A tender touch shows you care
2/26/1981 QUESTION: We have been married just over one year and there is something about my wife that I do not understand. Every once in a while she will want me to hold her in my arms for no apparent reason. I will ask her why and she will just say, “Hold me.” Not long ago I mentioned this to a friend of mine and he says his wife is the same way, particularly when she is irritable or upset. What is so great about a man holding his wife in his arms?
ANSWER: Such are the mysteries of life, my friend, and I am not sure I have the answer. But let’s see if we can probe it a bit.
As I have talked to various groups of married couples about love, I always ask the wives this question: “If you had to choose between being told you are loved and being shown you are loved, which would you choose?” Almost without exception, the answer is, “Show me” (Actually, they say they would prefer both, if possible) and holding your wife in your arms or just simply touching her, is a powerful way to show her that you love her.
It is apparently very difficult for the American male to be affectionate by touch without being sexual. Nor do we often see the need to do so. Yet in his book, “love-life,” Dr. Ed Wheat, marriage counselor and physician, has indicated the importance for husbands to ouch tier wives in nonsexual ways.
Dr. Wheat notes, “A tender touch tells us that we are cared for. It can calm our fears, soothe pain, bring us comfort, or give us the blessed satisfaction of emotional security. As adults, touching continues to be a primary means of communicating with those we love, whether we are conscious of it or not. Our need for a caring touch is normal and healthy and we will never outgrow it.”
Dr. Wheat continues, “But if touching is so valuable and pleasurable, why is it necessary to advise couples to do more of it? The answer lies in our culture. While our western civilization is highly sexual, it frowns on or ignores touching apart from sex. This is particularly true for men, for there are sonly three acceptable kinds of touching in today’s world: the superficial handshake, aggressive contact sports, and the sexual encounter. Men have been conditioned to turn to sex whenever they feel any need for loving closeness. No wonder experts believe that our extreme preoccupation with sex in this society is actually an expression of our deep unsatisfied need for the warmth, reassurance, and intimacy of non-sexual touching.”
Dr. Wheat concludes, “Physical contact is absolutely essential in building the emotion of love. Anything else you do will be of little avail unless you learn to touch each other often and joyfully in non-sexual ways. If you would like to kindle a flame in your own marriage, then begin to show your love through physical touching.”
In the popular Broadway musical, “My Fair Lady,” Eliza Doolittle sang the song “Show Me” to her lovelorn swain, Freddy Eynsford-Hill. The words were as follows:
Don’t talk of stars burning above,
If you’re in love, show me!
Tell me no dreams filled with desire,
If you’re on fire, show!
Here we are together in the middle of the night
Don’t talk of spring! Just hold me tight
Anyone who’s ever been in love, will tell you that
This is no time for a chat!
Haven’t’ your lips longed for my touch?
Don’t’ say how much, show me!
Don’t talk of love lasting through time,
Make me no undying vow
Show me. Now!
My advice to a husband is to frequently touch your wife and hold her in your arms when she wants you to. And don’t bother asking why. As the title of the old church hymn states. “Sometime We’ll Understand.”