5 Ways to Increase Affection in Your Marriage

Love u

Do you remember the Dave Matthew’s song, “Everyday”? More importantly, do you remember the funny video that accompanied the song? There are several versions out there but they always depict a guy going around town, making it his mission to collect hugs. I think my husband really “gets” that guy. He’s very affectionate and often looks for a hug from me (or some kind of affection) nearly “everyday.”

Problem is, I’m not very affectionate. So this has been an issue to some degree or another all throughout my marriage (Yep, messiness galore!). I was raised in a family that rarely showed affection when I was growing up, so it’s been a struggle to develop this habit and mindset in my life and marriage. But since I don’t want to make excuses or be bound to my past, I’ve continued to try new ways to remind myself that my husband needs a loving touch.

Many of you may not struggle in this way, but most marriages without extra effort in the affection department tend to go the way of left-over pizza—ending up cold and stale! So here are some helpful tips that I’ve used over the years (yes, I’ve done and/or continue to do every one of these!)

1.  Write yourself a reminder – This can be in the form of a simple sticky note or a mention on your daily “to-do’s” or go more elaborate with a framed piece of art that conveys an affectionate message or encouragement. Whatever it takes to remind yourself to hug or kiss your spouse is worth the investment and reminder!

2.  Enlist support – When you ask a same-sex friend to hold you accountable, you are more likely to remember to be affectionate, knowing your friend will be checking in with you regularly. And definitely ask your friend(s) to pray with and for you in this as well! Remember, “Where two or more are gathered …”

3.  Be affectionate in other ways – My husband loves when I write him love notes. I used to write him long letters filled with humor and creativity. Nowadays I’m juggling a lot of plates, but a quick text to let him know I’m thinking of him can remind him of my love. Check out a post I wrote a while back, 5 Texts You Should Send Your Spouse for more ideas on “what” to write. Don’t forget, scheduling regular date nights is another way to show affection as well as providing a perfect environment to be affectionate.

4.  Study affection – Jim Burn’s book, Creating and Intimate Marriage: Rekindle Romance through Affection, Warmth and Encouragement is a great place to begin your “studies.” His book is brimming with ideas on how to improve affection in your marriage, which in turn will increase your satisfaction in marriage. Now, who wouldn’t want that?

5.  Go to counseling – Sometimes there are deep-seated issues that hinder individuals from being affectionate with a spouse. These won’t go away without careful examination and challenge. If you struggle greatly in this area, this might be where you should start!

 

What tips do you have for increasing affection?

 

Does affection come easy for you and/or your spouse or is it a challenge?

 

If you have the time, click on the link to enjoy a 4-minute remake of the original Dave Matthews “Everyday” video – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3x4MbSUkvis

Photo by Marina Aguiar

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  • Funny, I was just bugging my husband today to give me a “real hug!” I’ve just starting coming right out and telling him what I want. It’s a lot easier than getting disappointed when he doesn’t deliver because it’s not in his nature to be affectionate. I don’t doubt he loves me. Great topic, Beth, and so important in marriage! Thanks for being open, as always!

    • Yes, it really does seem to be more of a “male” tendency, to not offer up hugs. I suppose my weakness in this area is why I was so attracted to my hubby, though. He’s always been so open about his affections and ready to snuggle or whatever! ha! I’m so glad you don’t doubt your husband’s love. I know my husband doesn’t doubt me or my love. He’s been so understanding and encouraging in this area over the years. I probably should write about his great track-record someday! Thanks so much for your kind words, Becky! Always love seeing you in the comments and in the link up!

  • mmm … way too easy to morph into that ‘creeping celibacy,’ yes?

    • Yes! It really can if we aren’t vigilant to keep our love lives growing and deepening. I’ve seen this in one too many a couple that I’ve worked with over the years. Unfortunately, they often don’t come to counseling until they are at a breaking point. Then it requires so much more than these strategies–with the exception of the last one–can do. Thanks so much for stopping by, Linda. I do so very much appreciate it and you!

  • waldenbunch

    Thanks for hosting each week, Beth, and sharing your heart on this important relationship. As my daughter (married all of 2 years) said tonight, “Marriage is just hard work!” Amen to that and to God who gives us chances to practice getting it right.

    • Sounds like your daughter is growing in wisdom as she rounds that second or third year! I always say to my boys that marriage will grow them up in ways they never would’ve expected. Thanks so much for encouraging me, my friend. I truly appreciate it!

  • Nan

    It comes easy for both of us (and our children too), we’re a very huggy family, lol! I was raised with lots of affection too. But my husband’s family grew more affectionate as my husband and his siblings grew older.

    When my oldest was around 14 I had stopped giving his as much physical hugs and kisses as I did his younger brother, because he was a teen and I felt he might not like it or was just “too old” for it. But then God convicted me.

    So I started to hug and kiss him again. I would walk by and give him a kiss on the cheek, or hug him and at first he was surprised and would say “What was THAT for” and I’d say “I just love you.”

    But after a couple of times I noticed a smile would creep onto his face, and I kept it up. Now it’s just very natural and he will give me a hug or a kiss goodnight or just hug me sometimes! Thanks for hosting today.

    • I can say that my family of origin grew more affectionate over the years too. I suppose God woke us up to the importance of it at some point. I love that you still kiss and hug your teen son. I kiss my youngest (17) on the head before he goes to bed and used to the other two (23, 20) until they recently opted for the more casual “good night, mom.” Maybe I shouldn’t give them the “out,” ya think? Great thoughts, Nan! I always love hearing from you at your blog and here in the comments too. 🙂

      • Nan

        Better a kiss on the head than a bop on the head, right? Lol! I always give mine a kiss goodnight on the cheek or forehead (whatever I can reach) when I go to bed if they’re home. Then I turn my cheek so they can give me a kiss on MY cheek! Don’t know if they mind or not, haha.

        Or if they’re going to bed first they usually will come out and give me a kiss on the cheek. My 24 year old son is getting married next month but he was away at college for years so I couldn’t kiss him goodnight then either, so I know I’ll get used to it.

  • Kim Adams Morgan

    We were always affectionate growing up. My Mom and Dad always said I love you and gave hugs and kisses, so this is a must for me. My husband is great at doing this. He is not a huge cuddle guy, but makes the time for me. Touch is one of my love languages. Thanks for hosting the link up.

    • That’s true for my husband as well–his love language is affection. So I try to keep this in mind as an incentive for overcoming my weakness. But sometimes I just wish I could flip a switch and it wouldn’t be such a struggle! But as I stretch and grow in this area, I’m certain my love is stretching and growing too. 🙂 Thanks for encouraging me, Kim!

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  • Affection flows easily at Longings End, Beth. We are big huggers and fairly evenly matched in the physical touch/affection area which makes it easy. I loved you tip about texting as we do that all the time especially when we are apart for the day. Thanks for hosting this great link up and for sharing from your heart the struggles faced…it so helps all of us to grow into better marriages. 🙂 Blessings and HUGS 😉 to you!!

    • That’s so good to hear, Sheila. I love being around a couple that openly displays their love and affection for each other. I’d say that means I’d love to be around you and your hubby as well! 🙂 Thanks for your kind words, my friend. I appreciate it every time you stop by!

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  • Nykiah

    My husband grew up the same way you did beth. He had to make huge adjustments to even handle my affectionate ways! There were times I’d praise him for something or kiss him randomly and he would stand there just looking at me. I always love reading here 🙂

    Blessings!

    • Ahh, so you know the challenges that come when a spouse isn’t as affectionate as he or she should be, Nykiah. Not everyone gets this. Some people simply think you can snap your fingers and change. I wish it were that easy! But I’m so glad to hear that you encourage your husband in this. I’m certain that’s making a difference in your marriage and his motivation. Thanks so much for adding to the discussion and your kind words to me, my friend!

  • My husband and my needs for affection could not be more polar opposite! And over the past five years we’ve been married, we’ve really had to learn to each die to our own “demands,” and in the process are moving towards one another in love to a happier middle ground. 🙂 He is now more mindful of my greater needs for affection, and I am mindful that affection doesn’t come naturally to him and that he “shouldn’t just know,” and thus am able to show him more grace in that area.

    Thanks for sharing! 🙂

    • It sounds as if you’ve really been understanding of one another–shifting to meet each other’s needs and differences. That’s such an art in marriage, Alice. So that makes you and your husband “artists!” 🙂 Thanks so much for weighing in with some very interesting thoughts. I’m so glad we’ve encountered each other in the vast blogging world.

  • Here is the comment worth the price of admission “since I don’t want to make excuses or be bound to my past”. When spouses are aware of their past, family systems, and lies formed in them they cannot help but love.

    • Yes, there’s all sorts of ways to love and stretching in this area, I hope, conveys the depth of my love even if it means I don’t always get it right the first time around. I didn’t mention this in my post, but my hubby is really understanding, patient and gracious with me in this area. I’ll have to do a “brag on him” post sometime! Thanks so much for stopping by and encouraging me, Scott! I appreciate it!

  • Lisa Raub

    It’s so important to express affection regularly. I know that I’m more touchy-feely than my husband, but he doesn’t mind that at all. 😉 Thank you so much for the reminders to express affection, and the great reads. I would love to read some of those sometime. You’re a blessing, Beth!

    • I’m glad to hear that you and your hubby have learned to adjust to the challenges in this area. It really can be hurtful if a spouse isn’t accepting or patient with the lack or abundance thereof. My husband has been so patient and accepting of me in this area which has really motivated me all along the way to do better for him. Thanks so much for you kind words to me, Lisa. Right back at ya!

  • Sherry Lechner Jennings

    Beth, what practical encouragement- so often we get so busy in our day to day that affection wanes. I’m making it a habit to drop everything when my hubby comes in the door and welcome him more enthusiastically than our dogs do. He loves it, it’s a reminder to me to love him like he needs it, too. 🙂 LOVE Messy Marriage and Wedded Wed- thanks for hosting the party!!

  • Great tips Beth! I grew up in a traditional African home, so physical affection was, well..negative zero lol. I am so glad God gave me an affectionate and kind husband! Cos i think am so needy!! 🙂 But really I’ve had to learn to give affection, not just receive it. It’s easy to just sit back and receive, not realizing that many people tend to give what they want to receive back. So am learning to be intentional and unselfish in this area.

  • Marie Steinhardt

    Hi Beth! Thanks for sharing! I grew up in a very affectionate family where hugs, kisses & “I love you” were the norm. My husband’s family is not this way, but with help from affectionate in-laws, they’re “warming up” to it. Steve is pretty giving with Hugs, hand-holding, etc. It’s so helpful for our spouses and kids to receive & see those very loving, positive moments. My girls love my hugs and kisses too!