Dear Barb – A New Stand-Off

Dear Barb:

I have been married for five years and my husband and I are very happy and get along well. But before we got married my husband was a lot more affectionate than now. For example, he always used to sit beside me on the sofa and now he sits in his own chair. Also at times he would massage my feet, now he will only do that if I ask him and I feel he is only doing this because I asked him. At times, I feel distant from him, but I am beginning to accept that this is the way our relationship will be. I have asked him numerous times if he is happy and he always says he is. He never asks me if I’m happy. The only time he sits with me on the sofa is if we have company and there is nowhere else for him to sit. To be honest we have gotten into such a habit of sitting apart that when he does sit with me if feels uncomfortable. I fear we are growing far apart physically and I’m not sure that this good thing for me, although he seems to be quite happy with the way things are. We have friends who are much more affectionate and they have been together longer than us. Should I just accept this and push my needs aside? I am at a loss for what to do? Gina.

Hi Gina:

Thanks for your excellent letter. Judging by some of the research I’ve done many women feel as you do. On the whole men are not an affectionate group. There are many reasons why your husband may not be affectionate. He may simply have never learned it in his home while growing up; also he may have been in a relationship where his advances were rejected by his partner. Men are very sensitive to rejection and he may fear being rejected again. If his parents weren’t affectionate with each other he wouldn’t have learned how to be affectionate and will not feel comfortable with affection. You say you are happy and get along well, so if this is the only issue in your relationship it is worth putting in the effort necessary to change the dynamics between you and your husband. Begin by discussing how you feel, but not in an accusatory manner, as this will just cause him to become defensive. Following your discussion he may attempt to be more affectionate for a while, but eventually he will revert to his comfort level. Don’t follow his lead; continue to be affectionate with him, just a playful touch, maybe holding his hand, the occasional hug, will help him to feel comfortable with affection. If he doesn’t respond right away, don’t give up, be patient. Remember no relationship, or person is perfect. If you are happy and you get along with each other, that’s a big part of a happy relationship.

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Email your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality; your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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