One of the biggest complaints my ex-husband had against me was that I never showed any kind of physical affection during our marriage. Looking back on it, I know now that he was right. Sex was a problem, but he was referring to more than that. I never rushed into his arms spontaneously, never initiated any type of cuddling, and only sometimes offered a hug. And it wasn't only with him: everyone I've had a relationship with has had the same complaint. So it was with great intrigue that I read an article I came across in the Huffington Post about a gene that can cause a certain percentage of females to fail to bond with others, and to have a hard time committing. It was aptly dubbed “the divorce gene.”
Based on the Swedish study, apparently there is a gene, known as A-allele, that is a variant of an oxytocin receptor gene. Without going into too much detail about the chemistry behind it (which I know nothing about), this gene basically means some women may not process oxytocin properly. Oxytocin is important, because it creates feelings of warmth, affection, bonding, and even the desire to be maternal. Now, this study hasn't been proven to be factual, nor do I mean to report it as such, but it's something to consider. What if I have that gene? Maybe it could explain a lot of my problems. And how wonderful if it turns out to be true! At least then I could blame my austere nature on biological make-up rather than a psychological disorder. I've often wondered if I'm the only woman in the world who doesn't like to cuddle very often. Usually it is the male half of a relationship who is accused of a lack of non-sexual intimacy. If you're a woman in a relationship with someone who doesn't give you enough affection, maybe I can help provide some perspective before the “D” word comes up in conversation. And if you've already divorced and this issue was partly to blame, maybe I can offer some advice if you're ever faced with another non-touchy person.
Should You Divorce? Deciding What You Can and Can't Live With
I don't claim to be a relationship expert, especially since all of my relationships have obviously failed. But I do know that many people, mainly women, feel that there is something wrong with them when their partners don't initiate physical touch. They worry they aren't pretty enough, or have said or done something wrong. I have been party to making several people feel this way, and almost every time it had nothing to do with them. It was me. I can't stress the importance of those three words enough. It was me. It wasn't Clarissa's fault that I never held her hand, or Josh's fault I didn't like to be touched while falling asleep. It's just the way I've always been. But love takes a lot of work. In every relationship, both people enter into the union with flaws, and issues, and differences that hopefully get worked out over time. Still, there are some aspects to a person's personality that may never change, and that's why it's important to know who you are and what you want. If you need to be with a good listener, and you know he never will be, then you have to ask yourself if that's something you can live with, or not. There's no shame in deciding what you want and need from your relationship. I can't blame my ex-husband for not wanting to be married to a woman who doesn't ever even consider an impromptu embrace. Some people - most people even – need that. So, it wasn't necessarily for the best from my point of view that we divorced, but it was the best thing for him, considering. I think everyone should decide what is best for themselves, and do whatever is necessary to attain it.
Image Courtesy of Richard T Scott
It's Not About Who Is To Blame, But What You Can Bear
I have no idea if there is really a gene that played a role in my divorce. I think it's easy to blame chemistry and that's just the way she is on many forms of bad behavior. In the end, it doesn't really matter if your spouse is a compulsive liar because of his childhood, or if he doesn't want to snuggle with you on lazy Sunday mornings because he is naturally unaffectionate. It's about what you can bear. And of there is something about your significant other that you just can't include in your life anymore, then it's something you'll both have to face. Maybe he can change some things, but not others. The same is true for everyone. I'm sure my ex has learned from our marriage that gong forward, he'll seek out an extra affectionate kind of girl. I in turn have learned that maybe I should work on my hand holding skills. One day, perhaps I'll be the type of girl who lets someone hold me while I drift off to sleep. But under the microscope that allows us to see the brutal truth, I'm just as likely to pull away. Blame it on my A-allele.
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