By: Richard Nicastro, Ph.D.
Affection is an important part
of any loving relationship—it is the verbal and physical expression
of the love, warmth and caring you and your partner feel for each
other. To maintain a healthy relationship, couples should find ways
to increase the affection quotient of their relationship.
Ongoing displays of affection feed your marriage or relationship and
keep it strong.
Unfortunately, too many couples fall prey to
affection-complacency. They simply stop making an effort to
communicate their positive, loving feelings and at some point their
marriage or relationship experiences an affection deficit.
While all relationships go through peaks and valleys, relationships
that suffer from affection deficits become lifeless over time—it's
as if the bridge that joins you and your partner has been torn down
and you exist on separate islands miles apart, isolated from the
love you used to share.
Warning signs of an affection deficit
1. There is no spark of playfulness between you
By its very nature, the energy of playfulness includes affection.
When playfulness is abandoned, your marriage or relationship can
begin to look and feel like a formal business luncheon. This also
occurs when couples begin to take each other too seriously and can
no longer laugh at the absurdities of life together.
2. There are little or no displays of mutual gratitude
Acts of gratitude make your spouse/partner feel cared for and
appreciated. The positive impact mutual, spoken gratitude has on
your marriage or relationship cannot be overstated. Every act of
gratitude is an expression of love and caring that strengthens your
3. Communication mostly centers on the mundane
Sure you have to figure out who's picking up Johnny from preschool,
if there is enough money to cover this month's expenses and what's
for dinner, but when interactions only center on the practicalities
and stresses of life, your relationship is probably experiencing an
4. There is little or no touch between you
Touch is a powerful form of non-verbal communication that feeds
emotional intimacy and demonstrates affection. Research shows that
infants and children who lack physical stimulation fail to
thrive—and the need for touch doesn't stop once you've entered
adulthood. Don't overlook the affection-boost touch can infuse into
5. You talk negatively about your partner to others
The way you speak about your spouse/partner (or fail to talk about
him/her) to others can impact your relationship. When you make a
conscious effort to represent your partner (and your relationship)
in a positive light, you heighten feelings of affection (even when
these feelings may be lacking); and conversely, when you feed
negativity by complaining about your partner to your friends and
family, you further an affection deficit.
In other words, what you choose to focus on becomes a greater
influence in your life and relationship. Because it puts you in a
beneficial mindset and helps remind you of your partner's admirable
attributes, invoking positive, affectionate feelings while
discussing your partner will positively impact your marriage or
While the above list isn't exhaustive, as you can see, there are
clear warning signs that your marriage or relationship is tipping
toward an affection deficit. However, an affection deficit can be
stopped and reversed. The first step is to become conscious of these
signs and then make the commitment to reverse the patterns of
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Richard Nicastro, Ph.D. is a psychologist and relationship coach
with fifteen years experience helping individuals and couples live
more fulfilling lives. His relationship advice has appeared on
television, radio and national magazines.