How to Deal With Different Levels of Affection in a Marriage

by Katrina Miller
The habit of affection provides physical, emotional, and behavioral benefits to couples.

The habit of affection provides physical, emotional, and behavioral benefits to couples.

If you approach different levels of affection in marriage in a proactive manner, your marital relationship will be a "school of love.” There are many reasons why your spouse may show a higher or lower level of affection than yourself, including the quality of your attachment styles, communication, individual coping skills, and health status. The habit of affection can help your attachment to each other become more secure and improve coping behaviors and physical and emotional health.

Love the practical ways that your spouse shows affection. A study in the November 2012 edition of "Personality and Social Psychology" identified that men often demonstrate caring by initiating sex, sharing leisure activities, or doing household work with their wives. Women often show caring by being positive and toning down their antagonistic behaviors.

Smooch often. Romantic kissing more often was demonstrated to increase relationship satisfaction and decrease both stress and cholesterol levels according to a study published in the April-June issue of "Western Journal of Communication"

Pursue your spouse for leisure and companionship. Research in the May edition of "Journal of Personality and Social Psychology" demonstrated that the more men and women pursue each other, the higher their sexual desire for each other.

Care for your spouse's needs without expecting to be rewarded. An article in the May 2013 edition of "Social Psychology and Personality Science" reported that people who care for their partner's needs without expecting immediate returns had more sexual desire at both the beginning and end of a four-month study than those who expected a reward for caring.

Express gratitude. Expressing gratitude to your partner can improve your spouse's appreciation of you as well as his or her openness in communicating with you, according to research published in the April 2010 edition of Psychological Science .

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  • Some men and women require higher levels of either emotional or sexual contact than what can be provided comfortably by their partner. Others may feel a repulsion to sexual or emotional attempts to engage. If this is happening in your relationship, think about getting help from professionals.
  • Some avenues that people use to communicate affection may stop functioning during a lifetime, such as sexual organs, motor skills, or brain processes. Affection, however, can be be communicated in so many ways that couples are usually able to maintain affection for each other.
  • Many people are afraid of being rejected when they try to be affectionate. You or your partner may not be ready for affection at the same time, and somebody may get rebuffed. While that may feel like rejection, it is a normal part of relationships. Do not let it discourage you from continuing to nurture an atmosphere of affection. Rather, communicate with your partner about what could go better next time or just accept that there are times that two of you have differing needs.

About the Author

Katrina Miller is a medical writer specializing in behavioral health. She has been published in "Family Perspectives" and the "Salt Lake Tribune." She has a doctoral degree in Family and Human Development from Utah State University.

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