Q&A: Difficulty Showing Affection

“I have been with my fiancé for two years. I love him very much, but have a difficult time showing it. He is a great man. Has great integrity, treats me well. He is my best friend. He has also done a lot for me and I have supported him in his time of need. I can’t imagine my life without him. However, his needs are frequently the last things that I think about. I often feel pressured to hug or kiss him, in part because he makes such a big deal when I don’t. When I do hug or kiss him he thinks it is because he lectured me into it, when really I just felt like doing it. I have become increasingly affectionate, however, he feel that I have been lectured into being so. That may be the case, but I really just want to now. He has lots of issues surrounding things that happened in his childhood, most seriously being made to feel inadequate and having a mom very much like me. I just know that I love him and need to work on showing that, getting him to believe the genuineness of it and getting him to stop making references to my past relationships.  I rarely question whether or not I love him or that we are meant to be together until he starts to point out my shortcomings when it come to showing him that I care. I don’t like that.  I don’t like the confusion. He’s a great man. I understand that and I don’t want to let him go.”

It sounds like you two need to work on your communication skills.  You could easily look into some pre-marital counseling to help with that.  I’m not sure about where you live, but here it’s the norm to receive counseling before you get married, to help iron out many different issues (some of which you mentioned).  I think that you two would benefit greatly from talking to someone prior to marriage.  They will help you two dialogue about key issues that are affecting your relationship.

On a side note, at one point in my marriage I was the less affectionate one.  I, too, felt pressured to hug/kiss my husband and sometimes would even cringe when he would touch me.  Talk about a shot to my husband’s ego (and heart)! 😦   He wanted me to feel cherished and loved when he touched me, not to resist him.  It was a sad time in our marriage, and I was reacting that way because I was hurt & angry and holding on to something that had happened in my past, although I didn’t realize it at the time.  My husband confronted me and basically told me that he couldn’t go on any longer like we were.  We had a VERY LONG TALK and got everything out in the open, and in the end I agreed to try to work on my responses to his touch and being affectionate… and he agreed to be patient with me and let me try to work through it in my own time schedule.

After a month or so he remarked to me casually that he could tell that I was actively trying to make a change and that he appreciated it.  That’s all that was said.  After a couple more months he told me that he noticed I was freely giving him more hugs/kisses out of the blue and that it made him feel so good…and he thanked me for it.  A couple more months went by and by this time he was approaching me with hugs & kisses and I wasn’t cringing or pushing him away any more.  I had worked through my issues (that he knew about, because remember we had talked) on my own timetable without pressure from him.  And now here we are years later and I’m still so very affectionate with him!

I told you that only to let you know that I’ve had a similar situation and came through it stronger.  You and your fiancé can as well if you are willing to communicate honestly about what your issues are and are willing to give each other the space and/or encouragement you need to work through them.  This is definitely something that can grow larger and interfere with your marriage in the future, so you really need to focus on coming together with a plan for how you will work through this now. I’ll pray for you two, that you are able to work through this together and come out stronger on the other side.

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  • April 2010
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