Dear Annie: Am I doomed to spend my life starved of affection?

Miss Manners answers a question about whether to wish a happy anniversary to an unhappy couple

We get along in almost every way.

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Dear Annie: My wonderful wife and I have been married for 40-plus years. We get along in almost every way, except needing affection.

I am medically retired, unable to work or drive; she works full-time and will retire in three years.

My problem is that when she gets home, she is not in the mood for giving or receiving affection. I hate to mention it to her, as she has a fragile sense of self-worth and will look on this as being another instance where she is not good enough. For the record, I always hold her up.

I would give anything to be able to spend time holding her in my arms and cuddling. We used to have this, but when I left the workforce eight years ago, this all went away.

I love my wife but am afraid of spending the rest of my life starved for affection. What in the world can I do? I’m dying inside! -- Needing Affection

Dear Needing Affection: Have you told your wife about your needs? There is a wonderful book by Gary Chapman called the “The Five Love Languages.” In the book, he describes five ways that people receive and express love in a relationship. These are words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and receiving gifts. Knowing your partner’s love language and letting them know yours is a way to help you both feel loved and appreciated.

Maybe you and your wife could each read the book and figure out what her love language is. Yours is clearly physical touch, but maybe hers is something you’re not even aware of. Expressing your needs and listening to your wife’s needs will be an important step in rekindling the closeness you used to feel.

Annie  Lane

Stories by Annie Lane

“How Can I Forgive My Cheating Partner?” is out now! Annie Lane’s second anthology -- featuring favorite columns on marriage, infidelity, communication and reconciliation -- is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to


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