Speaking Love through Physical Touch

March 16, 2009

Keeping emotional love alive in a marriage makes life much more enjoyable. How do we keep love alive after the “in-love” emotions have evaporated? I believe it is by learning to speak each other’s “love language.” This week we will focus on physical touch.

For some husbands, when they hear the words physical touch, they immediately think of sex. But sexual intercourse is only one of the dialects of this love language. Holding hands, kissing, embracing, back rubs, or an arm around the shoulder are all ways of expressing love by physical touch.

Physical touch can make or break a marital relationship. Do you know how to speak this love language? To the spouse whose primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than your tender touches. You may give them words of affirmation or gifts, but nothing communicates love like physical touch.

Touches may be explicit and call for your full attention, such as a back rub or sexual foreplay. They can be implicit and require only a moment, such as putting your hand on his shoulder as you pour a cup of coffee. Once you discover that physical touch is the primary love language of your spouse, you are limited only by your imagination. Kiss when you get in the car. It may greatly enhance your travels. Give a hug before you go shopping. You may hear less griping when you return. Remember, you are learning to speak a new language.

When you reach out with tender touch, you create emotional closeness. This is especially true if the primary love language of your spouse is physical touch. You may say, “What if I’m just not a toucher? I didn’t grow up in a touchy-feely family.” The good news is that you can learn to speak this love language. It can begin with a pat on the back, or putting your hand on their leg as you sit together on the couch.

Almost instinctively in a time of crisis, we hug one another. Why? During these times, we need to feel loved more than anything. All marriages will experience crises. Disappointments are a part of life. The most important thing you can do for your wife in a time of crisis is to love her. If her primary love language is physical touch, nothing is more important than holding her as she cries. Your words may mean little, but your physical touch will communicate that you care. In a time of crisis, a hug is worth more than a thousand words. Physical touch is a powerful love language.

Have you ever had a time when you were in need of a hug? What do you do to let others know that you need a gesture of physical touch? What do you do if your spouse’s love language is physical touch, but you’re not “touchy-feely”?


  1. My husband’s primary love language is physical touch and I’ve had to learn to speak it more often. I’ve had to plan it out sometimes just so I don’t forget. It is not totally automatic yet but a lot better than before.

  2. Touch is my love language, but my husband is not from a touchy-feely family. Since reading “The Five Love Language” in our early married days he has worked hard at expressing love to me in a way I readily accept. I have to remember though that sometimes I need to ask for a hug when I’m needing one. Asking doesn’t lessen the giving, or reduce its effectiveness. And my hubby is a great guy – but not a mind reader!

  3. My primary love language is physical touch. My wife says that I am too touchy feely, and I overwhelm her with love & affection. I know I have to "limit" how much love/affection I express to her, and it is difficult/confusing.

  4. My girlfriend and I both have physical touch as our primary love language, and quality time as our second, so we end up spending long periods of time hugging. We're actually struggling to find enough time in the day to build it in, and often end up staying at each other's houses until 3 or 4am simply because we hate to be physically separated! We're trying to control this as we can't afford to be tired all the time, but the urge to be together is very strong. How can we regulate ourselves and still get the physical touch and time we need?

  5. I would like to find out the answer to Phil’s question. My girlfriend and I have the same problem. We just want to be near each other all the time and when we have to go home at the end of the night it is almost painful. We have such a great relationship too. She is my best friend in the whole world and we just need to find a way to regulate ourselves as well as get the physical touching in too.

  6. my husband knows my primary language is physical touch, during our first years of marriage he used to touch me all the time, he had a mechanical car and used to wish to have an automatic car so he could always hold my hand while he was driving, 6 years later he barely touches me, he tries to hug me or pat my back but it feels so fake, like a big effort or a favor, I look good I am 27, he is 45 I do not know what is the problem, he says that he is hurt and can’ touch me because he does not like me but if I don’t feel love is very hard for me to love him back. what to do?

  7. My fiance and i are battling this right now. My love language is touch, and his is more like quality time. We have been struggling hard, cuz i feel unloved and unwanted by him but i know he loves me and cares. How can i get him to understand?

  8. Kailey, I’m sure you have tried many of these things, but just keep talking to him about it. Use I statements such as, I like to be physically close to you, it makes me feel loved, and when you are not close to me, I feel like you don’t love me as much. Now I know that you do love me and like to spend lots of time with me, so what if we spent time together, while being physically close?
    Try to tell him your favorite physical things. Like do you like to be kissed before you leave for work?
    Sometimes you just have to ask him to touch you how you need to be touched. Perhaps he will learn and it will be habit forming.

    I don’t know. I am eighteen and single. But I know that there are many ways that your love languages can be combined. Just say what you feel, what you think, and what you want.

    best of luck to you

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