Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: My husband is not very affectionate. He never has been, but I never considered it a deal-breaker.
Since we married in 2012, I have been wanting more affection, and we've talked about it many times. He says he's willing to be more affectionate, but never delivers. As a loyal reader, I know the next step: This is who he is, and he isn't willing to meet my affection needs for whatever reason. So, can I live with this?
The answer is yes, because I would rather have him in my life than leave him over this. But I'm having trouble getting over the feeling that, if I had known all this when we first started dating, I might have made a different choice. How do I reconcile that?
Answer: That you "can" live with it isn't the same as "want to" - just as not wanting to leave him differs from not wanting a life without him in it.
So which is driving you more: wanting him or not wanting upheaval?
If you're conscious of wanting him, then I suspect you'll be less troubled by what-ifs.
I don't think you'll put this entirely to rest, though, as long as you believe he wasn't the best choice for you. In that case, I suggest putting yourself in his place. Would you want you to tough it out, despite second-guessing your choice? Talk some more? Leave?
Can you project what he'd want?
This is more complicated than a unilateral can-I-live-with-it decision. This is about being married to someone who fundamentally disappoints you. He should have his say, so I suggest you shift the conversation from "I want more affection" to "You don't give the affection I want, so what's the next step?"
Other thoughts from readers:
Speaking as an often obtuse husband: She might have to be the one to say, "Hey, give me a hug."
It also depends on what she means by not affectionate. Not wanting to hold hands in public is a lot easier to get used to than never wanting sex.
If he rejects your overtures, that's a bigger problem than if he welcomes them, but doesn't initiate.
Question: My first (very visceral) reaction to your answer was, "Oh my, having him in my life makes it so much better."
And he is affectionate when I initiate. I just wish he would initiate. There are times I am just overwhelmed by how much I love him, and I want to express that. So I think I interpret his lack of affection to mean he doesn't share the same feelings.
Answer: Aha! "Interpret"? That's what you can fix, without another Conversation.
Don't compare him to you! We all show affection differently. Please open your mind to the way he shows his.
Responding to your overtures is big. Does he also listen well and support you? Is he kind? Does he cook for you, or praise your cooking? Does he take on chores you hate? Is he giving in ways you take for granted?
Open your eyes, ears, and heart to what fuels your visceral love, instead of dwelling on this one specific thing.