Welcome to “Love & Sex Today.” I’m Dr. Doug Weiss and today’s topic is “Touch Me, Please.” Remember dating, when you were spending so much quality time together, talking about all kinds of things, or just staying on the phone and nobody was saying a thing? How about your hands? They were constantly on each other. Well today, I want to talk about bringing the touch back into your relationship.
This is a big deal. Most of us have heard some of the research about babies who weren’t touched in orphanages and faraway countries and how significantly it damaged them. Touch is a critical ingredient we all long for, and all need. We are interesting in the way our culture presents humanity, as if we’re individual units. We’re really more of a herd, a tribe, and a group, much like many animals in the animal kingdom. We really do need to be touched. We need to be physically affirmed.
It is so important to the human being and that we touch each other. You can see it from kindergarten all the way through college. Kids touching each other, hugging each other, pushing each other around, playing sports, wrestling together. This is something that’s so primitive, so part of who we are. When I say, “primitive,” I mean, it’s kind of a primal need and it doesn’t need to be labeled as bad or anything like that. It’s wonderful that we love to be touched. I have a dog named Moses and he doesn’t have a brother or sister with him, because we’re his family. When I come home, he’ll make sure that I give him attention, because he just wants to be touched. Touch is important to animals and we are animals in the sense that we are creatures and we love to be touched.
When you were dating, you were touching a lot, so don’t forget that. You had touch frenzies. You were out of control sometimes with touch and that was part of the regimen in which you convinced your spouse that you would love and cherish them, that you would take care of them, that you would meet their touch needs because you were so on it. But how is touch today? Maybe you’re married 5, 10, 15, 20 years or you’re in a longer-term relationship. How is your touch today? How intentional are you at the back rub, the shoulder rub, the foot rub, or the long touch? I’m not talking about the quick, “love you honey, see you later” touch, but “I love you honey and I’m staying here for a while. I want to enjoy your body. I want to touch your skin.”
I’m not even talking necessarily about in a sexual or foreplay way. I’m talking about the nonsexual touch. How is it doing? Has it fallen off? Has it been reduced to just a little peck on the cheek, or is it really alive and well? If your spouse had to rate you, would they say, “They’re not a 10 Dr. Weiss, they’re a 25. I mean they’re all over me all the time. I love it. I don’t think I’m ever around them where they’re not engaging me physically?” Well if that’s your case, that’s awesome, but I can tell you, millions of couples drop off. They get to touching the kids, the dog, managing life, paying bills, working hard, being tired, and the touch just seems to take a secondary place or a third place or twentieth place. I mean seriously, take a moment and really evaluate how much time every day, in the last seven days, or the last thirty days, you touched your spouse.
When are you touching them? Are you touching them in the morning? What’s your morning touch look like when you wake up? Do you hug, do you cuddle, do you spoon, and do you touch their legs? What’s your touch look like during the day if you’re home? Maybe you have to work all day and you don’t get to see each other, so there’s an absence of touch. Now when they come home, is it a hug and kiss? What about after the kids go to bed? Are we sitting in front of a TV just looking at a screen? Are we on our phone? Are we on the computer? Does the keyboard get more affection than your spouse?
In many marriages, that is becoming the case as people are avoiding real relationships to check the latest news or the latest thing on some webpage that has no relevance to your life and you won’t ever remember. Your spouse daily starves from touch. And what about going to bed? Is there a touch going on or do you both just crawl in and turn your backs the other way, make yourself comfortable and go to sleep without touch? I mean my wife is touched so much, morning, noon, and night. I’m very fortunate that she’s in my office, so I can just go in there and hug her and kiss her when I want to. But what’s your touch look like?
Really evaluate your touch throughout the day. This will help you go, “Okay this is something I’m really good at. Or this is something I really want to be good at.” I can tell you, it’s very important to your spouse. It may not be their top priority, but the absence of touch is affecting them negatively. Now remember, people fly from all over the country and world to come see me at Heart to Heart Counseling Center. I can’t tell you how many hundreds and hundreds of spouses say, “They don’t touch me.” I can tell you, everyone wants to be touched. Whether it’s a little or a lot, they want to be touched. Depending on how you’re doing, it can make someone build up resentment towards you.
Whoever is touching you has a voice in your life. I mean think about it—the people who have a voice into your heart and life also have access to touch. That’s why I’ve seen many guys go astray by a woman who touches them– touches their hands, their back, gives them a hug. I recently counseled a man in who developed a place in his heart for his massage therapist because he went there for a year and the touch created an emotional response from him. You want to really make sure that this is something you’re really on top of, because it’s kind of what we agreed to do when we said we would, “love, honor and cherish.” Part of cherishing is touching.
What are some of the types you give your spouse? I’m going to go through some types of touch here. Is your touch obligatory? Does it feel like you have to give them the hug, or that you have to touch them, or even have to have sex? If you’re coming from a place of obligation instead of “I get to,” you’re spouse is going to feel it and your touch might actually feel negative. You know that cold hug, where you let them hug you but you don’t hug back—if it feels cold physically, it’s probably going to feel cold in other areas towards your spouse. Is your touch the quick short touch and almost as if they’re hot and you’re going to burn yourself if you actually spend some time holding on? I hope not. Or is it minutes? You know a minute shoulder, a minute back rub here and there? Okay, we’re getting warmer. How about the five to ten minute touch session that’s nonsexual?
When was the last time you spent ten minutes touching your spouse when it wasn’t for or leading to a sexual encounter? Or during a sexual encounter? Where you just took off their shoes and rubbed their feet. Or you just happened to be walking around and you just wanted to hold them and touch them. What percentage of your touch leads up to sex? Guys, this is really important for you to hear. If you look at your touch throughout the week or two, and a majority of touch is leading up to sex, when you touch her, she automatically thinks, “He wants sex.” Then your touch is inadequate. Your touch could turn into a negative, and you start getting into that don’t touch me dance.
So make sure your touch isn’t about you, but make your touch about them– “I want to touch you. I want to please you. I want to relax you. This isn’t about me getting sex.” I’ve heard from thousands of women say, “Well he only touches me when he wants sex.” That is so sad. Don’t deprive your wife like that. How much of your touch is just playful? Just fun, hug you, kiss you, love you? Playful touch is fantastic.
How much touch do you give in your spouse in the sexual dance, in the foreplay during and after? That’s really important touch, so you want to take your time there. If you haven’t read our posts on “The Five Sex Languages,” they can help make this specific to your spouse. If your spouse is a patient sex language person, then you definitely have to be good at touch. You can find some of the principles of intimacy I’m talking to you about today in my book, “Intimacy: A 100-Day Guide to Lasting Relationships” or any of my marriage books. You really do want to touch your partner affectionately. A lack of touch for some people moves them to feel unloved, unwanted, unimportant, and can definitely lead to distance and resentment.
If this is an issue for you, if this is something you need to really work on, set some goals and check in with your spouse. Ask them, “Do I give you enough touch? Do you feel touched?” Hopefully they’ll smile back at you, “Yes honey, you’re doing a great job, you’re awesome to me. I feel like if you’re around, I’m probably just moments away from some kind of physical contact.” I hope that’s your story, I really do, and if it’s not, make it your story. Choose to be an incredible lover of your spouse or your partner so that everybody feels better.
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