It’s not really a cold shoulder

NASA staffperson hug
Image via Wikipedia

So, who’s the cuddly one in your dyad?

Here’s an interesting advice column from one of my former employers, the national Canadian daily The Globe and Mail, on the issue of a non-cuddly husband.

Typical of Globe stories, this one has 298 (!!) comments.

I wanted to blog this because, in my marriage, I’m the dude, the one much less comfortable with emotions, expressing tender feelings, being cuddly and saying “I love you.”

When Jose and I started dating 12 years ago, I quickly noticed this, and often joked that he’s the girl and I’m the guy in this respect. He always wanted to talk about our relationship, to share his feelings, to feel validated by my listening attentively to them.


It’s not that I didn’t love him. But I come from a pretty frosty family, hardly unusual among educated WASPs, especially Canadians, (some of whose British stiff-upper-lip-ness affects all aspects of life, from work to medical treatment.)

It’s not easy at midlife to radically alter your emotional style, even when you know it’s a good idea.

I’m grateful Jose is as accepting of me as he is. As I’ve written about here, I spent most of my childhood at boarding school and summer camp, starting at the age of eight. I didn’t see my Dad that much as he traveled a lot and he and my mother were divorced by then.

When I hear people chirp “Love you!” into their cellphones, I wonder how it comes so easily to them.

So I learned, young, to keep my softer emotions hidden and in check. There was little reason to hug a ferocious, scolding housemother!

Jose, who is Hispanic, grew up in a loving and intact family, with a Mom who was thrilled to have him — surprise! — when she was 49. I keep a photo of him as a small baby on my computer, his Mom holding his tiny hand as he stands on their piano bench, as they both look so totally delighted with one another.

I never got a chance to meet her, as she and his Dad died decades ago. But her abundant love perfumes my every day through her loving son. At our wedding reception, in September 2011, I toasted Gregorita and thanked her for the spirit of affection that Jose so embodies and shares, with me and with others

He freely and easily says “I love you” a lot. He hugs and kisses. He holds my hand. All of which I adore and am very grateful for.

He knows I’m nuts about him, even if I’m not very skilled at expressing it.

Thank heaven!

In your relationship, who’s the huggy one?