Everyone has their own preferred love language, and all are equally important. But there is a compelling argument that I am about to make in which physical touch is the most important. This is because, unlike every other love language, you are not able to get your physical touch love language met by other people in your life. When spouses who don’t prioritize physical touch and minimize their spouse’s need for physical affection, including sex, cuddling, kissing, they are leaving their partner in an impossible situation.
Many women (sometimes men) minimize the importance of physical touch, including sex, to their husbands (wives). Yet, they would never minimize the importance of a hug or a cuddle to their child who seeks out those forms of love and connection. The partner with a physical touch love language that isn’t being touched can start to feel desperately lonely because there is no way to get touch or certainly sexual touch from anyone but their spouse, who doesn’t care to give it. This is a slippery slope that turns away from your marriage and turns towards temptation.
Words of affirmation, quality time, gifts and acts of service can all be obtained from other sources, friends, and family members. Physical touch is the only one that cannot and should not. In “Cana Prep,” pre marriage workshop, it’s called “the Holiest of the Holy.” Of course, someone with a deep need for romantic words of affirmation also cannot get this need met, without slipping towards an emotional affair, but they can get affirmed by their kids, friends, and at work. There is a difference.
If you are the lower libido partner, it is essential to see that you are putting your higher libido/physical touch partner in an impossible situation by denying their need for physical touch. This is particularly bad in situations where the woman is the lower libido partner, which is more common. Ladies, affirm your husbands sexually and remember that you have the power to build this man up. It should not be conditional in marriage, it’s serving one another.
If you feel like your own needs for affirmation, quality time, or other love languages are not being met by your physical touch love language partner, try to increase the amount of sexual and nonsexual physical touch you give them. Waiting for them to change first won’t work because they are trapped by their desperation and resentment from being denied the basic human need of touch that they cannot obtain elsewhere. Plus it is conditional. Both men and women with high physical touch needs who are denied touch by partners can become bitter, angry, and emotionally withdrawn to protect themselves from further hurt.
Share with your different-love-language partner and discuss. If you would not deny your child a hug but deny your partner affection and sex, this is the same level of cruelty. Everyone would agree that a partner denying the other one the words of appreciation or affection is cruel and avoidant but somehow the denial of sex and physical touch are considered different. This is illogical and contributes to a lot of marital dysfunction. Emotional intimacy is just as important. You can read about it here.
Sex is perhaps the most powerful God-created way to help you give your entire self to another human being. Sex is God’s design for two people to reciprocally say to one another, ‘I belong completely and exclusively to you. Sexual intimacy in marriage unites couples together, in one-flesh.
The most successful couples put one another’s needs ahead of their own. If you don’t transform it, you will transmit it.
Silvia Farag, MSW, LSW, PsyD Candidate runs the Christian Center for Counseling and works with adolescent and adult clients in individual, couples & family therapy. Her personal philosophy is that through human connection, we can foster the encouragement needed to take courageous steps toward creating positive change. She uses evidenced based and strengths-based approaches & believes in the inherent ability of everyone to overcome when they are willing to step into their potential. Therapy illuminates the path so the client can make conscious steps towards emotional health. Her attitude is one of respect and acceptance of each client’s individuality, allowing for the creation of a safe, therapeutic space. Silvia serves with Coptic Women Fellowship, an archdiocese ministry focused on enriching, supporting, and strengthening the lives of women, along with the clergy and several accomplished women of the Coptic Orthodox Archdiocese of North America.