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Developing the Ability to be Affectionate
By Kay Twombley
I'm writing this
article for several reasons.
1st, there are
many marriages in trouble because of lack of affection.
2nd, there are
misconceptions about affection. People think they're affectionate and they're not. People equate love with affection. People equate love with responsibility.
3rd, people realize
they aren’t affectionate but they don't know what to do about this lack in their life.
The divorce rate
is 60% on first time marriages and 60% on second marriages. Most counselors agree there are 3 main reasons for divorce:
the mismanagement of all 3.
Affection is a huge part of sex and communication. The word affection means tender attachment and fondness. These 2 qualities in communication and sexual activity will certainly enhance your success.
All of our
love relationships need to be fortified, as if to withstand an attack. Our family relationships, particularly our marriages, need to be as strong as we can get them so we don't lose valuable time being distracted by our discontent.
We need to get ready to move spiritually. This means we must get prepared in every area including our marriages. This article isn't about bad marriages. I
believe this article is about good marriages.
Once they know
the truth, good marriages have the strength to change. This is about improving an already good thing, taking it up to a higher level of enjoyment.
Affection isn't just being good. This is one of the misconceptions. A wife may say, "I keep the house clean; I cook for
my husband ; I wash his clothes and I take care of his children."
That's all "good"
but it can all be done without tender attachment and fondness.
A husband may
say, "I work 60 hours a week; I cut the grass; I work on the car; I figure out the budget and she never worries for anything
This is all "good"
but that can all be done without tender attachment and fondness.
This is a misconception.
Doing something for your mate doesn't equate affection. It does equate love and it does equate being responsible.
A maid and an
accountant could come in and do all those things. A relationship between a husband and wife should be very special. It should be enjoyed by both. It should be filled with tender attachment and fondness.
If your partner
has ever complained about your communication skills or your lack of sexual activity you need to take this article to heart.
like the word attach. The word connect makes me think of a light plug being put in a socket. Connections can be easily broken, accidentally or on purpose. Attachment is like two pieces of metal welded together. They become as one and aren't easily separated.
When you're affectionate you have the ability to influence your partner’s feelings. Affection is a feeling your partner gets when he or she is around you. He/she feels your tenderness and feels your fondness towards him/her. You have the ability to stir up feelings inside your partner when you're affectionate.
Most couples can
say that when they dated they felt their partner was affectionate. That is good, now we know the ability is there we just need to get you back in touch with this tenderness you once had.
should be the best of all. I think in some cases they are, however our divorce rate is the same as the non-Christian.
You can love someone and not be affectionate. The person married to an unaffectionate spouse is generally
not as happy. You can love without affection, but your love may be interpreted as obligation or responsibility.
When a person
feels the only reason someone is living with them is because they feel an obligation toward them, resentment builds.
There are several
reasons why I want you to understand the content of this article. The first is, there's a great amount of discontent in marriages. I hope this article will decrease some disappointment. I think there are people reading who are truly disappointed in their marriages and they feel trapped.
goal is that you and your mate would learn something from this and your enjoyment level will go up. I believe understanding works towards resolution. Understanding should lead to action. Action should lead to change. Change is what we need.
A better understanding gives you strength to change. Understanding helps you realize where you're wrong.
You must be honest with your mate if you're not satisfied, but pray before you tell them how you feel. You must tell them.. "You haven't because you ask not."
I hope this article helps you understand love can be broken down into different components. Affection is one component of love and a very important component. Commitment is another component of love. Responsibility is another component.
We seem to understand responsibility better than affection. Responsibility is generally demonstrated outwardly. Affection is demonstrated inwardly. Responsibility influences what we do; affection influences the subtle messages we send that help the other person to feel
If you realize
you're not as affectionate as you want to be, set some goals to start changing. Your increased awareness of this problem should stimulate you to look hard at a different life style. From my observation, men generally
know they're not affectionate.
They don't always
do anything about it, but they at least know their true state. Women on the other hand whom I observe aren't aware of how cold they are at times. Women can be tender towards their children and they do "kind things" around the house, I think they feel they're affectionate.
Check this out.
As a counselor, I find this one of the leading misconceptions. Are you tenderly attached to your husband and do you feel fondness towards him? More importantly, does your husband feel love and tenderness from you?
You may say, "No,
his actions have killed a big part of my affection towards him." Now, you must ask, "Have my actions towards him killed some of his affection towards me?"
never one sided.
Some of your goals should be to demonstrate your feelings in words and actions. If you're not a hugger, change that - start today. This is difficult at first because you're not familiar with being warm. You could have been
reared in a family environment that made affection a secondary goal rather than a primary goal.
Now that you know
better, it's your responsibility to change. You may not feel affectionate and you think, "If I do this I'm a fake." It's okay to be fake at first; it'll change down the road and you'll be genuine. You must just start and ignore your feelings.
You start by making
a decision: "I'm going to be different. I'm going to be a comfort to my husband or my wife. I'm going to speak tenderly and do things to increase our emotional attachment to each other.
This isn't too hard to do. I'm going to speak kindly to my mate. I'm going to praise my mate for his or her hard work; I'm going to appreciate my mate from now on. I'm going to honor him/her by doing special loving things just for him/her. I'm going to be affectionate and responsible."
There are some
special cases I want to mention. Affection is particularly hard for someone who was sexually abused and/or was reared in a chaotic home. You may need help beyond this article. Do not beat yourself up because you're unaffectionate. For
you to start today, you may need additional help.
That's not shameful, remember some people of faith have had to have surgery before and professional counseling is a form of medicine. Also you could attend one of our sessions when I teach my book, "Where Was God When I
If you want to deal with yourself in general, attending
one of our sessions will help. People attend for a variety of reasons.
Many times you
don't understand why you're like you are, these sessions help uncover hidden reasons.
To summarize for the ones wanting to learn to be more affectionate in their marriage:
You must have awareness of how you really relate to your mate. Ask your spouse if he/she is emotionally and physically satisfied with you.
2. Be willing to compromise. You may not want as much closeness as your spouse does. What your spouse wants is YOUR problem. Your spouse is married to you and no one
else. To help in the sexual area a good scale for married couples is to ask your mate how many times a week or month he or
she would like to be sexually intimate. Write down that score. Then you share with him or her how many times a week you'd like to be sexually intimate. Write that down beside your spouse’s number.
Now, it must be
a compromise. Not your way and not your spouse’s way but some where in the middle. *** As you get older and fatigue
becomes a factor, fatigue doesn’t erase this need for compromise and having children doesn’t erase this compromise.
3. It’s okay not to have a perfect marriage. Be patient and persistent with yourself.
4. For people who realize they were reared in an environment where affection wasn't the primary goal you may feel very awkward as you begin reaching out.
If your mate corrects
you, you may want to just give up. That isn't an option, tell your mate his/her comments are making it hard for you and he/she
needs to pray more for you instead of criticize.
5. Once you start, don't stop. Do small things every week such as holding your mate’s hand or gently rubbing your mate’s arm while watching TV. Just begin with touching.
6. If you feel you can't talk honestly with your mate about this issue write him/her a letter. If you still can’t talk, you need further help. Seek a godly marriage or pastoral counselor who can help you with this problem.
7. Ask God to give you strength to pray for yourself and your mate.
Why I Am Unaffectionate in My Marriage
by Kathleen Howe
I'm not authentically an unaffectionate person. It's taken
many years of pain, hurt feelings and the lack of receiving affection in my marriages that has finally led me stop yearning
for affection or praying for an affectionate partner or spouse in my life.
"Giving up?" You ask. "Isn't that a bit hard?"
I'm not giving up I write with a slight smile on my lips,
I'm just learning to love myself and respect myself enough to want false pretenses in my marriage. My marriage should never
have been and I know that now. None of my marriages should have been, but what can you do to change the past? Nothing. I'm
just realistically accepting my present moments to not include affection from my husband.
Although I just turned fifty-one years old, I've just finally
come to know some truths about life. When I was eighteen years old and married for the first time it was out of spite towards
my father. He had condemned me to, "meet a man, get married and have kids" because that's what women were for when I had handed
him a college application to help me fill out. I had wanted to be a history teacher, and now I'm only writing my own history.
The marriage lasted eight years and produced two children.
It was from the beginning a marriage of no trust, no love and no affection whatsoever. Although I was comfortable in the marriage,
financially speaking, it was only out of his spite for my mother's words, "You'll never be able to support Kathleen in the
manner to which she's accustomed to." that I never had to really work a full time job. I spent my days with my children at
the beach, loving that in south Florida, but I didn't have any kind of personal, intimate relationship with my husband at
My second marriage was a farce from the beginning. He didn't even get me a real diamond engagement
ring. I found that out after the fact when I went to have the ring appraised during our divorce. I needed money for a lawyer
and the poor jeweler that had to tell me, "I'm so sorry sweetheart, this ring isn't worth a dime."
While this relationship was rife with "Basic Instinct" sex
at the beginning, he was a cop and he ruled our roost so to speak with an abusive nature. It was in this marriage, another
eight years of my life - that I learned what conditional love was, although now I understand he never loved me or anyone else.
He doesn't understand the meaning of the word. But all I and my two children from the previous marriage as well as my
son from this marriage was a sure lesson concerning emotional, verbal, physical and financial abuse.
It was tumultous, tortuous and finally devastating to the
nth degree when I was forced out of mental coercion and my own lack of mental stability after eight years of abuse that I
relinquished custody of my son to him and my girls to my first husband. I was finally worn down enough to give up.
I then met a man in a bar, who wanted to talk and it was
another abusive situation only worse. What do you do when you're an emotional pile of skin and bones and you don't have the
ability to make any decisions that mean two cents? You just go with the flow and I did that. I got pregnant. I carried out
my self fulfilling prophecy and did the only thing I knew how to do - find a man - get married - have kids. I just did this
one in a different order. I met the man - got pregnant - got married and then within two months time - got abused.
It was at this time that my police officer ex-husband decided
to inform me that there were shelters for abused women. Hahahaa. Not kidding. It was then that my two year battle with abusiveness
began and my schizophrenic existence revolved around a man who could love me more than anyone and hate me more than anyone.
It was pure hell. I was in a revolving door existence and I wanted to jump out but it was spinning too fast.
Finally I got out.
On a bus, nine months pregnant, with a toddler in hand and
a brown paper bag with a few things in it, we boarded and didn't get off until we were in an unknown city, of unknown
origin, to be unknown people beginning life all over from scratch and not knowing a soul. Well almost no one. There was one
friend I had from years prior that had also escaped an abusive cop husband. She lived in this city with her new husband and
children. She had been so far removed from my life for so long that I didn't believe that anyone could find me through her.
She watched my son while I gave birth to my youngest daughter,
two days after arriving in the new city. She was disabled from being run over by her cop ex-husband with his patrol car while
he was drinking beer and had her two daughters in the car with him. She knew my pain. We were and continue to be sisters in
I lived in a domestic violence shelter. I moved to a transitional
housing unit. Then I got a job and began looking at my options. I was trying to go to college through an adult re-entry program.
It was hard living with a toddler and a newborn by myself, no car and traveling around an unknown city by bus, but we were
happy. While working as a waitress, I met a man who seemed really nice. He didn't seem abusive. We ended up together and about
a year later got married.
You would think I would learn.
My toddler doesn't
Kathy says, "I'm a stay-at-home mom and I spend all my time with my 16-month-old. I've always been very affectionate with her, but she doesn't return my hugs and kisses. When other people try to show their love, she pushes them away.
It's really hard to watch this with her grandparents; they love her to death and she won't let them get close to her. My husband and I don't know why she's like this. Are we doing something wrong?"
What BabyCenter readers say:
"The key is PATIENCE. Don't give up. Keep hugging and kissing her. She will return them. I'm a stay at home Mom too with a 16 month-old boy. My
boy is somewhat similar to your daughter, not a cuddly type.
My husband and I don't stop showering him with affection. At unexpected times, he hugs us and offers his mouth to be kissed. Although this doesn't happen often, that's enough to
make our hearts swell. Good luck."
"Rest assured, You're not
alone. She'll learn someday and show it."
"Our daughter is 13-months-old. We, too, have always been very affectionate with her.
She has gone through phases
when it comes to returning our affections. At about 10 months, she was very kissy. Right now, she gives lots of hugs and only the occasional kiss.
When she hugs, she squeezes
tight. When she kisses, she gives the most wonderful, sloppy open-mouthed baby kisses! Even when she's not being affectionate with us, she
always has hugs for boys and teddy bears.
My best advice to you would
be to keep showing lots of affection when you're around her - both toward her and to others you'd like her to be affectionate with.
Children learn from watching
other people's behavior. So if she sees a lot of people behaving affectionately toward one another, she may be more likely to pick up on it as a favorite behavior.
Even if you're disappointed that she's not returning a hug or a kiss, don't let her see it. Maybe she just hasn't found her way of demonstrating her
love for you.
It will come with time.
Hope this helps."
"Hi Kathy, You're not doing anything wrong. Personal space may just be very important to your little girl right
now. there are times when my toddler also will not return affection.
It's not because she doesn't
love us, but at that moment, she just needs her space. I have found that the best way to deal with this is to not try and
push affection on my dd, but to give her her space. it is then that she wants to come over and sit in Mama or dada's lap and snuggle."
"Don't force what is not wanted
on a child. In time she will give kisses and hugs when she wants to."
"It just takes time. My daughter didn't start
showing affection until she was about 18 mos and I'd always hug and kiss her. Don't give up, it'll happen and when it does....it'll
be so special and feel so wonderful!!"
"I think some kids are more affectionate
than others and you shouldn't worry. We used to say to my older daughter "snuggles not struggles" because she was such a wriggler
in our arms and would rarely allow us to hold her and snuggle up.
She would stiffen up her body
a lot. I've met other kids like this too. I think she was about two years old when she figured out how nice it was to be affectionate
with us and now she is quite often.
My younger daughter had known
from day one how nice it is to cuddle in mama's arms. They're both loving and happy girls. I think kids have different boundaries
about touching just like adults and things evolve.
Don't stress out and respect
your daughter's feelings."
"My son is 14mo and still doesn't give kisses and hugs. He'll give 'the baby' kisses in the mirror
or his Glow Baby kisses.. but not the mommy or daddy or ANYONE.
I think that when he's ready
- he will. He has offered them a few times and to our surprise.. but not very often.
It'll be another wonderful
experience when he decides to enjoy a hug or kiss later on to mommy or daddy."
"My 2 1/2 year old is the same way and
always has been. She is just very independent. In fact, her little sister is the only person that she will always give hugs
and kisses to.
We cuddle a lot when she wants
to and let her have her space when she wants that.
Now, that being said, I have
heard that emotional distance is a sign of autism. If you're noticing other problems, you may want to talk to your pediatrician
about testing. Or you may just have a willful, independent child, like me. Good
"I am having the exact same problem with my 16-month old son. I think he is extremely strong willed and
isn't willing to kiss or hug upon command.
I know he knows how to do
these things so I continue to shower him w/affection (whether he likes it or not). I've grown to accept that he's affectionate
in other ways (he will offer you food, drink, toys, etc) and will smile from ear to ear when I enter the room.
If I can get the occasional
kiss or hug rather than the shot to the throat then I am thrilled. Good luck."