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How to Get Affection Back Into Your Marriage

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Over time, you and your spouse can lose the fire that fed your desire for affection and sexual union, according to marriage and relationship therapist Dr. Lisa Firestone, Ph.D., on her PsychAlive website. Your comfort with one another and complacency can squash the spontaneity, energy and independence that caused you to hunger for one another when your relationship was young. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to get it back.

Recapture the Spark

Stir the affection and spark in your relationship by trying and sharing new experiences, suggests Firestone. Communicate about your feeling and thoughts in ways that give reveal new insights to your partner. Maintain individuality and separate interests that keep you novel and interesting to your partner and incorporate emotional closeness and vulnerability to your interactions. Demonstrate care about your appearance and how you treat your spouse -- just as you did when you were dating.

Male and Female Affection Perspectives

A woman sees affection as an expression of care, protection, comfort, approval, concern and a symbol of the security her mate offers, according to Dr. Willard J. Harley, Jr., in his book, “His Needs, Her Needs: Building an Affair-Proof Marriage.” Affection and sexual intimacy are two different things to her. Men see affection as an avenue to sex. Husbands need to understand there is little to no sex without affection, advises Harley, because giving sex to get affection creates resentment. Ask your spouse what actions convey affection and begin to doing those things to increase affection.

Affection in Action

Handholding, hugs, kisses and loving touches are signs of affection, but not the only ones, writes Harley. You communicate affection when you give a gift, write a love note, send a loving text, call your spouse to check in or take time to listen. Demonstrate affection with random acts of kindness such as bringing your spouse a cool drink on a hot day, taking her out to dinner so she doesn’t have to cook or making sure the coffee is ready when he gets up. These actions can increase the amount of physical affection and sexual desire in your relationship.

Fanning the Flames

Distance, novelty, mystery, danger and power exchange can flame sexual passion, according to marriage and family therapist Dr. Shirley Glass in “When Sexual Desire Disappears.” Let your spouse be in charge of creating a fantasy date in a new location doing something you haven’t done before, maintaining the mystery until date time. Relax, have fun, communicate and be flexible in your definition of affection and how you get your physical intimacy, suggests psychotherapist Tina Tessina, Ph.D., in “Why Couples Fall out of Love.” Hug, kiss, help with the dishes and the kids, tell her how beautiful she looks and cuddle with her without expecting sex and she might surprise you by instigating a passionate interaction.

References

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

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