Q. My husband never kisses me anymore. Oh, sure, there's a peck on the cheek when he leaves for work, but we used to be passionate kissers before we got married and had kids. He just laughs when I say it bothers me and reminds me that we're still having sex, so what's the problem?
A. The one gold nugget of advice that applies to every relationship is: If something is a problem for one of you, then it's a problem for both of you. Clearly, this is one of those times.
Kissing is probably an act you enjoy not just because it's a sensuous promise of more to come, but because it symbolizes your intimate connection. Without it, you're worried that something bigger has flown out of your life.
You're right to worry. "Even though your husband still wants sex, your instincts about his loss of passion are probably on target," says sex therapist Gerald Weeks, PhD, coauthor of Hypoactive Sexual Desire (W.W. Norton). "Passion does wane over time for men and women, especially with the stresses of parenthood. Yet many men will continue to have sex without it."
Stop nagging your husband about the kissing and have a serious heart-to-heart with him about your underlying worries. "Try normalizing the situation for him first," suggests Weeks. "Tell your husband that you understand men sometimes feel less desire after they see their wives become mothers. Then put the problem in a positive light by asking what both of you can do to revitalize your sexual relationship."
You might suggest regular date nights, for instance, as a way to stop feeling and acting like parents 24-7. Or your husband may reveal that he's resentful or angry about something, like the fact that he's working while you stay home with the kids. Addressing the larger issues together may well get him to be more affectionate because he won't be bottling up his feelings. "You may really need to press him on this issue," warns Weeks, "but don't give up. Your husband may avoid conversations about passion because he's afraid to admit he doesn't feel any. But it is an important part of most couples' relationship, and you'll both benefit from getting it back."
Holly Robinson is a writer outside of Boston.