***This is the sixth post in a series of 6 about the Five Love Languages in marriage. I suggest reading them in order. Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
It should not surprise you to know that physical touch is an important part of love and marriage. However, for some people, it is the most important part. A loving hand, kiss, or full body contact can fill this person’s love tank faster than any other expression of love.
Let’s get real ladies. We all know what people, even experts, say about men and sex. They say it is an actual physical need. But let me assure you that not every man’s primary love language is Physical Touch, although sex may be extremely important to him. Dr. Chapman even points out that many men mistakenly believe, right off the bat, that physical touch is their primary love language based on the importance they place on sex. However, if you were to take away the expression of love in their actual primary love language, with sex still being available to them, they would most likely withdraw.
What are the different dialects?
There are many different ways to touch someone in order to make them feel loved but here are the basic 2 in marriage.
1. Making Love
Making love is a critical part of marriage but it is even more significant for people who speak this dialect of Physical Touch. If this is your spouse’s dialect, please remember that every time you deny him that, he will feel more rejected than most. It is common, in marriage, to allow external pressures to take away from our intimacy with our partner. Perhaps you feel exhausted after a day of work, cleaning, and putting the kids to bed and sex is the last thing on your mind. Do not forget the power you have and the love you would be denying your spouse if you ignored his advances. If this is the way he feels loved, you must decide how willing you are to fill his love tank. Just as with any other love language, this one act of intimacy can be the difference between a thriving marriage and a dying one.
2. Other forms of touch
You may be surprised to realize that although making love is definitely important, your spouse actually speaks another dialect in the love language of Physical Touch. When I was dating my husband he would often ask me to rub his back. I knew he worked hard and was often sore at the end of the day so I would gladly rub his back for him. When we got married, he continued to ask for back rubs and to be frank, with time it got annoying. Sleep is critical for me, so I would sometimes turn down his request and tell him I was too tired.
Our first major fight was actually over this. I remember he was so upset and said that I had spoiled him and gotten him used to back massages and it wasn’t fair. I thought he was acting like a child. He left the house in what I considered to be a tantrum. Finally, after 6 years of marriage and reading this book, I realized how important back massages were to him. It wasn’t just because he was sore, this was a legitimate concern for him because when I denied him a back rub, he felt that I didn’t love him.
I asked him to take the love language profile and physical touch came in first, with quality time a close second. I already knew what dialect he spoke and so in the last few weeks I have made sure to take 5 minutes or so at the end of most days to offer him a back massage. In the beginning, it was kind of a joke. He would say, “Wow, I feel so loved!” You wouldn’t believe my delight when walking through the door after work one night, I saw what had once been a sink full of dirty dishes, all washed and drying. He smiled when he saw my reaction. I think we finally get it.
Of course, there are many dialects and ways to express love through Physical Touch. Some are more explicit such as love making, cuddling, and back massages. However, sometimes touch can be more implicit and casual such as running your hands through his hair, a quick kiss before he leaves, or even a hand on his shoulder as you pass by. It may take a little time to figure out what kinds of touches communicate love most effectively to your spouse. Once you find them, use them often and see how your spouse’s attitude changes.
How do I know if this is my or my spouse’s love language?
Dr. Chapman offers a few different ways to check if this is either your or your spouse’s love language.
1. Do either of you express love in this love language? Do you feel that your spouse is often hugging, kissing, or touching you in some way? Do you try to cuddle with your spouse every chance you get? Is it critical for you to hug or kiss your spouse before you part?
2. What are your complaints like? Does your husband ever mention how much it hurts him when you turn down his advances in bed? Do you feel offended when your husband pulls away from you when you’re trying to cuddle or hold hands? Does he complain that you are not responsive to his touches?
3. What kinds of requests do you make? Does he ask for back massages? Do you ask for a kiss when you come home? Does your spouse ever request you make love more often?
How can I express it?
So let’s say you have discovered that your spouse’s love language might be Physical Touch. How do you speak it then?
Here are a few ideas:
• If back massages are a big deal to him, invest some time and maybe even money in learning to be a good masseuse. Then make sure you get lots of practice in. I’m sure he’ll be more than willing to be your guinea pig.
• Make it a point to initiate intimacy with your spouse the next time. For someone whose love language is physical touch and love making is their primary dialect, this will speak love louder than ever to him!
• Try making a conscious effort to touch your spouse more frequently. Making your kisses more available, your hugs more heartfelt, and random love touches more significant.
• Try asking your spouse how he wants to be touched. If he’s open to talking about it, this will put you on the fast track to finding what works and what doesn’t.
So what if you feel like your spouse isn’t really responding to your loving touches? The most likely answer is that it isn’t his primary love language. If this is the case, check out the other posts about the other 4 love languages.
If you’re sure it is his primary love language but he still isn’t responding, there may be more going on. If you have struggled in your marriage for a while, it is possible he is interpreting your touch as manipulation. He may believe the marriage is over and it’s too late. Either of these options doesn’t have to mean the end of your marriage. Stay consistent in expressing love in the language that means the most to him, without expectation of receiving anything in return. Do this for an extended period of time, Dr. Chapman suggests at least six months. It is hard to maintain a cold heart when a person is loving you, in the way you understand and appreciate, without conditions.
If you’re still on the fence about whether or not Physical Touch is your husband’s primary love language, try an experiment. For an entire week (or more if needed), try some of the above mentioned ideas for ways to express love to your spouse through touch. Do at least one every single day. Do it with the desire to make him feel your love, without expecting anything in return. Make a note on your phone to write down your observations. If there is a drastic shift in his attitude, you’ve probably found a winner. If not, check out the other posts about the other 4 love languages to see if there is one better fitted to your spouse.
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Is Physical Touch your love language? Or your spouse’s? I want to hear about it! How do you feel loved? How do you express love through touch?