Love Language #5: Physical Touch

by | Aug 28, 2009 | love, relationships

This post is #6 in part of a series of posts about The Five Love Languages. For more information, ready my Sunday, 8/23 post and click on the title above to visit The Five Love Language website.

Physical Touch is the last of the five love languages. Physical Touch is a powerful communicator of love. I know, not only because Dr. Gary Chapman says so, but because the two men in our home have this as one of their love languages…Bill and Zach. This is not one of mine…it’s not that I don’t like to be touched (I love my monthly massage), it’s just not as important to me for me to feel loved. But it is for Bill and Zach.

Personal Touch is not a new concept. It has been proven time and time again that babies who are held, hugged, and kissed early on in their lives develop a healthier emotional life that those who are left alone for long periods of time with no physical contact. As parents, when one of our children gets hurt, we run to their rescue to hug and hold them, don’t we? When a friend is in crisis, we hug them, put our hand on their shoulder, hold their hand, etc. When we meet someone for the first time, many times it’s with a hand shake.

Zach likes to have his back scratched and rubbed at bedtime. He also likes to have me run my fingers through his hair before falling asleep. He leans into me many times when we are in the same space for me to wrap my arm(s) around him. At church he does the same to me many times during the service, and I put my arm around him and hold him there next to me. When we are sitting together, he often leans his head against my shoulder. He likes to be touched.

In a marriage, Dr. Chapman says, “Holding hands, kissing, embracing, and sexual intercourse are all ways of communicating emotional love to one’s spouse. For some individuals, physical touch is their primary love language. Without it, they feel unloved. With it, their emtional tank is filled, and they feel secure in the love of their spouse.”

Finding out Bill’s love language was a “lighbulb moment” for me. (You know, when the lightbulb in your head comes on about something?) It explained to me why he needed to be touched physically to feel connected with me. I thought that he should need to spend time with me first to feel connected before having any sort of physical contact. I was wrong…I was coming from my perspective and what I needed to feel connected and loved. It was the opposite of what he needed. Bill is naturally more willing to give me Quality Time after he’s feeling loved and connected with me through me touching him, and I am naturally more willing to give him Physical Touch after he spends time with me. Can you see how that was a problem? We both had to give in order to meet each other’s need for love.

Physical Touch is more than just sexual intimacy, even though for many that’s a big part of it. It also includes other things like holding hands while riding in the car, or while sitting next to each other on the couch. Hugging, embracing, and kissing each other when leaving the house or coming back home is another form of Physical Touch. Giving a backrub, running your fingers through your spouse’s hair, gently rubbing your spouse’s sore muscles are also ways to show love. Brushing against each other in the hallway, or while cooking dinner together can also show love to someone who’s love language is Personal Touch.

If touching does not come naturally to you, but you are thinking it’s your spouse’s love language, start small. Try to find some way different each day to touch your spouse lovingly. Pretty soon, it won’t seem so unnatural. If sexual intimacy is an area of concern for you, openly bring the subject up in conversation with your spouse, so you can begin to share how each of you are feeling about that area of your marriage. As always, when something is brought out into the open, it can be dealt with. Then progress and healing, if necessary, can begin to take place.

How should we communicate with someone who has Physical Touch as their love language? A lot of non-verbals, and verbals need to be word pictures. Actions? Touches, hugs, pats, kisses. What to avoid? Physical neglect or abuse.

A simple touch can be an emotional lifeline for someone whose language is Physical Touch. Is there someone in your life who speaks this language, and needs you to speak it back to them?
Tomorrow we will wrap up this series on The Five Love Languages. 🙂
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