Apr 092014 4 Responses

A Touchy Subject in Marriage

I remember the first time Jenny touched me. We were standing in a Wal-Mart looking for a birthday gift for a friend of mine. In case you haven’t read my bio, you now know I’m from Arkansas. A Top Ten sign you are from Arkansas is if the first place you touch your wife is at Wal-Mart.

In part, I remember the touch because the semester that Jenny and I began to date I was taking a class on Human Sexuality as part of my minor in Family Psychology. In class I had learned that women almost always make the first touch if they are interested in a man. So unbeknownst to Jenny, I was waiting all night to see if she would touch me.

And she did. (For more humor on our relationship, see: On George Straight, a First Kiss, and Seminary Women)

In a joking manner, she reached out and touched my arm. She probably didn’t even realize it, but I did. I also had read the importance of returning the physical touch in order to communicate equal interest, so I touched her as quickly (and probably as awkwardly) as possible. Side note: there is nothing more dangerous than dating someone who has taken a single psychology class, especially a class in Human Sexuality.

Touch Matters

Non-sexual touch is extremely powerful and it is a vital part of a healthy marriage. We know this as relationships begin. A dating couple often looks for every excuse to touch—to hold hands, brush arms, or put a hand on the other’s shoulder.

Touch is so powerful that an inappropriate relationship crosses a major line the first time a touch occurs. When feelings are expressed in touch there is often no turning back from the relationship. (See: You Will Have an Affair If…)

But touch can also be used in a positive way.

Communication is the center-piece of marriage. Nearly every problem is a symptom of a communication problem. Yet communication is more than simply words. Often touch can communicate in a way which words cannot.

It can:

ease the tension in a tough conversation.

communicate support when words are hard to find.

quietly comfort when silence is necessary.

Touch is a powerful weapon in the arsenal of marriage.

Yet too often we fail to use it.

Couples, especially men, rarely touch except for the purposes of sex. And while sex is important, non-sexual touch should occur far more often than sexual touch in a healthy marital relationship. (See: Are You Having Enough Sex?)

There is a direct correlation between marital satisfaction and the amount of non-sexual touch. If you want to improve your marriage, touch more often.

Try this today:

Every time you pass one another, touch.

Anytime you leave the house, kiss.

When you return home from the day, hug for at least 10 seconds.

When you are walking, hold hands.

When seated next to each other, put a hand on the other’s leg.

When watching TV, sit together and cuddle.

When going to bed, hold one another until at least one of you goes to sleep.

Do this and see what happens.

There are two primary reasons why a married couple may not be touching:

1. Apathy. Through a lack of intention a couple can slowly stop touching. If this is the case, the above list is all the couple needs. With just a little intention, a couple can reignite their non-sexual touch and in so doing can dramatically improve their relationship. (See: The Number One Cause of Divorce)

2. An Absence of Trust. When trust wanes, so does touch. We do not have trouble touching our spouse unless we no longer respect them and feel safe around them. If the above list is difficult, something is wrong. Trying harder will not help. You need to seek professional help to understand why non-sexual touch is difficult between you.

Few things can change your relationship as dramatically and quickly as non-sexual touch. Be intentional, have fun, and see how a little touch can go a long way.

holdinghands

4 Responses to A Touchy Subject in Marriage
  1. Denise Reply

    This is really sound advice. I realized that this has been a major part of our 42 years together. We don’t necessarily do all of the list at the end of the blog, but we do almost all of them all the time…..(the one where you hold each other before you fall asleep doesn’t happen now because he falls asleep cuddling with me on the couch.) 😉 But the rest of them we do and have always done. How interesting to realize that these are a major factor in keeping the closeness in one’s marriage. It’s true and I have experienced it.

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