Has Your Marriage Lost Its Affection?

The morning began like any other: snuggles, breakfast, coffee, schoolwork, chores.

Mid-morning, my son was reviewing his list of words for the day, which focused on the short “i” sound. After reading each word, I asked him to use it in a sentence to make sure he was connecting the sounded-out letters with real-world meanings.

Has Your Marriage LOST Its Affection? // jessconnell.com // ever get in a rut? Want motivation to be your husband's loving, affectionate companion?

He got to the word “kiss,” and looked at me, with a grin:

“Mommy and Daddy kiss all the time.”

Then he said, “Well, you do! I see you guys…”

As his toothless grin widened, I was grinning too. Because, honestly? It made me happy that he notices, and that he perceives that as his “normal.”

ARE YOU AFFECTIONATE, ON PURPOSE?

Now, I need to level with you. We do kiss a lot. I still really, really, really like– and love– my wonderful husband.

But sadly, there are also a LOT of days when the affectionate kisses that used to be normative have unfortunately been reduced to a peck on the cheek as one of us runs out the door.

This is something I still need to be purposeful about. And I bet you do, too? It’s so easy to fall into routine interactions.

WHEN WE SAY GOODBYE

Difficult goodbyes with passionate kisses in our early days together, later become “bye!” with a quick kiss. At some point, if we’re not intentional, that will turn into even less affectionate partings— with no kisses, and maybe no words spoken at all. A head nod, wave, or quick, “see ya!” may become normative.

Now, I’m not advocating that the passionate partings of our first week of marriage set the standard for what “goodbye” should look like when we’ve been married 5, 15, or 50 years. But it illustrates: as the years progress, we are apt to SLIDE into a lack of passion.

However, the truth is this: we are not relegated to an affection-less, mundane coexistence after a certain number of years together.

In fact, the Bible tells older women to teach younger women:

"to love their husbands" (Titus 2:4)

This specific Greek usage of love, “philandros,” is not used anywhere else in the New Testament. It refers specifically to an affectionate, friendly, companion-type of love… it evokes the picture of a wife who likes to be with her husband, and is affectionately welcoming toward him.

And this is something that OLDER women in the church are to be practicing and doing in such a way that the younger women could/should learn from them.

  • FOR OLDER WOMEN, this is a challenge: Is your marriage affectionate? Do you share warm, welcoming companionship?
  • FOR YOUNGER WOMEN, this is a challenge: be intentional!! Don’t let your marriage slip into routine, joyless interactions!

FOR ALL OF US, it’s a reminder:

Smile! Kiss! Connect! Be your husband’s affectionate companion!

HOW CAN YOU DO BETTER, TODAY?

No matter where you’re at as a couple with your affection, what can you do today to infuse passion and delight into your interactions?

  • If you normally just say “goodbye,” let me challenge you to forcer yourself to stand up, walk over, and give your husband a hug, kiss, and/or quick shoulder squeeze when you part today.
  • If you normally just say “bye,” tell him “I love you. I hope you have a great day!” Don’t just say goodbye… encourage him with words and smiles as he starts his day or heads out for an appointment.
  • If you normally just peck a quick kiss, let me challenge you to pull him closer and kiss him in a way he’ll feel all the way down to his toes. :)

OR:

  • How about pulling him close and welcoming him with a kiss “hello” at the end of the day?

What can YOU do differently today to increase the level of affection in your marriage?

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Jess Connell

Jesus-follower, Happy wife, Mom of 8 neat people. Former world-traveler, now settled in Washington. Host of Mom On Purpose podcast (momonpurpose.com). I write and wrangle kids.

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20 Responses

  1. Jessica says:

    I would love for this to work in our marriage! Seriously it sounds like my dream come true and how many times I’ve told my husband that I want to kiss him at home like this. He doesn’t let me do any more than a peck on his cheek or lips. He won’t allow anything more than a peck. He is not affectionate in front of the kids. I do hug him as much as I can. I initiate as much as possible in bed and sometimes he will initiate but mostly he is a once or maybe a twice a week guy and I’m needing to be ok with it. He just isn’t as interested as I am and he doesn’t like when I try to surprise him with romance. He wants to be more in charge and he wants to be the one who decides more. Just so that if another woman is in my shoes there are guys like this. I think maybe it was what he was used to in his family background with his parents. My parents kissed more than a peck in front of us but his must not have. So I will just try to love him how he wants to be loved and more power to ya for those who can enjoy more often passionate kisses! :)

    • Jess Connell says:

      I still think the overarching principle applies, though, right? …where you work to be warm, affectionate, and welcoming toward your husband, even if that “looks” different than it does in someone else’s home/marriage. It doesn’t have to look like passionate kisses… especially if it never has (though it could!), but it ought to look like what feels welcoming and affectionate to him.

  2. Laura says:

    Well…. this morning my husband came in our bedroom to say ‘leaving for work, love you’ and kissed me on the cheek. I THINK I may have grunted in response, if that?? lol Let’s just say I couldn’t muster the energy for much more. Hahaha. Oh well something to work on I guess.

  3. Kondwani says:

    Is there a difference between affection and passion? We certainly share warm companionship, and normally (unless something has gone wrong) will send one another off to work with a kiss and a kind word. But I don’t always feel passionate. I’ve read other posts of yours on this area, and I understand there is a need to be intentional; but at times that can start to feel dutiful rather than much more. But we are most certainly best of friends, and support and encourage one another daily – I believe that for the most part we model a good marriage to our children (and my husband apologises to both me and to the children if he has raised his voice, which I think teaches the children a lot about the fact we are fallible and need forgiveness as much as they)

    • Jess Connell says:

      Yes, I think there is… and yet, there isn’t.

      The idea I’m writing about here isn’t that we all become lusty, busty women imitating a porn-saturated world with its images and actions. However, I do think there is a right passion & affection that ought to characterize a godly marriage.

      There is one godly way for my husband to be sexually delighted and physically connected with– and that is me. So then. Companionship and friendship are WONDERFUL… but I do think it’s important that we be clear that this particular affection, between a husband and wife, goes beyond just roommate/friendship/mutual support. It ought to be that. Emotional support. Connectedness. Care for one another. And yet it should be more. Else, why marry? Paul makes the case– one reason for marriage is “if you burn”… there is a physical passion & connectedness that is unique to marriage and I believe intertwined with this idea of affection and companionship.

      To isolate one or the other makes for either a lust-filled marriage without care & concern for one another, or makes a friendship without physical connectedness. I think it’s both/and.

      What do you think?
      (And I realize, too, I’m taking this down a slightly different path than where the initial comment went…)

  4. Kondwani says:

    Jess, I agree it does need both, and maybe like many things, there are times when the split is not a perfect 50:50 between the two aspects. And I have to giggle at the idea of ever becoming ‘lusty busty’ because I can’t imagine such an occurrence. (But in seriousness, I do take your point!)

    • Jess Connell says:

      :) Glad it made you giggle. I don’t think there’s anything wrong (AT ALL) with sexual passion (AKA in silly Jess terms “lusty-busty”ness)… in fact, as I’ve shared before, I love the sexual part of our relationship, and believe sexual connectedness is a significant, wonderful, God-given part of the marriage relationship. :) But, yeah. I’m glad to make you giggle even while making a point. :)

  5. Myrielle says:

    That makes me wonder… Am I affectionate? I think so, but maybe not enough or maybe not the way he needs to. Well, let’s just say I now have a whole lot to think about lol!

    • Jess Connell says:

      Good! My goal in writing here is to provoke thought that leads to action in real life!

      Sometimes what feels “affectionate” to women may not feel affectionate to men, and vice-versa. I think the greatest happiness in marriage comes when we seek to SPEAK the language our husband “hears”, and “hear” the language our husband is speaking.

  6. Wendy says:

    Here I am today. No kiss, hug or anything else in a year and a half. He tells me he is busy. For years, I tried to overcome his lack of affection. I kept telling myself just try one more time, it might click. It has not and my self esteem was nearly ruined from constantly being turned away. It tears you apart to give and get nothing back. EVER. One day he turned me away and that was it, I was done. I cannot initiate affection towards him. I feel like I will die if I am rejected again. So without my effort, it has been a year and a half with nothing. I feel nothing, its like something died the last time he turned me away. He feels no loss of anything. I have given and given and given. I am empty. The kids are teens and they see it. I thought I was doing the right thing staying for them but I was wrong. It is not good for teens to see the lack of affection. I never want them to be this way. I’m not sure they have ever seen him kiss me.

    • Jess Connell says:

      I’m so sorry, Wendy. That sounds incredibly painful.

      Assuming that he is a believer, have you come to him in the spirit of Matthew 18? This is not “busyness” or “lack” or “turned away”… this is “sin” against his wife. This would be something that I would encourage you to pray about in regard to your attitude as you approach him… pray for his heart to be changed… for repentance (turning away from sin and toward obedience) to take place in his heart, and for him to respond and learn new patterns. But ultimately this should be confronted and dealt with. 1 Corinthians 7 makes it clear that his body does not belong to him only… it belongs to you! This part of marriage, and it’s part that you both signed up for. If he does not respond to your first appeal (and I would encourage you to do this step now, not say, “well, we’ve talked about it before…”) Instead, take it seriously and bring him biblical rebuke alongside your loving but straightforward appeal). I’d encourage you to make your language very direct and respectful. “I’m coming to you in the spirit of Matthew 18 because this is sin. It is causing bitterness in my heart, and this is my attempt to fight bitterness in my own heart while rightfully identifying your sins against me as sin, and asking for you to repent and change. I want to do this together. I want to help you. I don’t want to live this way. I don’t want our children to grow up thinking this is normal.” I would also strongly encourage you to ask if there is sin that you have committed against him that has produced bitterness or lack of affection in his heart. Listen carefully. Press on this point, if need be. He may be reticent if yours is a marriage where things have been swept under the rug for years on in. Ask for the opportunity to hear from him in truth so that you can confess and repent from your own sin.

      If he is not a believer, I would counsel you to (as much as is within your power) do him only/ever kindly, pray pray pray pray pray pray pray, don’t shut yourself off, and keep lovingly pursuing him.

      You are right that it is not good for your kids to see the lack of affection. But the only other answer, then, is not the opposite of “staying” (leaving– which you didn’t name but implied by raising that point)… the answer is the confronting, loving, firm, wise rebukes of Scripture and of the church that are meant to hem your marriage in on all sides.

      If he does not respond to your loving and respectful appeal, then there is a process laid out in Matthew 18: 15-20 whereby believers are rebuked, confronted, and disciplined by the church. The next step would be to perhaps go to your pastor, and perhaps a man in the church that your husband will respect and listen to, and share these things with the two of them, and return to him with them. You are not alone. You are not meant to live life as if you are. The Body of Christ, and the authority of the elders, exists for this very reason– to support and correct the Body as we walk the path of Christ.

      • Jessica says:

        This is very wise counsel that Jess shared. I would pray for accountability in his life and other men to encourage him. But do prayerfully open up the communication and pray for his heart daily. There is hope.

    • Jessica says:

      Wendy, my heart is so sad for you and I am asking Father God to comfort your heart in a deep supernatural way with His embrace and to give you EVERYTHING your heart needs from Him. I pray that He gives you wisdom and strength to walk the path He is calling you down and that His words of comfort are your strength and light in dark times. May He hold you so close in His arms. His embrace is real and when your earthly husband is so difficult to love and so distant how much more do you need God’s embrace. Father please cover Wendy in Your comfort and presence. Fill her with Your love. Let her taste and see how good you are to those who are suffering and alone. Know that Father understands your lack and pain perfectly and He hates it when people treat others like that esp. in marriage. His heart breaks for you.

      • Wendy says:

        Thank you but I have spent many years praying, reading books about marriage etc. No change, it has only gotten worse. I no longer change clothes in front of him. We have moved to a friends relationship. We get along fine, as friends. I have gone from hurt to numb to angry to nothing. I no longer see us going back to an intimate relationship- too much time has passed. He is like a friend now. I know that part is over. I just don’t know where to go from here.

        • Jessica says:

          He sounds like he is a very broken man and has some deep woundings and I can only imagine how painful this is wounding you and has wounded you. I pray that God gives your heart courage and encouragement in God’s love for you even in the midst of a very painful marriage. There is always hope in God maybe your husband will or won’t change but God’s faithfulness you can bank on. I’m so sorry for this pain. May the Lord heal your heart from this wound. The Lord is our Jehovah Rapha the God who heals our hearts. He binds up the broken hearted.

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