6 Simple Ways to Show Your Spouse Affection When You Don't Feel Like It

Amanda Idleman

Contributing Writer
Published Jan 18, 2024
6 Simple Ways to Show Your Spouse Affection When You Don't Feel Like It

Marriage is a vow to stay by each other's side for better and worse. While we know it's our job to show our spouse the love of God, it's not always easy to do that! We each face ups and downs that affect our mood, demeanor, and availability. When life is tough for our partners, the stress they are experiencing can make them harder to be around. The reflex we must avoid is retreating and avoiding being with them.

The same is true for ourselves; as we navigate seasons of burnout, fatigue, and more, our motivation to love our partner well with grace and affection can wane. This is normal in marriage. We all face seasons where we aren't as close as we'd like to be. What's important is that we recognize these times and do our best to intentionally bridge the gap you've seen growing between you.

The urgent things around us can so easily suck up all our effort, time, and emotional bandwidth. In marriage, the struggle is to be intentional about choosing to love and see each other in every session. This requires a lot of grace, so much humility, and a lot of forgiveness. Thankfully, with God's help, we can stay in love and remain affectionate towards each other. He is our strength even when we feel weak.

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1. Be Patient with Your Partner

One of the hardest things to do when you start feeling stressed, overwhelmed, and at odds is to be patient! When we start not wanting to be loving towards each other, it becomes super easy for tiny disagreements to escalate into significant disputes. The best thing we can offer each other when the tension is rising in our relationship is patience. It's also probably the last thing we want to do!

Generally, we do want what's best for our families, even at our worst. If we offer each other the benefit of the doubt when we aren't seeing eye to eye, we allow space for empathy to grow between us. If I decide not to jump to conclusions, I can better consider why my husband is behaving in a way that repels me. Usually, he really is not trying to harm me, but when I'm quick to judge, it's easy to jump to unfavorable conclusions about his behavior.

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2. Take Time to Listen

The next loving gift we can give each other is a listening ear. When we aren't on the same page, chances are high that we haven't truly taken the time to hear each other out. The most loving thing we can do in these moments is to lay down our right to have the first or the last word. We have set aside our own opinions so we can be available to truly listen to our spouse.

Being heard is a powerful way to break down walls in a relationship! We all desire to be seen and still loved. We can completely disagree but still feel loved by our partner when we know that our spouse still wants to hear us out.

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3. Offer Your Spouse a Thoughtful Gift

When we feel too tapped out for other kinds of affection, a simple way to show our spouse love is through a thoughtful gift. This gesture is a chance to communicate that your partner is a priority even if you are tired, busy, and unable to show affection in other ways. It can be something as simple as getting up before them in order to prepare their favorite beverage. Saying 'I love you' through a gift is mostly about the gesture and less about the actual item given.

These tiny, unspoken gestures of love can help bring you as a couple closer together. When we aren't feeling connected, we often need a bridge to be rebuilt between us. That selfless gesture of care can close the gap between you and your other half without even having to use words.

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4. Plan a Date Night

I've found that the number one reason I do not feel like loving my husband is because I haven't seen him! That seems crazy because we live in the same house, but I'm sure I'm not the only one that suffers from a lack of time with your partner. It feels like our days seem to zip by, and we spend most days in divide-and-conquer mode. I am home during the day with the kids while my husband works; when he gets home, we divide up to take the kids to sports while the other one is home to get the toddlers to bed early, and then by the time we both are home in the same space without the kids around we are exhausted. We fall asleep sometimes without saying more than one full thought to each other.

I've realized we have to be diligent about planning uninterrupted time together; that isn't after 9 pm when I'm so worn out I've lost all motivation to attempt to fill my husband in on my thoughts and concerns. We have to prioritize time together! Now, we make sure to put at least one date night on the calendar a month. That's not enough, but it's something! Take a step towards your partner and plan time to be with them.

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Happy couple kiss husband and wife

5. Offer Them a Gentle Touch

When tensions are high, coming in for a big hug or kiss may not be received well. Yet, there is healing power when we offer each other physical affection. Find a gentle way to let your partner know you care through touch. This could be a pat on the arm, holding hands, or a gentle hug. It's really, really hard to stay upset with each other after a long, gentle hug.


Note: The views and opinions expressed in this program are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Crosswalk.

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6. Pray for Your Marriage

One way we can love each other well is to lift our marriage up in prayer. When our spouse knows we are seeking the Lord on their behalf, walls begin to come down. They see that you are not passive about ensuring your marriage is a place where love and affection can abound. Not to mention, the Holy Spirit is our advocate, helper, and guide. When we invite him into our marriage, he opens our hearts towards healing, unity, and affection when we are struggling to feel it. Our prayers change the way we see marriage. This union is not just about the two of you; it's about your promise to God together. He is the one that strengthens you when life together gets hard. It's his love that we draw on in order to maintain a healthy marriage. We need God on our side to keep our hearts open towards each other through the good and the bad.

There is no formula for how to best show affection. What matters is that we are willing to keep putting ourselves out there for the sake of our marriages. The most dangerous thing we can face in our relationships is apathy. When we stop caring, the Devil can easily divide our home. Commit to showing each other love and care, no matter how you feel.

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Amanda Idleman is a writer whose passion is to encourage others to live joyfully. She writes devotions for My Daily Bible Verse Devotional and Podcast, Crosswalk Couples Devotional, the Daily Devotional App, she has work published with Her View from Home, on the MOPS Blog, and is a regular contributor for Crosswalk.com. She has most recently published a devotional, Comfort: A 30 Day Devotional Exploring God's Heart of Love for Mommas. You can find out more about Amanda on her Facebook Page or follow her on Instagram.

Originally published Friday, 19 January 2024.