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How To Save An Affection-Starved Marriage (And Have A HAPPY Relationship)

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How to Deal with a Lack of Affection in Your Relationship!
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How to deal with a lack of affection in your relationship.

Affection can be one of the first things to go after children are born or when a marriage is in trouble. But it doesn’t have to mean something serious — and it can be naturally restored.

Why after children? Hundreds of couples have shared with me the affection they used to give to each other over time has been transferred to their children. Whilst this can easily happen, couples without children can go through periods of lack of affection, too.

Affection, for many people, is what makes a relationship a relationship.

If you are craving affection in your marriage right now and longing to be hugged, kissed, or given affection through caring words or "I love you" messages, you are not alone. Thousands, if not millions, of couples, may find themselves longing to be desired and cherished and it's often because of bad advice that never works.

If you're upset about a lack of affection in your marriage you may be feeling lonely, ignored, unimportant and unloved. You may have started to see you husband or wife as distant, cold, self-centered, or only interested in the children.

If this is happening in your relationship right now, read on as I will tell you what works and what doesn’t when it comes to saving a marriage from a lack of affection.

Marriage counselors or well-meaning friends may tell you to have a serious discussion with your spouse about how the lack of affection in your relationship is bothering you.

This relationship advice presumes that your spouse did not know that you like affection or forgot all of a sudden! Or maybe they did not realize or notice that they were not showing you affection.

But telling your husband or wife to be more affectionate never works. Perhaps you already know that from trying it in your own relationship. If anything, it can drive your husband or wife further away.

Having had this issue come up hundreds of times in the couples I’ve supported over the years,  here's what works and what doesn’t:

1. Stop bringing it up.

Talking about it, even just occasionally, will not get your husband or wife to change. Yet many relationship counselors may advise telling your spouse "You are not being affectionate."

It doesn’t matter whether you beg, demand, or joke, it never ever works in the long-term — or feel good to hear, for that matter.

Of course, your husband or wife may do it when you told them to, but if you've ever asked for affection and been given it on demand, you know what I'm talking about when I say that it feels horrible!

It used to make me feel more lonely when my boyfriend hugged or kissed me because I pressured him to. You want your spouse to be affectionate toward you because they want to.

It reminds me of how I used to be around my Nan when I was young. She would always hold our face in her hands and demand kisses and cuddles when we wanted to just say "hi" and run to her back garden and play. Or when your mom wants to kiss you good-bye in front of your friends before school. It felt forced.

If you are upset about a lack of affection, you're really longing to be desired.

By ordering affection, you may notice your spouse's reluctance to be affectionate with you. And when you notice that, it hurts... eally hurts!

I used to ask myself the dreadful question: "What’s wrong with me? Why am I so needy?"

Begging for affection feels terrible, even if your man or woman comply! So my advice is: don't do it.

It harms you and makes your partner run further away. Stop listening to the advice that tells you to complain and instead, see their lack of affection as a sign that perhaps they're not feeling loved either.

Even if you are being affectionate toward them, affection may not be big on their list of the ways they feel loved. Perhaps they need support in other areas, want love shown in a different way, or are resisting control.

Instead of telling them what to do or getting upset about something you cannot control (their behavior), practice making them happy and showing them love in different ways. For example, through appreciation, respect, space, thoughtful gestures, or gifts.

2. Avoid the lack of sex and affection trap.

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Dan (name changed) shared with me in an online consultation that he is not having sex as much as he’d like to, barely at all, and he felt frustrated about it. He complained that his wife is never in the mood and after being turned down, he no longer bothers to make the effort.

"I stopped trying all together Nicola, it was hard taking the constant rejection," he told me.

When I spoke to Lisa, his wife, she said was fed up with lack of affection.

"The only time he kisses or hugs me is when he wants sex. He will come up behind me when I'm washing the dishes or watching my favorite TV show and expect me to be all loving after he ignored me all day. By then anyway, I’m tired and fed up, so there is no way I’m getting intimate," she explained.

This example is so common it comes up almost weekly in my practice. One partner wants sex and isn’t getting it, so doesn’t feel like being affectionate. The other wants affection and withholds sex until they get it, so it becomes a vicious cycle.

Neither is feeling satisfied or close. To break it, one or ideally both need to give first. When couples do that, their relationship transforms.

3. Focus on what you can control: you and your happiness

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In a relationship, we can never control how someone acts as much as we would like to. Controlling behavior leads to distance, resistance, and shutdown.

Instead, if you focus on being happy, easygoing and fun, the flirting, and affection will normally follow.

Often when men or women confess to me that they know they have not been affectionate towards their spouse, it’s because they are stressed, dealing with a loss of some kind, or concerned about the relationship or future.

Rather than asking them to change, support them and aim to inspire them by being loving, happy, and full of energy and light yourself. By becoming more focused on your own happiness and self-care, you will become more attractive and can give them the space that they need.

Bottom line: Fretting about a lack of affection won’t help you save a marriage or make your marriage more affectionate. So focus on what you can control you and watch the stress release from you both.

Nicola Beer is a Relationship Transformation Specialist & Founder of The Save My Marriage Program. Get the FREE Report 7 Secrets to Saving Your Marriage and Learn How to Increase Love, Connection and Happiness as well as How to Overcome Your Marriage Problems. Download your free copy here.

This article was originally published at Save My Marriage Program. Reprinted with permission from the author.

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