DGS gets a lot of emails from readers who tell us “My husband is not affectionate or romantic.” While that is a problem, is it enough of an issue to warrant divorce? Here’s the story of one reader who’s wondering about this:
I have been married for 12 years and all these years I have felt content. It wasn’t until a few months ago, during a girls’ trip, that it dawned on me how lonely and unloved I felt.
My husband pushes me away half the time when I try to kiss him or be near, and my husband is not affectionate or romantic, and is not complimentary. He also has gotten into a bunch of concerning theologies and conspiracy theories lately. I threatened that if he didn’t change I was leaving.
He has stopped listening to the theories but still believes them and is making efforts to cook and whatnot but all he does is for the kids, not me, and he even admits that. He still is not affectionate and I feel alone. I think even if he does change I may want to pursue love with another, as I don’t think he has the capacity to love me the way I want to be loved.
I am scared to death though of change. I’m scared that I am being too selfish or that the kids will be devastated. I don’t know how to tell him, them, or anyone else. I’m afraid of never finding love. I have no idea how to support myself. I am so lonely here but so scared of the unknown. Please help!!
Advice for: “My husband is not affectionate or romantic”
There’s nothing worse than feeling alone in a marriage. Lack of intimacy and spouses who aren’t affectionate or romantic is one of the biggest complaints I get from clients. When you first get married, you can’t keep your hands off each other. Once kids come into the picture that all changes. Add the challenges of work and day-to-day household tasks, having the inclination to hop into the sack is not exactly top of the list. Over time, you start to take each other for granted, and forget what brought you together in the first place.
It’s no wonder that after your husband has repeatedly rejected you, you would want to find the affection elsewhere. The very idea that you could have sparks flying with someone new likely makes it much easier to endure the brush offs of your husband. It’s perfectly normal to want to be affectionate and romantic with your partner and not the least bit selfish. You deserve attention and love. It doesn’t mean it’s the right solution to your problems though.
You mentioned that you threatened to leave your husband if he didn’t change. Your threats are bringing attention to your needs but they’re likely angering him and causing him to retreat even further. Even though it seems obvious to you that he should know how to be loving, he may not have the tools or the language to do so the way you want him to.
Women and men see the world very differently, and often, the way one person displays their love is very different than the way the other one does (I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman).
It’s interesting that you became aware of your unhappiness when on a trip with your girlfriends. Could there be more going on with you too? Perhaps 12 years being a wife and mother has led you to forget about yourself. I can’t tell you how many women I’ve met (this author included) who have lost their identity (figuratively) to their families. You become his wife and their mother, and your needs never get met. It may be that you need more personal fulfillment outside your family life.
Making the decision to divorce is huge and should not be made lightly. There are several steps you can take before you go down that road.
1. Find a marriage counselor.
A good marriage counselor will help you and your husband communicate better. He/she will help you look at things from each other’s perspective. When you’re angry and lonely, you aren’t very open to what your spouse may be saying or not saying and your approach to communicating with him may be hurtful too. Learning to communicate well is the key to any relationship.
2. Gently ask your husband (perhaps after some marriage counseling) if he’d consider going to see a therapist.
If he’s turning to theologies and conspiracies, he might be looking for an escape from his life. There are many reasons that could be the case, from childhood issues that are starting to surface now, to mental health issues that may or may not have anything to do with you.
3. I’m not a therapist or a doctor, however, I know that drops in testosterone in men can cause all sorts of issues including low libido.
Perhaps he’d be willing to talk to his physician about it. Might be a long shot, but something to keep in mind.
4. Do some self-reflection.
A good Life Coach can also be very helpful in leading you to discover what’s truly keeping you stuck and unhappy. Your marriage may be one piece of it. Truly discovering who you are and learning to love yourself is life-altering. It will set you on a whole different path, regardless of your marital status.
It’s completely understandable that you want to run because of your spouse’s lack of affection and romance, but before you do, give your marriage another chance. You’ve had 12 years and children together, it’s worth the effort to try and save it. If you do determine that the marriage isn’t salvageable, marriage counseling will help you end it with much less conflict and impact on your children. I encourage you to give it a try.
Karen Bigman is the Founder & President of The Divorcierge. Karen partners with individuals faced with the myriad of emotions and tasks associated with divorce, acting as a guide and confidante, and consulting with them on how to navigate the emotional, financial and logistical issues. Karen holds a B.S.B.A. from Boston University, and M.B.A. from Columbia Business School, and an iPEC Coach Certification (CPC®). She is also a CDC® Certified Divorce Coach. Karen has been profiled in the NY Post, Financial Times and UK’s Daily Mail. The Divorcierge is global and now works with all genders.
Like this article? Check out, “20 Things I Wish I Could Have Told My Newly Separated Self.”