The KISSING Series: 7 Reasons Kissing in Marriage Can Stop!

by | Feb 6, 2023 | Connecting, Series | 72 comments

Kissing in Marriage
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Do you remember your pre-teen years when you used to dream of kissing your crush?

In those days you likely couldn’t imagine much beyond kissing, but kissing was a BIG DEAL. All the romance movies ended when the couple had their first kiss. The culmination of teenage relationship movies was that first kiss. When to kiss someone you were dating was always filled with that tense anticipation!

This February, I thought we’d take a look at kissing in marriage, because all too often that excitement for kissing wanes.

Most of us (over 90%) kissed breathlessly before we were married, according to our surveys. But not all of us enjoy kissing now.

That may not be a problem, of course. Some couples just don’t like kissing that much, but they enjoy snuggling, or touching each other’s hair, or rubbing each other’s arms or necks, and they still feel all close to each other and affectionate. If you’re someone who just doesn’t like swapping salivia, but you still enjoy touch, and your spouse does too, then that’s great! You don’t need to feel like you’re doing aything wrong, and keep doing just what you’re doing!

But often kissing falls to the wayside for other reasons.

This month, I thought we might examine some of those reasons, and talk about them. And to do that, I’m going to list seven different dynamics that I’ve seen and heard about with couples, and I’ll ask for your input on which ones we should explore more!

Now, I’m not going to deal with the biggest one–that there are major relationship issues. Obviously if there’s tension, if you’re feeling taken for granted, if there’s abusive behavior or betrayal you’re not going to watn to kiss, and rightly so. But let’s look at why kissing may evaporate in relationships that are in other ways functioning quite well. 

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7 Reasons Kissing May Stop in Marriage

1. Hygiene makes kissing off-putting

Maybe one of you has really bad breath and really bad hygiene issues, and it makes kissing nauseating.

Whether it’s someone coming to bed with major body odour, or someone who doesn’t brush their teeth properly and has chronic bad breath, kissing just isn’t fun.

And addressing this can seem daunting, because nobody wants to insult their spouse. But you don’t want to live with it either!

2. Facial hair makes kissing uncomfortable

When beards aren’t properly trimmed, or when they’re so short they’re mainly stubble, kissing can be prickly. No one wants to feel all prickly!

Now, not all beards are bad for kissing. My hubby has a beard and he makes sure that it’s soft and there’s no problem at all! But many women do report to me that they feel like their husband’s beard has stolen affection from them because they can’t kiss anymore.


Sheila and Keith kissing in marriage

Now let’s get to more of the relationship issues!

3. Kissing is seen to always lead to sex

I think this is the #1 killer of kissing–when it’s assumed that if we kiss, we’re going to have sex and we’re going to welcome more sexual touch (like groping the breasts).

Many men don’t realize how much they’re killing their sex lives with this attitude. If a wife feels like she’s promising sex if she starts to kiss him, and she also doesn’t know if she wants to have sex, then she will stop kissing because she doesn’t want teh tension in the relationship of having to say no or him getting upset because she started.

She doesn’t want to put a downpayment on something she may not want to buy later. 

But here’s the issue: most women have responsive libidos, meaning that desire doesn’t kick in until after they’re a little bit excited. It’s only once you’ve been kissing for a while; once you’ve been affectionate for a while; once you’ve been touching for a while, that she may actually want to have sex.

If you take kissing out of the equation, it’s likely you kill her desire too. 

Couples who have fun sex lives do so because desire is allowed to build, but affection is allowed to stay affection too. So value touch and affection that doesn’t go anywhere, including kissing, and it’s actually more likely that some of that affection will go somewhere!

We talked about this phenomenon in our learned helplessness podcast, too, where women especially can find kissing triggering because of the associations that kissing now has. We’ve got to get this right!

4. Kissing is rushed to get to the real stuff

Before you were married, you likely had major makeout sessions when you kissed FOREVER. It got you both hot and bothered, and it was really fun. You mingled breaths; you felt close, you learned what each other liked. Even if you had sex before you were married, kissing was still likely a big part of your relationship because you were just starting out and getting to know each other.

But now that everything else is totally on the table, and you know each other really well, kissing can often be treated like a poor substitute for the “real thing.” Why kiss when we can do other stuff?

And yet studies have shown that one of the biggest predictors of women reaching orgasm during a sexual encounter is that the couple kissed. Kissing isn’t a poor substitute. For many people, women especially, it’s a central part of the real thing. It is the real thing!

5. We stop kissing because we ignore bids to connect

John Gottman has found in his decades of research on succcessful marriages that healthy couples look for bids to connect and honor them. You look for natural times when you can build connection. When your spouse starts talking, you face them and ask questions to keep the conversation going. When a spouse arrives home, you greet them and kiss them. When they leave,  you say good-bye and give a kiss.

At night, you kiss.

We have natural times during the day when you can acknowledge, “Hey, you’re important to me.” It doesn’t have to take a long time, but these little things build connection and build a marriage.

We tended to do them when we were dating, kissing at the end of each date, and often at the beginning too. But often we get so caught up in real life and in busy-ness that we forget to use those natural moments to kiss.

We’re not focused on connection; we’re focused on getting things done.

6. Your spouse kisses in a way that you don’t like

Then there’s preference! Do you like tongue, or no tongue? Do you like lots of saliva, or no saliva? Do you like kisses that are a few seconds and then you pull away and start again, or do you like lips locked for the entire time?

If you’re married to someone who likes tongue and lots of saliva, and you feel that’s a little bit gross, you’re not going to want to kiss. Or if you like shorter kisses, and your spouse likes the kind when you have to come up for air, you’re going to feel like you’re being suffocated.

None of these things is bad, by the way. Tongue is great–but no tongue is fine too. Ditto for saliva. It’s all about what you like. But if you like different things and haven’t talked about it, then kissing can become something you don’t look forward to at all.

7. Your spouse has terrible technique and kissing is uncomfortable

Where you the kind that practiced kissing with a teddy bear, or against a window to see the lip prints? I remember talking about this with my friends in fifth and sixth grade! We were always trying to figure out how to kiss properly.

But maybe your spouse never went through that phase, and kissing means pushing against one’s teeth, or crushing one’s lips, or making it really difficult to breathe.

This goes beyond preference to technique. Maybe your spouse has never figured out how to kiss properly (or doesn’t seem to care to figure it out), and so it makes kissing really distasteful.


Why kissing disappears in marriage

So there you go! Seven reasons why kissing may fall by the wayside in a relationship where there aren’t necessarily major issues.

I’d like to explore the ones that resonate the most with you this month. So let’s crowd-source this!

Leave a comment and tell me which one, or ones, are big issues for you and I’ll try to concentrate my posts on the ones that people react to the most. Or is there an eighth I should have added? Leave that as well! Let’s reclaim kissing and affection in our marriages. 

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Blue

    I’d love to learn more about number 3!

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes, that’s one I’ll definitely write more on! People wanted us to go into more detail on this after our learned helplessness podcast.

      • Lena

        This is true for us! We had incredible makeout sessions before we got married and now the “fun” kissing only happens as a precursor to sex. We’ve talked about it, and hubs says he doesn’t like to get worked up if there isn’t sexy time right after. I say, let’s get worked up and have something to look forward to later! We’ve yet to agree on this. 🙁

    • D

      Just this week my husband and I had a long argument about this.
      Basically, I feel I stopped liking kissing because he would often tell me I had a bad breath. Which I know is true at some points during the day or after eating. I know he has a bad breath sometimes too. And I asked him how bad it is in my case, if he thought I should see a Dr. He said no. That sometimes is just not very pleasant. And it got me thinking about kissing when dating. Like, we would go out for dinner and kiss after having had a meal that left a trace in our breath and it was fine.
      So, I have the impression that his standards are just not realistic. I feel he wants me to taste like toothpaste the whole time and he has even complained before after me having brushed my teeth.
      BTW, I have great dental hygiene.
      So, what is the balance? Breath is rarely neutral and having to brush your teeth every time you want to kiss seems unachievable

  2. Tory

    I am fortunate that my husband and I both LOVE kissing! I definitely have a much harder time having an orgasm when we DON’T kiss (like if we are having sex when one of us is sick and we decided ahead of time not to kiss). Great article as always.

  3. Sally

    For sure, relationship issues are the biggest obstacle like you said at the beginning. When that’s not the issue then #3 is definitely a problem. Also, combining the facial hair and hygiene issues….make sure your mustache is dry before kissing your wife (like no leftover drink or sauce lingering….ewww). Technique has been a turn off for me when it feels like my husband is almost trying to grab my lips with his lips by having his mouth open too big, combined with too wet, and it’s just not pleasing at all. However, I would add that for me, as I get more warmed up, the technique doesn’t matter as much – the more aroused I am, the more messy and passionate a kiss can be without grossing me out.

  4. Lip Locked

    Oh, where to start! My mom always used to quietly gag when men would spit on the street and I learned that spit is gross. I’d still dream of kissing as a teen and, when my husband and I were first dating (fresh out of purity culture), I enjoyed kissing. But then I started to notice that he wasn’t all that keen on brushing his teeth… My “ick” factor started to kick in. I tried to talk to him about it but he got very offended. I think he also felt nagged and “mommied” by me noticing whenever he wasn’t brushing his teeth. Kissing started to evaporate and was almost completely off the table after a few years. The fact that he didn’t care about being attractive for me in this was also a big turn off. He doesn’t use toothpaste as there’s no scientific evidence that it’s better for your teeth, but just uses water. He also refuses to wear cologne (even though I’ve asked him to to help me get in the mood (which he feels I’m not in nearly enough) as he dislikes scented products). He’s pretty slow to get hair cuts and lets his beard get a bit raggedy in between trims. Speaking of his beard (a pandemic beard), I love the way it looks but definitely find it uncomfortable to kiss. I do not think it’s likely he’ll be willing to use products to soften his beard (he never uses the ones I bought him one Father’s Day, probably because they smell divine and it takes “too much time”).

    We’ve been married many years and have kids and my libido is nowhere near his. Partly because of my own issues. I keep hearing that kissing is a good way to get yourself in the mood but I have no idea what to do about the fact that I’m not pretty grossed out by it. Even if he started brushing 3 times a day with toothpaste and had the neatest beard in the world, I don’t know if I could go back to finding it erotic at this point.

    Lest you feel he’s too terrible, he’s a great dad and kind, hardworking man.

    I’d like to someday enjoy kissing again but it seems pretty hopeless. Are there Christian kissing therapists out there, haha? I know there are Christian Sex Therapists but they certainly aren’t near my small Canadian town and the budget’s a bit tight.

    • Suzanne

      Those are not your own issues those are his issues. Bad breath is a huge turn off, not smelling good is a huge turn off. If he doesn’t care enough to clean himself up then he can’t expect you to want to roll around naked with him! If a grown man can’t care for himself properly then what do they expect you to do other than nag and “Mom” them, they are not behaving like adults. No one wants to have sex with a man child, he is the one who created the issues. Being a great dad and a hardworking man doesn’t take away that he won’t care for himself properly and in doing that care for you and your feelings.

    • Ronda Stewart-Wilcox

      That kissing is presumed to be a prelude to sex is a big one for me.

      My husband also fell into the misconception that he could trigger a desired sexual response by doing a certain thing every time. Kissing. Massage. Etc.

    • Lip Locked

      I should also add that he’s in the top 20% of Christian husbands (as per “The Great Sex Rescue”) and he makes sure I orgasm almost every time we have sex. And yet I’m still not all that into it, finding myself resentful, grumpy and tired and sometimes asking if I can “just do him” so I can get to sleep sooner and not have to deal with my own mental and emotional baggage when it comes to sex.

  5. JJ

    3 & 5:
    My wife doesn’t want to kiss much, because she knows she will get turned on, and who’s got the time or energy for that? I miss making out. I can’t remember the last time we did that.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Interesting! That’s a different take on it but that’s definitely a good one.

    • WeeEEEE

      We definitely don’t kiss as much after 20 years; but still we start and end the day with a couple dozen quick ones at least. Or before leaving each other for work, errands, etc. It definitely says “You are important to me.” And its a bit silly which makes us smile and laugh. I need nonsexual physical touch so I hug and snuggle a lot.

      The area where I think we’ve differed is kissing during intercourse. My husband enjoys that but I find it very distracting. Maybe its our height difference.

      Also if we spend time “making out” before it turns to sex; it just doesn’t last long enough for me to start getting aroused and reach climax. Now he has ALWAYS made sure I orgasm too; but I enjoy orgasm during intercourse much more than by hand. So kissing needs a balance. It’s not best when its first. Other touch can come with much less expectation and give me more time to decide id like more. I guess we have worked out a balance that works for us at this stage of life.

  6. Jane Eyre

    Number thrrrreeee.

    Also, since sex is miserable, that feeling of misery ‘moves back’ to everything else. I just dislike physical connection with someone who has used my body for pleasure that he has zero desire to give me.

    • Angela

      I am so sorry. I have to pondered this as well for my own self.

  7. Jen

    3 and 5. It may be worth spending some time on the relationship problems, too. If your spouse is ignoring the bids for connection in other ways, why would you want to kiss them? Sometimes the lack of desire to kiss is a huge red flag that there are hidden problems in the marriage (emotional anorexia, secrets that the spouse is sensing, workaholism, etc.). If kissing is one of our first joys when dating, it makes sense that it is one of the first things to go when problems start. Remember in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts’ character, a prostitute, says, “No kidding – that’s too personal.”? That always struck me. Kissing is super intimate. This is a great topic!!

    • Jen

      Sorry – auto correct. “No kissing – it’s too personal.”

      • Bree

        3 & 5 seem most pertinent to me. Three especially.

  8. Suzanne

    Happy to say kissing is great with my husband. We read each other well, kissing doesn’t have to lead to sex it can be just kissing, and we both know and are happy with that. My nose is extremely sensitive, my husband calls me a bloodhound I can smell everything, number 1 would kill me. We were together 4 years before we got married so I was aware of his good hygiene and he of mine.

  9. Kay

    Purity culture definitely plays a roll in number 3. Remember that misinterpretation of Shaunti Feldhan’s research about guys not wanting to stop once you get going? A lot of us women were literally taught that guys do not have the self-control to stop once you get them riled up, or that guys will get blue b*lls and it will cause them physical pain if they don’t orgasm right then and there. So if you aren’t married yet, don’t do any of these things at all to protect your purity. (R*pe culture much?)

    Well, that messaging then also creates dysfunction in marriage too and causes us to not even start the other things “just to be safe” if we aren’t up for sex. My husband and I just talked about this last week. That he deeply desires more physical affection from me, and I realized I had some of this programming leftover and was unconsciously avoiding it whenever I wasn’t up for sex. And he was so confused! He apparently did NOT get the message that it was impossible to stop. He can stop at ANY time, even if there is some sexual touch too. He said it does help to lay out the expectation (of no sex intended) ahead of time, but he will always welcome a good make out session even if that’s all it is.

    And just like you said, it’s funny, half the time I say I don’t want this to lead to more? It leads to more. Because with the pressure off I am able to enjoy it more first—which leads to me actually wanting more.

    Just when I thought I had healed from purity culture, there’s another layer of dysfunction there waiting to be discovered. **sigh**

    • Dee

      We used to kiss a lot. Hubby decided to grow a beard on vacation one year and we hardly ever kiss now. His beard is scratchy and distracting. It stopped oral sex too. It was his choice to grow it. I don’t want a mouthful of hair when I him him or cactus iny nether regions. He also kisses my farting a pointy tongue in my mouth, like a snake. Annoying. But we are affectionate in other ways and the sex is always good. If he wants more.kissing or oral sex, then he has to shave his beard.

  10. Sarah

    Possible Reason 8 – she has young kids and she’s all touched out and overwhelmed with the idea of being wet

  11. Jo R

    Escalating the intensity too fast.

    Let’s start at the same level as first or second dates, rather than at honeymoon level.

    (So sorta number six but slightly different.)

  12. Nessie

    You hit on most (in addition to the terrible relationship part, to which these problems contributed.)

    #3- I’m not sure my husband knew how to kiss without instantly grabbing my backside or breast. Seriously, a kiss should be able to be it’s own thing, no handsy strings attached every time. I’d likely debate a few seconds on giving him mouth-to-mouth resuscitation if needed, it was such a problem!

    #6- I hate hate HATE tongue which was so clearly communicated many times over. He just got “caught up” in the moment and “forgot.” His complete lack of respect was as nauseating as the physical forcing.

    #4- He expected intercourse to start simply bc he had undressed or rolled over, honed in on private areas, nothing else. So dehumanizing and often painful.

    #1- rarely brushed, bathed infrequently. I bought him cologne, he wouldn’t use it.
    *two hints, y’all- Brushing your teeth is great but it alone is not foreplay.
    Burping while going in for a kiss is really gross. Breathe that nasty breath out first.

    #2- He hates shaving. I hate #60 grit applied to my fac. (The sandpaper actually feels better on my face. I tested it out.)
    *Another hint- The act of shaving does not mean you have to have intercourse. Similarly, shaving alone is not the entirety of foreplay!

    Evaluate how you kiss through a Christian lens. Fruit of the Spirit, do unto others, etc. Kissing should be a sign of love, not dominance, control, and selfishness. (Also, can “Christian” books stop talking rape-y about it? He “planted a kiss,” “he “claimed her mouth,” his mouth “locked on hers,” etc., to describe characters “in love?”)

    • Suzanne

      I am so sorry that this happened to you. I hope you are safe now and not still dealing with this unsafe man.

      • Nessie

        Thanks, Suzanne. I put up hard boundaries and he sees now how he was and is putting in a lot of work to change- there are just multiple issues to work through so it will take a long time. I am safe though.

  13. No Kissing Please

    So glad you brought up 6 and 7, Sheila. Sadly, I have never really liked kissing my husband, even from the very first kiss. I love him so much – he is funny and smart and a great husband/father – and I really enjoy being affectionate with him, but I just don’t enjoy kissing him (I also don’t enjoy sex with him). In past relationships, including my first dysfunctional marriage, kissing has definitely been a turn-on, so I miss that. Without it, I find it much more difficult to get aroused. I think this is a physical chemistry issue with my hubby, not just a technique issue…which makes me sad, as I don’t think it can be overcome with discussions, practice, etc. But I’m really grateful to hear that there are many ways in which kissing can be unsatisfactory too; it’s not just me.

    • Jack smith

      So he is your husband but you don’t like to kiss him or have sex with him? Why/how did you have kids with this person?

  14. R

    Numbers 3 and 5. I’m afraid to start something that can’t be finished. We use natural family planning, so we have to abstain quite a bit, and it’s kind of mean to get him excited and not be able to complete it at all that day, or the next…. And yet, I know he longs for that connection. Also, I’m home with our kids ALL DAY and I’m often touched out. I just want space to myself. That kind of ties into number 5, but brings it to a new level. But I do miss some kissing connections. I think we need to do more of that. (PS Check out the Disney+ kids’ show Bluey, Season 2, Episode 14: Fancy Restaurant . It kinda goes along with this!)

    • Zombie F

      So cute! And so on point for this discussion…though it may have caused #1 problems for the doggie couple in this case.

  15. Anon

    My husband will give me the exact same kiss a thousand times in a single night. It gets repetitive and old. That combined with dental hygiene issues is just a put off. And he’s a great guy- he always makes sure I come, but this one issue needs fixing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Interesting perspective! A number of people have mentioned this and I hadn’t thought of it before. Yes, the not varying things up and thinking, “this will do the trick.”

  16. Phil

    For me, I seem to be able to when the right TIME is to kiss. However, tyming can be somewhat of an issue if I am not paying attention. This morning for example I lost an hour to traffic so I may not get to kiss my wife tonight. I do know what comes first and that is for sure kissing. Predicting when Grace wants to kiss is fun but some- times I need to obey the signals. Also Kissing is best when we have gotten into some real heavy topics. Thats for sure. I have this big project I am working on and apparently it got moved to the end of February. I am down with that cuz it is really cool. However. Slowing down to kiss with Grace will be my priority. Kissing is a BLAST – and sex is incredible when you kiss. There is a lot to learn by kissing first so you are sure she wants SEX! This more that I want to share with others here because there is a link to the real thing I certainly LOVE the real thing. I am looking forward to what else you have More to follow this month.

    • Suzanne

      I think any time can be the right time to kiss. I kiss my husband every morning, we kiss when we both get home at night. Neither is a lead up to anything other than a greeting and a quick connection. I may be reading your comment wrong, but kissing is not always a lead up to sex, or a detector of if your partner is responsive to going further. A kiss can be just a kiss and sometimes should be just a kiss.

      • Phil

        Oh Suzanne – please accept my apologies if I gave that expression. I am exhausted today. Best to you.

      • Angela

        I would also like to add that I felt he (my husband)demanded kissing and would be “aggressively kissing” me.before we got married. I wasn’t turned on by his kissing. I have not enjoyed kissing for the last few months now. And now can’t even handle the idea of sex. I am appreciating this information as I think it is helping me dissect and think through issues. I also feel somewhat validated and not alone. Yet, I will say, I’ve been wondering what is wrong with me. I just think maybe there are layers of healing that need to happen for me and it is hard for me to not feel that I need to rush back in to the regular stuff of married life… kissing and sex because I feel I am supposed to. I feel I don’t know how long this is going to take. But I feel I can be more clear headed and think better and talk better and that we carry on better conversations without all the extra…i.e. sex, etc…

  17. Carolyn Phillips

    Oh number 3, so much number 3, and even hugs and cuddles, especially in bed can fall to it as well.

    And not exactly hygiene, but morning breath/mouth stickiness, the just woke up feeling…that can be rank, even when at other times of the day it’s fine. It’s not just smelling or feeling it, but also wondering if mine is as bad for the same reasons.

    The other that occurs to me isn’t going to apply to many, but living with a 27 year old daughter with a learning disability who thinks sex is ‘yuk’ but knows what it is and who comments if you kiss for more than two seconds and she is around and whose bedroom wall shares a wall with your bedroom so anything has to be quiet!

  18. Boone

    “You must remember this,
    A kiss is just a kiss,
    A sigh is just a sigh,
    The fundamental things apply,
    As time goes by.”

    “We’ll always have Paris.”

    “Here’s lookin at you, kid.”

  19. Angharad

    Sometimes, life just gets in the way, especially if you are under a lot of pressure. We went through a time like this not long after we married and kissing became much less frequent. And I find that if we haven’t spent much time connecting during the day, it’s much harder to get in the right mood at bedtime! So we now have a ‘rule’, that when one of us is going out or returning to the house, we kiss. And when we make each other a tea or coffee, we kiss. And if one of us forgets, the other one reminds them and jokes that they’re ‘charging interest’ (i.e. two kisses instead of one) for late payment!!! On the surface, it’s just a bit of silly fun, but underneath, it reminds us of the importance to keep that connection going during the day, however busy we are. Because lets face it, if we’re too busy to spend 2 or 3 seconds giving our partner a kiss, then we are too busy, full stop!

    I guess a lot of people might think we are unromantic to ‘schedule’ kisses, but it makes sure we don’t end up going days without kissing and not even realising it. And ‘scheduling’ a certain number of kissing moments in the day means we are way more likely to have lots of ‘unscheduled’ moments too. Might not work for everyone, but it works for us.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I don’t think that’s unromantic at all! I love that.

  20. Sarah D

    I used to love kissing my boyfriends, and they all told me I was an excellent kisser; then I met my husband. His style seemed erratic and “off” to me, but it was the only thing that I didn’t really dig about him, so I ignored it, figuring that once we were married, sex would compensate for the subpar kissing. That was a serious miscalculation on my part…
    We expetimented with me teaching him how I liked to be kissed, but it became very forced and awkward. It was obvious he was having to think about it way too much. I also eventually learned that he just never really liked kissing much, which no doubt contributed.
    The real nail in the coffin, though, was his problems with me regarding issue #1. My husband often complained about my breath during our first few years of marriage. I tried to increase my mouth hygiene as he demanded, but I I just didn’t have the time and willpower to spend *that* much time on my teeth/mouth, especially when none of my previous kissing partners had ever had a problem. I eventually resigned myself to the fact that my husband was never going to be happy with my breath, and so I began avoiding kissing or even close snuggling so I could avoid the criticism.

    • Joy

      This sounds similar to my experience. I can’t relate to all these “#3 is an issue” comments at all. My husband also has an issue with an injury to his nasal passages that make kissing a bit different because he can’t breathe well through his nose. Sometimes it just is what it is. Maybe our husbands don’t like spit.

    • Lisa Johns

      My experience with the breath issue was that it was an excuse to criticize and reject me. Nothing I could do was going to make a difference; he just didn’t want to be close to me once the ring was on.

  21. Mindy

    Funny this just now came up. We are healing from betrayal and brokeness and working toward healthy physical intimacy and are trying to figure out how to restart. Kissing was a question. For me, it stopped when I started to get resentful that the physical became an act, and responding to his kiss meant #3, and then he rushed to get to the “good stuff.” If I didnt kiss him he “worked harder” for me. Now that we are headed to healthy, it is hygene (end of work day breath is AWFUL!) and bad technique. I don’t know how to tell him about the technique part w/o hurting his feelings about the past 22 years. I don’t even know what I would prefer anymore. I would love to find a resource to help us in that area as well.

    • Jo R

      Well, it probably will hurt HIS feelings. Do YOUR feelings matter? AT ALL?

  22. Rebecca

    #1! Ugh…..I’ve nicely told my husband I thoroughly enjoy kissing more when he has freshly brushed but it didn’t seem to work. He apparently thinks eating breath mints is the answer. I swear he pops one in his mouth and chews it up like candy. He doesn’t even suck on it long enough to help with his breath and then of course there’s the nasty film on his teeth from not brushing. Ewww

  23. Laura

    I’ve been single for a long time but recently started seeing someone so we haven’t gotten to the kissing stage yet. We’re not even holding hands; just side hugs. I know the feeling all so well anticipating that first kiss.

    As for my former marriage over 20 years ago, kissing often led to sex or some groping. I would ask my ex why he had to grab my boobs or crotch every time we kissed. He’d get mad and then say, “Fine, I just won’t touch you.” As though it was all or nothing to him. I just felt like a sex object to him, so toward the end of our marriage, we hardly kissed.

    I’ve often heard that once you start kissing, it all goes forward from there and eventually leads to sex. When you’re in a non-marital relationship and want to stay celibate until marriage, it is hard to know when you should start the first kiss, because once you do and you really enjoy kissing, you want to do more or kiss longer. Again, I’m not there yet, but I’m feeling the anticipation.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, Laura, I didn’t know you were seeing someone! I wish you all the best at finding a healthy relationship. After all this time and all this heartache, I hope you can know real intimacy and acceptance.

      • Laura

        Thank you Sheila!

        So far, it’s been great!

  24. KR

    Definitely number 5, especially now that he works from home….I’ve always worked at home. We go to our respective “offices” and the goodbye kiss has gone by the wayside since neither one of us is actually leaving. I love kissing him. When we were dating we kissed a lot. Nothing about him or me has really changed in that department, just the everyday good morning/goodbye/hello. At least we still kiss goodnight every night.

  25. Anonymous

    We both use CPAPs. Snuggling in bed to fall asleep used to be a thing. Kissing and getting aroused was a thing. Even if we went to bed at different times it could happen. My husband has early mornings and long days. He often goes to bed earlier than me. If I want to kiss him in bed, he has to wake up and remove his mask. If we want to snuggle to fall asleep, we have to sort our hoses out and position ourselves so the masks aren’t askew… or get up later, when we are sleepy, and put masks on. Honestly, the CPAPs made snuggling difficult and interfered with spontaneous kisses in bed.

    And, during “the act” our mouths are offset by about 8+ inches. He is 6 inches taller than I am and his legs are 2 inches shorter. He has a very long body. It is quite awkward and I usually end up breathing chest hair. Kissing is difficult if not impossible.

    I’m just pointing out a couple of other obstacles.

  26. MsB

    #6. I HATE wet, sloppy kisses. It feels icky and like I’ve been licked/slobbered on! * I don’t like dogs who lick either, lol *
    I’ve been married twice. I’ve never not had a non-sloppy, slurpy, sucky, sticky kiss (past a quick peck, and even then it seems like my husband just wants to suck me in). I never kissed much before marriage because of all the messages, thank you purity culture, and I don’t like kissing now. And then I feel guilty that I don’t like kissing, because I’m supposed to, right?!
    Thank you for helping me feel slightly less freakish!

  27. Michelle

    I know it was mentioned about “not kissing when there’s big relationship issues.” Sometimes I think we may not yet realize there are big issues. Little backstory. My husband and I are high school sweethearts. He hid an addiction that I knew very little about for 16 years. (I caught tiny things here and there) but in 2018 it all came out that he had been cheating from a few months after we started dating until the confession. Then in October last year he confessed to still cheating (~20 years total) (Christian marriage counselors were a joke we’re now both seeing counselors who specialize in what we need to heal) but anyway, Kissing. I’ve always not liked kissing and never knew why. I realized recently it’s because I’ve always kept him at arms length because there was never any trust subconsciously. Just like Julia Roberts says in “Pretty Woman” kissing is too personal. I think that’s why I don’t like it. God created us for connection but I think He also created us to, even subconsciously, push back when that connection is off and we need to examine why. I just thought I was someone who didn’t like kissing but there was actually much more going on at a God level of understanding that I had to dig into.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Really interesting, Michelle!

      (And I’m so sorry for the betrayal you’ve experienced. I’m glad you’re in good counseling now, but I’m so sorry for the pain.)

  28. Estelle

    Then you can get medical issues that can interfere with kissing. Many years ago my mom ended up with damage to the nerve supplying the bottom lip after dental work which adversely affected kissing. Fortunately for her, I am a homeopath and could give her a remedy that helped.

  29. Disappointed

    *So* many ignored bids to connect – it feels like he ignores me 90% of the times I say anything to him… and it’s not that he hasn’t heard me, because if I get mad, and say his name sharply, he usually answers what I said before that… That’s behaviour that was *absolutely* not tolerated by my parents, and I feel completely dismissed and unvalued.
    And we kissed before we were married… what I thought were lovely passionate kisses… and then after we were married, he told me that he didn’t like that sort of kiss, only little pecks… and frankly, after 30 seconds of repeated pecks from a man who doesn’t even bother to answer when I talk to him, I’m completely over it… 🙁

  30. Healing

    I became a dental hygienist in 2010 and #1 is a biggie for me. I don’t really remember thinking about it much before being a hygienist but afterward… OMG! Sometimes just thinking of dental biofilm (bacteria) and whatnot in the mouth makes me a bit uneasy about kissing still. I literally won’t kiss my husband without both of us being freshly brushed, flossed and rinsed. I know it was a REALLY touchy discussion in the beginning of our relationship… but like, if you WANT me to WANT to kiss, then this is what has to happen.

    Oh, the dirty mouths I have seen during my dental career… makes me wonder if those people made out with their spouses. Blah.

  31. Anonymous

    All of them are on point, and things I’ve run into, but the biggest issue for me is an extension of #1 – smoking. They’re an incredible partner in every other way, but their addiction can make affection off-putting, even if they are and have made numerous attempts to quit or smoke less. [More to vent than anything else, and echo “don’t trying smoking kids”]

    • Anonymous


  32. Anonymous

    I identify with many of these: 1, 3, 4, 6. You mentioned at the end that these are reasons that aren’t necessarily major issues, but they feel pretty major! How do you have conversations like this with your partner, and how do you learn to move past some of them? It doesn’t feel to me like these are things that can be easily fixed or resolved.

    • Sarah

      I have one you don’t talk about. We both got Covid early on and he recovered quickly. I, on the other hand, ended up losing my taste and smell. But I didn’t lose it as in, it all went away. They were replaced with EVERYTHING tasting and smelling like a mixture of burning metal, feces, and dirt.

      Including my husband’s kisses. I cried a lot for two years because even his body smelled like that even after he’d just showered.

      While taste and smell is still muted for me two years later, I can once again enjoy his kisses because that horrible combination is gone.

      • Gerrie

        Chew nicotine gum for 3 days. I know that sounds weird but I just read a study on that. Smokers were hardly hospitalized with covid and that’s how they discovered it. Bit off topic but maybe it can help you enjoy kissing again.

  33. Jo R


    “If you choose to have poor oral hygiene, I will choose to not kiss you. As soon as you’ve been to the dentist for a cleaning and start brushing at least twice a day, I will revisit the issue. Your decision completely.”

    “I will choose to kiss you, but tonight I will not choose to continue on to sexual activity. Your choice whether we will kiss or not.”

    I’d recommend the book “Boundaries,” which I have read, and many people highly recommend “Boundaries in Marriage.”

  34. DJ

    My husband and I realized that kissing had kind of fallen by the wayside after a few years of marriage, and I think it was mostly due to feeling like it needed to lead to sex. Once I got pregnant and I had a decreased libido I decided I needed to find other ways of showing love, so I implanted the “morning make out.” Every morning we make out in bed before we get up for maybe 30-60 seconds. It’s a great way to start the day and I think it has led to an increase in other spontaneous kissing! I realize some people may be grossed out by morning breath, but I promise neither of us even notices or cares.

  35. Cera Pesole

    3 and 6! Sometimes 2.

  36. Sue

    Number 6 and nearly 7.

  37. Renee Shaw

    Number 7 is definitely a big one in my marriage. I have a small, narrow mouth. My husband has a larger, wider mouth & very full lips. Far too often I’ve just felt like I’m being eaten😖I’ve tried to explain but he just forgets. Either that or his mouth is just so big it engulfs mine without even opening😂🙄

    Poor hygiene, hubby doesn’t brush often, or when he does he doesn’t rinse properly so bad breath is simply swapped by a minty overdose. Same with BO, thinking deodorant will freshen him up. I totally get being too tired for a shower, me too sometimes, but I’ll at least wipe my pits with a flannel.

    I feel like missed opportunities for connection are a thing too. Hubby never really learned or seems motivated to refine his social skills. He’s frequently staring at his phone so isn’t always present enough to notice when I want to just share boring, mundane time with him. We’re also fairly time poor with 2 kids, both working, different churches & church commitments.

  38. Renee

    Oh, & the feeling of it going to lead to sex. I just always feel if I give him an inch he takes 10 miles!! Or on the incredibly rare occasion I do kiss him (often just on the cheek) he gets cheeky & either turns his head to try & make me kiss him on the mouth, or if I offer a tiny peck on the lips he always asks for more, or tries to hold me & leans in to try & get another, making me feel like crap for pulling away.

  39. Cass

    I did not expect to resonate with this post so much. I have found reasons 1, 2, 6, and 7, all apply as to why I don’t kiss my husband as often as I’d like.

  40. Shoshana

    My ex didn’t brush his teeth often enough, but started to when I complained. However, he would chew tobacco and want to kiss me soon after without brushing. Even with brushing it was gross. And his attempts at foreplay forget it when he would chew tobacco before bed. It was so gross.

  41. Kim

    For me #4 and #7 are an issue

  42. Angela

    Thank you for this comment. I agree that God created us for connection and to rexamine when the connection is off. I am in this situation right now. And I appreciate your comment. I have wondered what is wrong with me or if I’m crazy. My husband doesn’t have an addiction. I have, though, just put my finger on it possibly being subconscious and a trust issue for me. This entire post and comments are good for me to read.


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