I cannot tell you how many times I’ve had a wife sitting in my office, talking to me about how she desires more connection in her relationship.
She wants deeper connection and intimacy. She craves admiration and affection.
I live and work in a small, rural town where the next largest cities are at least three or more hours away. Many of the men I encounter are hard-working, physical laboring, and tough-minded kind of men.
From mechanics to oil-field workers to military personnel to ranch hands, these men are strong and typically were taught to stuff down their emotions.
However, I have sat in therapy with couples where the husband – with dirt under his fingernails, stains on his jeans and boots, and tears in his eyes – looks at his wife and tells her how much she means to him.
It’s because of these moments that I do NOT buy the argument, “I’m just not an emotional or affectionate guy.”
Men are emotional and can show affection. It may not be their primary love language, but I have witnessed them do it!
When a husband is not affectionate, there are contributing factors on both sides.
As the wife, there are things you can do and think about to help create an atmosphere that could elicit affection from your husband.
To create space for connection, it is important to understand WHY he might be less affectionate.
Reasons for a Non-Affectionate Husband
The following are some of the most common reasons why husbands don’t show affection towards their spouses.
Reason #1: Too Much Criticizing
No one really likes to be critiqued. People often like to say they appreciate constructive criticism (especially in job interviews because it sounds good), but in reality, no one likes criticism.
There is a difference between constructive criticism and just plain criticizing.
Sometimes people will use the excuse they are “just a blunt person” or “just being honest.” In some ways, that can be an excuse to say whatever you want.
As a wife, it’s easy and good to become comfortable in a relationship where honesty can run free.
However, comfort without awareness and accountability can lead to negative behaviors like nitpicking and criticizing your spouse.
It may seem small and insignificant, but persistent, negative messages, even the most subtle, will breed resentment over time.
That narrative can feed into the idea that he is never good enough. Over time, the narrative will lead to apathy: “Why bother? It doesn’t matter what I do. I’ll be wrong.”
They may quit engaging and quit trying to help. Eventually, the resentment towards you will grow, and he will not want to be affectionate.
He will not want to feel close to someone he believes thinks so little of him.
This is not to say never express your frustration, but rather be aware of how critical you are of him and how negative you may be towards him.
Reason #2: Feelings of Insecurity
Imagine your relationship has an invisible force field around it.
At times, life will throw things at the barrier, like starting a new job, dealing with severe illness, or having relationships with other people who may threaten the relationship.
If the force field is permeable, partners may become more susceptible, leading to damage in the relationship.
Boundaries are critical to protecting each partner within the relationship.
Without boundaries, time, attention, and even affection can be stolen away from one partner to someone or something outside the relationship.
When time, attention, and affection are taken away, it can lead to feelings of insecurity. Lack of security can lead to withholding emotions, love, and affection.
As a wife, it can be helpful to examine where your boundaries are.
Have you protected your relationship and made it a priority?
How is your time divided up?
Where is your husband on your list of people who are important to you?
Where or from whom are you getting your needs met?
If your husband is below others on your priority list, if your excess time is spent elsewhere, or if you are getting your needs met outside the relationship, your husband will likely feel that distance between you.
With that distance comes feelings of insecurity which can lead to a desire for self-preservation. Showing you affection, among other things, can move lower on his priority list.
Reason #3: Lack of Interest and Support in Things He Cares About
You will not always love everything your spouse loves. In fact, there are things your spouse will love that you flat out do not understand.
In reality, that is perfectly acceptable. It is unreasonable to share 100% of your interests with each other.
That being said, it IS important to have some shared interests. It’s equally important to support his interests.
When you completely avoid or even shut down his interests, it can feel like you are shutting down a part of him.
It can be hurtful for your husband to feel like his wife does not care about what is important to him.
Don’t worry; he doesn’t necessarily want you to jump headfirst into his hobbies. However, showing what he is interested in or talking about what is important to him will help him feel valued.
You may not understand what he loves so much about Comic-Con, but it will mean the world to him when you ask what he is excited to see most.
It will help him feel loved if you encourage him to make time for what he loves.
When you dismiss his interests, it feels as though you are dismissing him. This can also lead to resentment towards you and withholding his time and affection towards you.
Again, it isn’t easy to show affection towards someone you may resent.
Reason #4: Not Getting His Needs Met
The law of reciprocity says when someone does something nice for you, then you will feel the need to do something nice in return.
The husband and wife relationship is supposed to be a horizontal relationship. It is supposed to be reciprocal. There is a give and take that is meant to happen in these relationships.
Without a balanced give and take, relationships will often end.
There may be seasons in life where one partner has to give more than the other. That is the nature of life and the way things play out sometimes.
However, if, over time, the scales do not seesaw back in the other direction from time to time, fatigue, hopelessness, apathy, and resentment can enter into the picture.
If your husband is no longer showing affection, it is important to evaluate and even ask if his needs are being met. If his needs are not getting met, he will likely not go out of his way to meet your needs.
Affection can begin to dissipate as his focus turns towards his own needs. He may begin to lack the desire, or even the motivation, to show you affection and help you feel loved or valued.
How to Get Affection From Your Husband
The following are four actionable strategies you can use to increase the chances of your husband showing more affection towards you.
Solution #1: Show Gentleness, Kindness, and Empathy
When someone is kind and loving, it is easier to be kind and loving back.
Be gentle with your husband. That can include your general tone and demeanor or even the words you use.
When I work with couples, I encourage them to soften their approach. Watch out for the harsh tones and words, and become more gentle in your approach, especially when you are upset. Kindness goes a long way as well.
It may seem easy and simple, but it’s not necessarily a given.
Be kind even in anger. You can still be angry while being kind by avoiding things like name-calling, criticism, and sarcasm.
Lastly, show empathy towards him. It will help him feel you understand where he is coming from. It will allow him to feel heard, which is extremely important in relationships.
Many couples stuck in cycles of conflict often feel unheard. Providing empathy can help him feel heard and understood.
If you work to provide gentleness, kindness, and empathy, your husband will feel loved by you and likely be more willing to respond in kind.
It can feel safer for him to show his love for you, and he will likely want to show you affection and admiration.
Simply put, if you treat him well, he will treat you well back.
Solution #2: Help Him Feel More Secure in the Relationship
It’s important to set those boundaries!
Without them, security in the relationship is more easily threatened. It could be an overly demanding boss that’s taking up your time or a flirty friend who he feels uncomfortable with you being around.
Whatever the threat, it is critical to set boundaries and evaluate how they might be impacting the relationship.
Are there times where someone is threatened by seemingly nothing?
Of course. However, having boundaries around the relationship can protect you from future threats to security.
If something is getting in between you and your husband, he will likely see that as a threat.
Eliminating those threats, or at least setting boundaries, can show him his feelings and opinions matter to you. You show him he is a priority in your life, and you create an atmosphere where he can feel more secure.
When people feel insecure, they put up walls to protect themselves. Intimacy can begin to fade as the walls prevent the ability to connect through things like affection.
By creating more security in the relationship, you may help him drop those walls, providing space for him to connect with you again. It opens the door for the love and affection you desire from him.
Solution #3: Show Interest and Support in What He Cares About
Sharing interests is an important part of any relationship. It’s the common ground that often brings people together in the beginning stages of any relationship. It’s what holds things together while intimacy grows.
However, everyone is different and typically has their own separate interests. Having a level of independence in a relationship is good and healthy! It’s important to support each other in these personal interests.
I have known many wives who are confused, annoyed, and even angered by their husbands’ hobbies. Like with anything, there needs to be a balance when it comes to work, family, and hobbies.
It IS important to support your husband’s interest. However, you don’t need to force them to become a shared interest. Just ask him about it. Show that you care.
Ultimately, it’s not about caring as much as he cares, but rather it is about caring for what makes him happy.
Encourage him to spend time on his interests. It will bring him happiness and lift him up.
When he feels support from you, he will likely appreciate you, and that appreciation may lead to affection.
Solution #4: Help Meet His Needs That Are Applicable to You
Your husband’s needs cannot all be met by you. However, it is important to meet the ones you can.
It’s easy to get distracted by other aspects of life, and your husband may be the one who gets your leftovers (if there are even any left).
Find ways to think about him, make him a priority, and meet his needs. It will help him feel loved by you. It’s easier to be affectionate with someone who treats you so well.
When you treat him well and meet his needs, it can create space for him to be affectionate and show his appreciation for you.
Because relationships are supposed to be reciprocal, if you are meeting his needs, it will help open the door for him to meet yours.
He will likely be more motivated to help make you feel how you make him feel.
With reciprocity in mind, if you want your husband to show more affection, then you can show affection too!
Whether it’s through words or actions, if you are affectionate with him, it allows him to reciprocate your affection with some of his own.
Wrapping Up a Non Affectionate Husband
At the end of the day, relationships work best when both partners make a concerted effort to be the best they can be.
It can feel overwhelmingly vulnerable to show affection when you are not entirely sure how your spouse will respond.
Change often starts with someone taking a leap of faith, reaching out to their spouse.
While it can be scary, you can be the person to make the first move, becoming the catalyst for positive change and regaining the affectionate husband you used to have!
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