Valentine’s Day is coming up, so it’s all about love. Since my last name is Love, the least I could do is write something about an important aspect of love. In a marriage, nothing says love like the power of physical touch and it has always been one of the best ways to convey love. For me, a physical touch whether it is kiss on the forehead, a hug, a gentle brush when we walk by one another, holding hands or our feet touching in the night, I know that I am loved.
Typically Monday through Friday, my husband and I go to work out together. Even though we go together we really don’t work out together. However, we both like to start out by walking or jogging around the track before we move to weights or the elliptical, etc. Just so happened the other morning, we decided to walk around the track together to finish our discussion about current events. Before we knew it we were walking around the track holding hands because that’s what we typically do when we walk together. Never mind all the people in the gym getting their work out on. We were in our own little world talking and laughing and holding hands. We didn’t really think anything of our behavior until one of the guys ran by us and looked back giving us a thumb's up and saying “how cute”.
Physical touch is crucial to a marital relationship, but did you know that physical touch is actually good for your health? In a study done by Gallace and Spence in 2010, individuals who received pre-stress partner contact had lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure than the no contact group. Also according to the experts, women who are hugged more often from their partners have significantly lower blood pressure levels. You may be familiar with the child development studies that show babies who are held, cuddled are much healthier emotionally. On the other hand, those who have been deprived of physical touch may not fare well even into their adult lives.
If you have ever read the Five Love Languages written by Gary Chapman, you know that there are some spouses who speak the love language of physical touch. If one’s primary love language is physical touch, they will feel unloved without it. However, when there is hand holding, kissing, embracing and sexual intercourse for the same person, their love tank will be on full.
Why is touch so important to us? Rather than give you a science lesson on how your somatic sensory system is responsible for your sense of touch, I will give you the simple version. Our bodies are covered in skin which contains over 5 million receptors. When our receptors are stimulated, they send an instantaneous electrical message to our brain by way of the spinal cord to interpret the touch. That’s why it is so easy when you dig in your purse without looking to be able to tell your lipstick tube from your keys.
When you touch something in your purse, the sensory receptors in your hands automatically start relaying the message to your brain for you to know what you touching. The same process happens when we are touched. Our brain quickly interprets the nature of the touch. That’s why the touch of our doctor or chiropractor feels different emotionally than the touch of our spouse. I know my brain reacts differently when my chiropractor gives me a massage on my neck versus when my husband gives me a neck rub. My chiropractor’s touch is a healing one and I interpret my husband’s touch as one of love.
Gary Smalley in his book entitled One Flame: How to Weather the Five Winds in Your Marriage, offers some great ways to add a touch of love to your marriage.
1. Hug when you leave each other in the morning and when you see each other in the evening. (Go ahead and kiss too).
2. Work in the kitchen or at some other project together. Be playful, letting your bodies brush against each other now and then.
3. Put extra lotion on your hands, and ask to rub the left over cream onto your spouse’s hands. Offer to give your spouse a hand massage.
4. Sit together when watching television or a movie and make sure you have contact with your spouse’s body in some type of way.
5. Offer to give your spouse a massage. Take the time to do it right.
6. Hold hands when you’re driving in the car together. Make up your own private sign language – such as three hand squeezes to communicate “I love you.”
7. Kiss more often. Freshen your breath, soften your lips and have at it. Don’t limit your kissing to pecking. Song of Songs 7:9 (CEV) says, “Kissing you is more delicious than drinking the finest wine. How wonderful and tasty.”
8. Allow yourself to be intimate in places you haven’t thought of before. – the clothes closet, the shower, the kitchen. Spontaneous touch is always a good thing. Song of Songs 7:12 says, “At dawn let’s slip out and see if grapevines and fruit trees are covered with blossoms. When we are there, I will give you my love.”
As we celebrate love during the month of February, don’t forget the power of touch. A relationship can improve or decline based on the type of physical touch shared. Give a touch of love regularly and watch your marriage improve for the better. Take the time to learn from your spouse so you will know what they appreciate and value most in relation to touch. Don’t know how your spouse wants to be touched? Just ask them, because they are the expert.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Janice R Love, Author
First Lady, Mom, Stepmom and Divorce Ministry Coach