I’d like to warn my husband that I’m unhappy enough that it could destroy us, but I’m not sure how to do it without an ultimatum. I’m unhappy with a general lack of affection, especially the G-rated kind. That bothers me all the more, like I’m only worth an effort when sex is involved.
We’ve had different versions of this conversation every few months for two years — everything from the serious and tearful, “I’m lonely,” to a joking, “Pay attention to me.” When I raise the subject, I’ll enjoy the sweet forehead kiss or random hug for a few days, but it never lasts.
It doesn’t seem fair to blindside him with a separation, but I don’t want to be a “do this or else” kind of wife and won’t stay in a lonely marriage.
His inability to show sustained affection contains essential information: His daily-affection set point is below what you want.
So, tweaking your original question: Knowing he’s not affectionate, what do you want next? To make one last request? To try living in the marriage for a while this is how it’s going to be?
Do you want to separate? There’s no “blindsiding” someone after eight discussions in the past two years. That’s a lot of notice. Say this, even. And: “I’ve run out of ways to ask. I also don’t think it’s fair for either of us to stay in a marriage where we’re being asked to be people we’re not.”
Before “seeya,” you can also say you’ve contemplated leaving over the affection problem and may still, but you want him to know this is how lonely you feel.
He’ll either change permanently or he won’t.