Dear Is This Normal,

Let me start by saying I love my husband. He’s a great partner and father, and even though we have ups and downs just like anyone else, we’re still happy together after all these years. But if there’s one thing about him that bugs me, it’s that he’s not romantic. At all. Not only that, but he doesn’t seem to understand when I need physical comfort that’s not sexual. Every time I go in for a hug or a cuddle, just to have some intimacy and physical closeness, he uses it as an opportunity to grope my breast or grab my butt. It’s really starting to bother me that he doesn’t seem to understand/care about my needs. Is it normal to feel upset or disappointed when my husband gropes my breast instead of just hugging me?

Sincerely,

I just want a hug

Dear Hug,

Ugh, whyyyyyyyyyy can’t they just learn to READ THE ROOM sometimes?! A hug between a husband and wife is not always an invitation to cop a feel, ffs. This  would annoy the crap out of me too! Intimacy in a relationship is super important.

Intimacy is about more than just sex – it’s hugging each other, trusting each other, confiding in each other. Honestly, it sounds like your husband needs a little help in this particular area! I don’t for a second think this makes him a bad guy or a bad husband. But some guys (and gals!) need help understanding that not everything is sexual.  Mama—it’s time to set some boundaries and talk to him about the difference between intimate and sexual touch.

If you haven’t already, the first thing you need to do is tell you husband how you feel. Explicitly tell him that it bothers you that you need companionship and he takes it to a different level. There’s a really good chance he has absolutely no idea. Some men just really don’t. Now, if you HAVE told him all of this and he still continues to do it, well, that’s a horse of a different color and a topic for another (much longer, much sterner) discussion. But I’m going to give him the benefit of the doubt here and operate under the assumption that he literally doesn’t know what he’s doing annoys and bothers you.

Once you’ve done that, it’s time to set some boundaries. I love boundaries! We are all entitled to agency over our own bodies and emotions, and not nearly enough of us enforce that. Being married doesn’t mean you give up your agency. Until your husband understands how you feel you need to set AND enforce those boundaries  yourself. 

Now, what that looks like will be dependent on you and your relationship. It can be as simple as telling him he isn’t allowed to grope your breasts or butt without your consent. It can mean that you are in charge of initiating sexual contact for the time being. Or it can mean that you both come up with a certain code word or action that says, “Yep, I’m feeling some kind of way, you’ve got the green light!” This can actually be kinda hot? Imagine giving your husband the look or whispering the code word in his ear when you’re at the grocery store or a birthday party. That kind of anticipation is crazy sexy. But there definitely need to be some boundaries here, for the both of you.

Finally, talk to your man about how important it is for you to have intimacy and romance in your relationship. I get it—you get married, have some kids, and it’s the first thing to go. But it doesn’t have to be! We could all probably use some help on how to be more romantic. And non-sexual touching (a hug, a hand placed on their leg while you’re watching TV, holding hands, a back rub) is a great way to build intimacy and show your partner how to use romance in your relationship.

I really think that by communicating and enforcing your boundaries, you and your husband can nip this behavior in the bud. Either that or he’ll get the hint when you start swatting his hand away like you do when your kids reach for another cookie. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come to that!

Hug It Out,

Is This Normal

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