affection is not a problem for me.
But then “motherhood” happened and “work” happened and just plain “busy lives” happened. And before I knew it, there was a habit forming of the day reaching its end and my husband and I hardly connecting.
I didn’t like that one bit. Because, let’s face it, when the kids move out and retirement happens and life slows down, it’s going to be just me and him. And I didn’t want to have to introduce myself to my own spouse in a few years’ time.
So I went to work on changing things up, and I learned so much along the way. And since I know I am not the only woman out there who can relate to this issue, I am laying it all out in case it can help others with their relationship, too.
Here are 5 reasons we are not affectionate to our husbands and how to fix them:
Disclaimer: There honestly could be countless reasons and I know some stem from abuse, hurts, and insecurities. But I am not the right person to address those genuine concerns. I’m just going to address some practical ones that I have struggled with and hopefully be an encouragement.
1. We don’t show affection because we have lost our respect…
I’m starting with this one not because I think it’s the most important, but because I think it is foundational.
My mom taught me at a young age never to criticize your husband to another person because you will forgive him and forget what he did to annoy you, but the person you criticized him to most likely won’t.
And that stuck with me. Because I had real-life examples of that among some of the wives I knew growing up and saw firsthand how damaging their words were to the men in their lives.
And over the years my husband and I have heard some men talk about their wives in hurtful ways that have left us both wondering how in the world they ever got to that point in their marriage.
It’s so easy to get caught up in critical thoughts, especially when your partner’s feelings are rarely expressed. But those criticisms turn into resentment and before you know it, you find yourself in the middle of a loveless marriage, wondering how to regain the intimacy you once shared.
…so we need to practice respect.
If we don’t want our husbands to speak negatively about us to their buddies, we ought to show the same level of respect when we’re with our girlfriends. (I know this goes both ways, but it’s just us wives here.)
Because my husband and I didn’t like the feeling we got when some of our friends were putting down their partners, we decided early on that it just wasn’t worth it. No matter how irritated we were with each other, we made a promise to respect each other both in public and in private.
We’ve been married 17 years now and although we are always teasing each other in public, we can honestly say we do our best to never put each other down.
I know respect is not the easiest thing to give someone, especially when you are frustrated with them or they damage that respect. But it is the very first step towards showing the love and affection we might be struggling to give.
2. There is no physical affection because we are tapped out…
When we hold our newborns for the first time, we feel like we could hold them forever. Three kids later and we are bribing them for some alone time.
Sometimes our love banks get overdrawn and by the time our husbands come home, it takes effort to show love, even non sexual touch. I know there were days that, no matter how badly I needed a hug, I just couldn’t bring myself to accept one.
And I think that’s a common issue for most moms. By the time our children are in bed, we have given so much love that sometimes, there just isn’t enough left over.
…so we need time to refill.
One of the simple ways that helped me to meet the emotional needs of my partner when he came home was to set a timer for 30 minutes to an hour before he arrived.
The girls and I would do a quick cleanup, then they would sit down for a movie so I could have some alone time getting dinner on the table.
This allowed me to unwind mentally and emotionally, which in turn, allowed for more room on my “affection meter”. By the time my husband was home, I was ready for that connection that couples need when they meet up again.
3. We are too busy for emotional/physical intimacy…
My husband has always had a crazy busy schedule, so I found ways to stay busy so I wasn’t relying on him to keep me happy and entertained, which isn’t good for any marriage. (I know, I tried it.)
But with trying to keep up with my husband, our three daughters and my businesses, life can get out of hand quick. Especially because I can get very driven when I’m working on a project and any interruptions, even in the shape of my six-foot love, can cause me irritation.
Which, as you already guessed, is not conducive to an affectionate relationship.
…so we need to be intentional.
If something is important, we make time for it, right?
If our relationship with our husbands is important to us, we need to be intentional at carving out time to think about them.
For me especially, when I have “all the things” vying for attention in my brain, the last thing on my mind is romance, much less sex. But a healthy relationship has both. So if I find that I’m struggling to show love to my husband, or even to receive it, I go to work on my mind.
Usually, before my husband gets home, I try to think about his day and the things he might have encountered. I try to think about some of the stress he might have been through, or the soreness he might feel after training. I try to think about the fact he went to work even when he was tired, or feeling worn out.
These practices help form an emotional connection to my husband and turn my thoughts on all the little things he does to show he loves me. So before he even gets home I’m feeling in tune with him and our relationship and much more receptive to physical touch.
4. We are too overwhelmed for a romantic relationship…
Just about every wife and mom I know struggles with trying to do “all the things” and most of us never feel there’s enough hours in a day. We often go to sleep without the satisfaction of feeling like we crossed off all our to-do’s.
But there is one area that I try to keep at the top of my list and that’s housework. Because if my house looks like a disaster zone, affection is the farthest thing from my mind. And knowing my organized husband, it’s the farthest thing from his mind, too.
I know there are quotes out there that encourage moms to ignore the mess and enjoy their little ones, but I’m just not cut out to ignore it. If my house is a mess, I’m a mess. I can’t think straight, I can’t focus on tasks at hand and usually, everyone in my house ends up snippy with each other.
… so we need to get things under control.
Because I feel most overwhelmed when my house is out of order, I try to make it a priority. Your biggest trigger for overwhelm might be something else entirely. Whatever it is, try to get it out of the way early on.
Since housework is the bane in everyone’s life, let’s use it as an example for now.
I know that if you are a mom to little ones, keeping up with your home is easier said than done. Then do what I did when my kids were small: have a big push to clean right before dad gets home. Then set your kids down for something less apt to make a mess and continue on with supper or whatever else you were working on.
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If your kids are older, chore charts are a great way to motivate kids to help keep things clean, so there’s less stress on you to do it all.
Whatever is adding stress and overwhelm to your days, adopt some things to help eliminate them. But if having a semi-clean house is all you got done that day, recognize it for the big accomplishment it is and let the rest go.
5. There’s little relationship satisfaction because our health is out of whack…
After my youngest was born, it took probably 8 months before I welcomed touch. I’m talking about from anyone. It was a rough 8 months, but I was so out of sorts, I truly didn’t want to be close to anyone.
And when I went to a doctor, he prescribed a hormone cream that ended up building in my system and turning me into Mrs. Hyde. It was a terrifying experience that I never want to relive.
But it just goes to show how messed up our bodies can get and how badly they can affect our worlds and the people we love inside them.
…so we might need some help.
After my hormone scare, I have since looked at my sex differently. I know women get a bad rap sometimes for the way we can act crazy, but I’m convinced some of these women just need help.
I know I did. I’m so thankful I recognized that the dangerous thoughts I had in my head were not normal and something was wrong. I was literally scared of what I might do.
There are dear women out there who lost marriages, children, jobs, all because they couldn’t get the help they so desperately needed.
If that is you, please, go to a doctor who specializes in natural hormones and let them help. You will be SO glad you did!
One thing I swear by, that has done incredible things for my hormones, is something affectionally called the Pink Drink. It’s amazing! If you struggle with blood sugar issues and fluctuating hormones, you need to check it out!
Ever since I started drinking it every day, I feel amazing; I sleep through the night; I don’t struggle with blood sugar drops or mood swings, and I’ve even lost weight. This stuff is liquid gold.
Conclusion to How to be More Affectionate to Your Husband
I think so many of us start off our marriages with this “romance novel” mindset but when the honeymoon phase is over, we start to see our spouse in a different way. And that’s not a good thing.
Because the truth of the matter is, all we did was lose sight of the emotion we felt when life was wrapped up in just the two of us. When we looked for ways to express our affirmation to one another. When we spoke each other’s love language.
Sometimes we head straight to the marriage counselor when doing the little things we used to do to win the hearts of our men might be all it takes to keep the romance alive and well.
And if there’s one thing I have learned in nearly two decades of marriage, it’s that the plus side of working on showing affection is that it encourages him to do the same. Which makes for a really healthy relationship.
Simple Gestures to Encourage Your Husband
- Leave a love note on his mirror, on his nightstand, in his car, on his desk or in his lunch.
- Bring home his favorite drink or snack.
- Call him just because.
- Give him a 10 second kiss.
- Hold his hand when you’re out walking.
- Sit by him on the couch.
- Make his favorite meal.
- Send him a text and include a pic.
- Wear that perfume he loves.
- Plan a date to a place he enjoys.
- Pray for him.
- Ask his suggestion than use it.
- Give him a back rub.
- Sit with him while he works.
- Go on a walk together.
- Bring him coffee in the morning.
- Pinch his bottom as he walks past.
- Catch his eye in a crowded room.
- Give him “the look”.
- Admire his work. Really watch him.
- Praise him for his strengths.
- Praise him to the children.
- Praise him to others.
- Smile at him when he looks your way.
- Leave intimate articles of clothing where he’ll find them later.
- Use pet names.
- Celebrate special days/anniversaries.
- Shine his shoes.
- Greet him at the door.
- Hang up his coat for him.
- Set up a place for him to relax.
- Bring him a drink and his favorite book.
- Walk him to his car when he leaves.
- Pack his lunch.
- Make a list of the ways he makes your life richer and give it to him.
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About the author
Kimberly McGraw is the founder of Life Worth the Living, a blog focused on helping mothers live their best life. Her desire is to help moms find purpose in who they are as a person, not just as a mom. Life Worth the Living has been featured in Making Sense of Cents, Outwit Trade and Believe and Create.