Dear Emuna,

I am married several years and although I have a wonderful husband, we have very different languages of expressing love. While I grew up in an expressive family, he grew up differently. He is not used to affectionate words or affectionate touch, something I crave. He gives and shows his love in others ways.

Should I accept this and try to change my needs or continue to ask him to fill those needs he feels very uncomfortable with? I tried asking him several times in several ways but it seems to be very hard for him. Is it something I should give up on? Is there a way to change the way I naturally feel connected and loved?

Seeking Love

Dear Seeking Love,

From the words you use I suspect you may have heard of The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. There's even a Jewish version! It's worth reading and re-reading. As you have already observed, we all have different ways of expressing love and different ways of receiving it. Although this can be challenge in marriages, you can begin by recognizing that part of the reason you married your husband, whether conscious or not, was because he was different from you. This is your opportunity to learn and grow and actually become a deeper and richer human being.

Should you accept that your husband expresses love differently? Yes, absolutely. Once you understand which of his behaviors reflect his caring, you can begin to appreciate them and take pleasure in them.

Should you continue to ask for your needs to be met? I'm not sure that will be the most successful strategy. You said he's wonderful. Make sure you tell him. Don't keep nagging him or pressuring him to be more like you. It's self-defeating and he will likely react against it.

I don't think you need to change your needs or give up on them but you need to be patient. You need to approach him with love and not criticism and demands. Be affectionate with him while trying simultaneously to respond with enthusiasm to the ways in which he demonstrates his love

Eventually you will find yourselves in the middle path. He will become more expressive physically and emotionally and you will discover other ways of showing him that you care. There is no right or wrong way of loving. There is no one way to do it.

If you are loving and appreciative, you will get it back in some form. If you attack him or make him feel inadequate, he will retreat further into himself and you will both lose.

You crave affectionate touch. So initiate it and then give him what he craves.

Marriage is about learning and growing together; it takes time and lots (and lots) of patience. And perhaps less of a focus on your needs and more of a focus on his. It may sound counterintuitive but it's a much better recipe for a truly loving relationship.

Husband Resents My Academia Career

I'm a college professor and I travel frequently. I teach. I present papers. I attend academic conferences. Not only does it further my career but it is financially remunerative as well. The challenge is that I am away from my husband quite a bit and he doesn't really like that. Our children are old enough so they're not the issue; he just needs me. I recognize that it's ultimately not good for marriage, I just don't know how to stop. Any advice?

In Academia and Loving It

Dear Loving It,

Is it possible that it's the "loving it" part that your husband is really reacting to? Perhaps what he senses is that in addition to your career and financial goals, these events, dialogues and discussions are what you really enjoy, that these ostensibly work-related situations are where you prefer to be. You find them intellectually stimulating and provocative and you are able to participate in thoughtful conversations with your colleagues on matters important to you.

If that is the case, then it is not so surprising that he is beginning to feel resentful. And you are correct in recognizing that your marriage will eventually suffer.

The question is what to do about it. Here I have a number of practical suggestions, many of which involve the "c" word that is invoked in all successful marriages: compromise.

1. Look for constant opportunities to tell your husband how much you appreciate him, admire him, love him. Reassure him that he is the most important person in the world to you (it's not just women who need reassurance).

2. Share your ideas with him. You might be surprised (or not) at the insight a non-academic can bring to the Ivory Tower - and at the level of thought-provoking conversations you end up having around your dinner table as a result.

3. Where possible, bring him along. It's an opportunity to travel together, for him to meet your professional colleague, and for him to better understand your world and its dynamics.

4. And perhaps, the hardest of all, cut back. You'll earn a little less, you might be medium-tracked instead of fast and you might miss some of those provocative dialogues. But the rewards that will accrue to your relationship outweigh the downside. After all, you want your husband's company in your old age and not some dusty tomes in the university library.