I am a serial offender of the rule against PDAs. (Public Displays of Affection.) No, I'm not making out at the theater, groping in the aisles at the grocery store, or all but having sex in front of friends. I am just openly and often affectionate toward my husband. Always have been. Throughout the course of any day, I probably tell him that I love him somewhere between 10 and 25 times. I text him love notes. I post “I love you. XOXO” on his facebook page for him to find later. I hold his hand when we ride in the vehicle together or as we walk into a restaurant or store. I randomly offer a hug and a kiss several times each day. He does the same to me. When you commit all of this to paper, it sounds disgustingly mushy and over the top. More than one friend has issued a virtual eyeroll in my direction. Maybe it is over the top. I don't even notice I'm doing these things most of the time, though, because being affectionate is a long standing habit. We've been a couple for more than 19 years and married for over 14 of those years. We have nothing left to prove to one another at this point, so we are officially together for love and no other reason. So why the constant PDAs? Well, the answer to that is somewhat multifaceted.
I don't really like to be touched. I love an occasional warm hug from someone that I really love, I like holding hands with my husband, I like sex, but I don't enjoy cuddling or lots of physical contact otherwise. I'm not sure why. It makes me feel overly heated for one thing and I hate being hot. I also start to feel trapped when a hug lasts too long or if I try to cuddle for longer than around 4 minutes. I used to put forth an effort to cuddle with my husband, but the older I get, the less willing I am to be held. About the closest I will get to cuddling is sitting next to him on the couch and laying my head on his chest or shoulder for awhile. Most usually, though, I don't cuddle. Every night when we go to bed, my husband and I lay side by side and read. We've done this for our entire marriage. We're not speaking, unless one of us reads something really interesting or amusing that we want to share with the other, and we're definitely not cuddling, but this is probably my favorite and most intimate feeling part of the entire day. If I'm feeling affectionate, I will put one foot on his leg or I will lay one hand on his shoulder. Otherwise, we aren't touching or interacting, just sharing some quiet space and listening to one another breathe while we each read away, content in our own entertainment. That's it. I love it. So, how does someone who doesn't like being touched end up being a giant mushball of love? Well, somewhat ironically, because I dislike being cuddled and touched, I tend to try to openly show my affection in other ways, because otherwise our emotional relationship boils down to just sex. I do like sex, don't get me wrong, but I also feel a deep and abiding love for my husband. The problem comes in because I want him to know that I love him even though I don't want to cuddle unless it leads to sex. Ever. So, instead of lots of cuddling, he gets a lot of verbal affirmations that I love him, and lots of small touches like random hugs and kisses so that he knows I do, in fact, love him. It makes sense to me, so I guess it doesn't really matter if anyone else gets it. *shrug*
If you know me, you may be thinking, "Wait a minute ,I've seen you two cuddle, you lying liar!" Well, sort of. If we are in a group situation, I do tend to be more willing to allow physical contact. I'm sure both of our families have witnessed me sitting right next to him and snuggling on the couch at family gatherings. That isn't what you think it is. I don't like lots of people around me. I feel socially awkward and ill at ease, and I really want to go hide and read a book. In those situations, my husband becomes my touchstone. He becomes my center of calm for that situation. I need to touch him at that point because it shuts some of the stress and noise of a social situation out and I can sort of recharge my batteries by knowing that he's there. If you ever witness me give more than a hug and a light kiss in public, I'm probably feeling very ill at ease and looking for a bit of normal to keep me from freaking out. When I was a kid, I had a security blanket that I drug around everywhere with me for years. I was terrified of new people, situations, loud noises, and more. That blanket provided me with something physical that made me feel safe and okay in the face of a crazy world that I couldn't make sense of as a child. Sometimes I still can't make sense of it. Now, I cling to my husband as the port in a storm when I'm overwhelmed by social interaction. Is that cuddling? I guess it is, but it's more of a defense mechanism if you ask me. Still, how awesome a compliment is it to the spirit of quiet strength and calm that my husband exudes that it elevates him to bear that place in my life? I hope he knows how much I value him.
Because he is so important to me, I don't ever want him to question that fact. I tell him often, I try to show it in my actions and words, and I am never embarrassed to engage in some mild PDAs in the quest to let him know that I do love him. Is that mushy? Is it over the top and eyeroll worthy? Maybe. But, feel free to roll your eyes and look away, because I'm unlikely to stop any time soon.