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Silhouette of a husband and wife kissing in front of a big Valentine Heart.

[Dear Dr. Ray, we are parents with teenage children. We have known each other for years; we love each other, we are comfortable with each other, but there is little affection. Is this normal?  – Something is Missing] Of course, lack of affection typically reflects the relationship’s overall temperature. As the atmosphere cools, affection slips into hibernation. Then again, sometimes a marriage isn’t all that cold. Affection, like compliments, chills from lack of effort.

Poll a hundred couples, and a majority, I anticipate, would prefer more physical warmth. I doubt anyone would complain, “There is way too much touching, hugging, and kissing between us. It’s getting old. I think it’s actually hurting our deeper emotional connection.” No matter how much affection embraces our marriage, most of us would welcome more.

An unpopular rule of life states, if you want more of something, you may have to give more of it. A more unpopular rule of life states, changing oneself is easier than changing someone else. Blending these rules, if you’re one who wants more touches, physical or emotional, you might have to reach out first.

Resistance Rationale #1: “I’m not an affectionate person.” You don’t need to be. Smothering your mate with smooches isn’t the goal. Every step is meant to be within anyone’s reach.

When a husband says, “That’s not who I am,” most of the time he’s actually saying, “That’s not consistently who I am.” Almost never does he mean, “Under no circumstances do I ever deviate from my normal pattern.”

If you’re not affectionate, do you never touch anyone? How about your mother? A little baby? Your pet cat? No doubt you shake hands. Most likely you exchange some personal signs of friendship. Some touch is acceptable, initiated even, for nearly everyone under chosen circumstances.

Ask yourself, “At one time did I touch more?” If yes, that raises another question: Which is you, then or now? If you were more expressive then, were you living counter to your personality? Or, did you genuinely feel warm about touching? If so, the old you is the real you. Presently you may not be acting affectionate, but that doesn’t mean you’re not an affectionate person.

Excerpt from: Marriage: Small Steps, Big Rewards, pages 125-129. Copyright © Dr. Ray Guarendi, Servant Books.

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