Lack of physical and emotional intimacy can be a real deal-breaker in any relationship. It takes an even worse turn in a marriage when a man doesn’t show affection anymore. There is no condition as miserable as a woman stuck in an affectionless marriage. She got into this relationship with a heart full of love and hope for a lifetime. Now that things went south in her marriage over the years, she cannot help losing her sleep over, “I can’t understand why my husband is not affectionate or romantic anymore.”
So, what does a lack of affection do to a woman? Let’s listen to the version of Claire Davis (name changed to protect identity), who is a 33-year-old web designer. Claire tells us, “On our last phone call, my husband yelled at me, “You are the most absurd creature on earth!” I go to the movies alone. I’m often seen at cafes and bars with a book in my hand. Work, for me, is not just a profession. If not for some over-enthusiastic friends, I would have been alone on my birthdays too, as I usually am on most festive nights.
“I drink a little. My friends say it’s not a little, but a little too much. They think I am illogical and bizarre and that I’m ruining myself. All I’m doing is trying to find a speck of happiness and just BE. I want to be loved…I just want to be loved. You could even go so far as to say that I am starved for love and affection.
“Here’s the crux of the matter – I still love my husband, but I know that he doesn’t love me. We live apart in different cities – we talk once in two months and even that conversation is toxic. To be honest, I am contemplating legal separation. Each time I consider it, I remember that I still love him. And I crave affection from him.”
Did you know skin hunger or touch starvation is a real condition? Affection and intimacy are one of the basic necessities for us humans to survive, just as much as food or water. When your husband is not affectionate, it can leave a deep psychological impact on you. Holding hands, a warm embrace before bed (or as we call it a non-sexual touch) releases stress-relieving hormones like oxytocin. Naturally, being deprived of the love hormone for a long period of time can push you toward chronic depression and anxiety.
If you have to constantly remind him about your existence, if you have to beg for his love, it will take a toll on your self-esteem. Lack of affection from husband might make a woman feel, “He doesn’t find me attractive anymore.” And, this can lead to a host of body image issues taking a hole in her mind, making her uncomfortable in her own skin.
Craving affection and not receiving enough creates a big space between the partners in a marriage. Eventually, there will be less and less conversation, almost no quality time together, and a loss of trust and respect for your husband. So, is there anything at all that you can do to improve the situation if your better half is uncomfortable with physical affection? Of course, we are talking about mending the relationship before the thought of divorce even comes into your mind. Let’s find out.
things to do if you are starved for affection in a marriage
To solve any problem, we have to first reach out to the root of it. In this situation, your step should be to find an answer to: why is your husband not affectionate? Don’t straightaway come to a conclusion that he fell out of love with you before analyzing the other factors in a marriage.
Often couples grow apart in a marriage after the birth of their first child as all their love and affection get channelized to this little one who becomes the center of their collective universe. There is also a possibility that he is under immense stress at the office and unable to be emotionally available at the moment. Maybe, he could not get through to you with his emotional needs because you have already built up a wall between you two. You never know, in his mind, he may also be thinking, “Why is my wife not affectionate to me all of a sudden?”
At the end of the day, as he makes himself a participant in this eternal rat race in search of better opportunities and a better life, he may forget how healing it can be to touch a loved one gently. Brushing off her hair in the kitchen, covering her with a blanket after she falls asleep on the couch, soft forehead kisses in the morning – these gestures are so simple yet therapeutic.
Related Reading: How To Deal With A Partner Who Makes You Feel Insecure
Trust me, you can always remind him of all the sweet memories you had together and save this marriage. Claire says, “I wonder how long it will take for him to realize that I forgive him for all his flaws. And that he too, needs to forgive me for mine. We made a commitment after all…and what we need to do is work on it. Why should we shy away, or run and hide? Relationships get challenging – that’s inevitable. But giving up is not an option.
“My relationship with my husband hangs on me like an albatross and will probably lead me to my end. I should realize (and accept) that maybe it’s over. But I have hope. A tiny little bit of hope. This four-letter word stops me from moving on. I still want to hold his hand and say, “I want you to love me…I am starved for love and affection”.”
If you want to work at reviving a relationship where love and affection have died a slow death, accept that progress may be slow and may require a good deal of patience. Are you ready for diving in? If yes, we are here to tell you about 5 effective things to do if you are starved for affection in a marriage. Stay tuned with us:
1. Don’t try to force it on him
If you want our advice, stop fixating on this issue to the extent that it becomes the defining factor of your relationship and your life. Yes, communicating with your partner about your need for affection is one way to let the weight off your chest but whining is not. You can nag all you want saying, “My husband is not affectionate or romantic”, but the more you point out that you are living in an affectionless marriage, the more it will chase him away. You have to be patient until his love flows back spontaneously again.
If it’s not his intention to be emotionally unavailable, he will be banging his head wondering, “Why am I not an affectionate person?” In due course, he will live with awful insecurities about his incapabilities of fulfilling your physical and mental expectations. Even if he tries sometimes to be extra affectionate, it won’t be sufficient to quench your thirst. You will think of it as a pity hug that he is giving out of obligation just to make you happy. In no way can it help improve your sense of self-worth, especially when you are craving affection.
2. Find a balance between sexual and non-sexual intimacy
We have seen couples dealing with huge misunderstandings because of this dilemma. When the husband feels rejected because his wife is avoiding physical intimacy, the wife’s version tells us that the lack of affection is making her feel used only for sex. Now, relentlessly complaining about the lack of affection from husband won’t do any good to your relationship.
This is a matter that has to be resolved mutually between the husband and wife. Maybe you start by spending more time on the foreplay to compensate for the lack of affection prevailing in your marriage. You could also try to make him understand that just because you are married, he cannot expect sexual favors from you any time he wants. He should be more compassionate about your need for affection and emotional intimacy.
3. Take good care of yourself
As they say, you cannot pour from an empty cup. Simply put, you can only make others happy when you are content in life. When a man doesn’t show affection, it leaves his wife in a dark hole of loneliness. She gets obsessed with this ignorance and cannot treat other valuable aspects of her life with due importance. The concept of self-love vanishes entirely.
Claire shares her story of a lonely holiday season, “I have always kept my family and friends company. But when it comes to me, no one makes that extra effort to check in. I was alone this Christmas. I cleaned my house, cooked, decorated the tree and bought myself a present too. But I’ve never felt so alone or realized more acutely that I want to be loved. Every evening in that week was stranger than the previous one emotionally. With so much physical exhaustion, I fell asleep and woke up to an empty house.”
For the love of God, take a hard look at yourself in the mirror. You deserve a happy life no matter whether a man loves you or not. Don’t let this lack of affection kill the beautiful fun-loving soul in you. Get back to your interests and passions. Set an hour in the day just for yourself where you don’t allow any disturbance. Join a recreation class, go for yoga, shop! The world is your oyster – do whatever it takes to make yourself the priority.
Related Reading: Feeling Lonely In A Relationship – 15 Tips To Cope
4. Pay heed to his emotional needs
What does a lack of affection do to a woman? Let’s hear from Claire about how she started falling for another man when she could understand why her husband is uncomfortable with physical affection. She says, “There was a man I fell in love with. He used to come to our house and hang around with my husband and I. Meeting him made me realize how much I crave love and affection.
“We had a deep, loving connection and he could make me laugh and dance. He understood that I just need to be loved. But now that my husband is not here, he avoids me as if I have some sort of disease. Now, I’m suddenly the friend’s wife. I wonder what happened to the gazes we shared. I find myself questioning if a man will ever stand by me.”
Here we cannot blame Claire for trying to find solace in a different man. But when you feel there is still hope for your marriage and you are not ready to move on to the next chapter, maybe give the love of your life another chance. Don’t be annoyed and leave the room when he is venting about a bad day. Stick by his side, give him all your attention, and ask him what he wants from you. We truly think couples being sensitive about each other’s emotional needs in a relationship can make all the difference.
5. Plan for more ‘us’ time
Claire broke into utter despair as she could not find any silver lining, “I often see friends with children and love seeing them grow up. It fills my heart with glee as their gurgles begin to make sense and they form their first words. I have often thought of adopting a child, but agencies are not always pro-single mothers. I’m accused of becoming bitter. What am I, if not just a girl, standing in front of the world, just simply asking to be honestly and wholeheartedly loved?”
Drifting apart from your life partner is painful and heartbreaking. But the truth of the matter is that it doesn’t happen overnight. The neglect sets in long before the symptoms start to show. So if you want to remember the situation, you need to find a way to connect with your spouse again. Find more ways to show affection to your partner. Go on more date nights, and take out some time off your busy schedule to spend it together.
We would conclude with an assurance that there is still a ray of hope if you really look for it! When both the partners wholeheartedly want to work on the marriage, you can definitely take one step forward to a better future.
Everyone needs to feel loved and validated in their lives. If you just want to be loved, there’s nothing wrong with it. Provided your craving is healthy. If you are bordering on dependency and clinginess, you should work on building your self-esteem. Work on your relationship with yourself, and become self-sufficient emotionally.
You can convey your feelings and emotional needs to your partner honestly. Sit down with them and have a good talk. Tell them that, “I crave love and affection.” Open communication is vital in any relationship. Moreover, you can work on becoming a little more independent (emotionally) by spending time with yourself. Derive satisfaction from your achievements, social connections, and life.
You will feel anxious about not being loved by anyone. It will bring a sense of despair into your life. A constant irritation will bother you without any specific reason. It will feel like something is off-tune and you don’t know what it is.
Affection and intimacy are one of the most basic things a person needs to lead a happy, satisfying life. Be it from a romantic partner or their family and friends, life becomes more fulfilling with a touch of affection.
Due to a lack of affection, the partners will eventually grow apart. This distance created between them will be hard to cover. Love and respect will fly outside the window. They will hardly consult each other about any personal decision or look for suggestions. Unless taken care of before it’s too late, it can lead to a separation.