In the poem Desiderata, good advice is given:
“Be yourself, especially do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love…”
When dating, it seems easy to give and receive physical affection. When first married, couples can hardly keep their hands off each other. After a while though, people settle into life together and for some the “spark” seems to fade.
Whether it fades a little or a lot, physical touch of any kind often is among the first to suffer. Physical affection takes many forms: pat on the back, holding hands, hand on the leg, hugs, kisses, sexual intimacy, massages, etc.
Why is physical affection important? We warm-blooded creatures find comfort in the warm reassurance we feel when we get from physical contact.
What couples find when they try to rekindle the spark is that it isn’t gone, but it doesn’t come as easily. They have to work at it. Wise couples realize that they still need to put each other and each others’ needs first.
In the various times and seasons of our lives together as married couples, we find touch comes into play for so many reasons. As comfort in time of crisis, a hand to hold and arms to enfold you are a welcome retreat from the issues we face. In times of passion, we are able to express love to each other very intimately.
In our daily lives, physical affection can be a constant reminder of each others love. When you leave in the morning and when you get home in the evening, a kiss and a hug in your routine is a great example of keeping in touch. When you sit on the couch to watch a movie sit right next to one another.
Touch isn’t always welcome, so be careful to use it in the right times and the right ways. The patterns of touch can be learned together through trial and error. If you like a touch, tell her. I tell my wife every time she scratches my head, neck and back that its appreciated. Make sure the conversation on the topic is open at all times, don’t push each other away through unwanted touch – keep each other informed and respect the boundaries when you run up against them.
The more couples work at it, the more natural and habitual it becomes, so that “spark” you though you lost; it really just matured into a smoldering hot burning coal.
Here’s the practical advice:
- Boundaries – don’t cross the boundary without permission. If she doesn’t want you to do something, don’t do it.
- Expectations – if you feel you’re not where you want to be, talk about it. Set a goal. Try things out. For example, if you are just getting back into physical touch, plan together to hold hands whenever you are walking or sitting next to each other.
- Love – Remember that you touch out of love for each other. You can have fun with it of course (in our home, I will work for kisses), but especially in the case of sexual intimacy, it should be an expression of your love for each other NOT a club to beat your partner over the head with as a punishment for not remembering your 3 month wedding anniversary.
- Touch all the time – don’t just touch when you want something from your partner. Give her the gentle reminders of a hand on the knee or shoulder rub that you love her.
Above all else: Love Your Wife