The Language of Love- Marriage, Unwrapped

Young couple  in bed, toned black and white effect, vignette.

My husband likes to hold my hand during church and when we go for walks. He also likes to hold it in the car while we are driving. Somewhere some woman reading this is swooning, thinking “I would love it if my husband would hold my hand.”

I don’t want to seem unappreciative. I love that my husband wants to be close to me and express his affections but here is the thing- I don’t really like to be touched.

I’m not some sort of ice queen. As we know I am VERY pro “marital intimacy”. But as any friend who has ever tried to hug me in greeting can tell you I am not much of a hugger. I like a good massage by a professional and love a pedicure, but outside of that I pretty much don’t want people touching me. Even my hubby.

But guess what? I married a man whose love language is physical touch. Are you familiar with the The 5 Love Languages? The book has been around forever and the basic premise is that we “receive” love in one of 5 basic ways: Words of Affirmation, Quality Time, Receiving Gifts, Acts of Service, and Physical Touch.

Some husbands or wives may crave focused attention; another needs regular praise. Gifts are highly important to one spouse, while another sees fixing a leaky faucet, ironing a shirt, or cooking a meal as filling their “love tank.” Some partners might find physical touch makes them feel valued: holding hands, giving back rubs, and sexual contact. – Amazon.com review

So the problem is many of us “speak” a different language than our spouse. My primary love language happens to be Acts of Service. I have often told Ryan that the biggest turn on for me would be if he cleaned the kitchen. Flowers? Eh. Dinner and a movie? Not bad. But tackle that pile of pans in the sink? Hubba, hubba!

This might all sound like a little thing but I have watched many marriages over the years really go sour because one spouse or the other just isn’t “feeling” loved and appreciated. And usually the other spouse is going, “How can you not know I love you? I tell you all the time!!” While the spouse feeling neglected just wants him to put some time and thought into their anniversary gift.

It is crucial that we find out what makes our spouse feel cherished, adored and loved. Although communicating love in anyway is a good thing if our spouse isn’t “hearing” it because we aren’t “speaking” their language we might be spinning our wheels.

And just like we have to sacrifice in other areas of marriage this one might require some sacrifice too. Maybe bringing home flowers is easier than planning a date night. Maybe telling your spouse how much you admire and respect the hard work he does is super difficult but folding his laundry is a simple way to show him you care.

And maybe from time to time you will find me reach across the chair and grab my husbands hand during church. Or run my fingers through his hair (thankfully the man has amazing hair) while we sit on the couch. It isn’t my love language but his eyes light up when I do so and I know he feels love. Maybe a little hand holding isn’t so bad after all.

You can find all the Marriage, Unwrapped posts here.


  1. Yeah. I totally, totally get what you’re saying! My hubby’s love language is service…mine is all about the words of affirmation. We occasionally have to remind one another (kindly) what we need. Isn’t it nice to have that kind of openness?

    Thanks for this reminder! :)
    Susie Finkbeiner recently posted…Keeper an analogyMy Profile

  2. I can so relate to this! My hubby’s is physical touch and mine is definitely not. It used to drive me nuts when we were first married, because he couldn’t walk past me without smacking my rear. So we made a joke out of it, “I’m NOT a cow!!” It’s a race now to see who can say it first. We both read the 5 love languages early in our marriage and I’m sooo glad we did!

  3. My hubby and I have talked about this exact topic! Our love languages are different and unless he and I put forth effort to show each other love in the other’s persons language it can be really hard. At the same time, we have to remember that we express love differently and to open our eyes to what the other person is doing to love us.
    Sarah recently posted…It’s the Little Joys in LifeMy Profile

  4. Jamie @ See Jamie blog says:

    Yes! When I first read that book, I kept thinking of specific couples – including my own parents — who probably could’ve stayed married, happily, if they’d just learned & done these things. Like you, physical touch is not my thing but very high on my hubby’s list, & I’m learning to appreciate it in order to make him feel loved.

  5. I could’ve written this myself! Hubby’s is physical touch, and mine is gifts… I would spend all this time picking out the perfect gift for him, and be absolutely crushed when I got no gift from him… And all he wants is for me to touch him. We’ve worked hard at this… and I tell you, having kids set me back – they touch me ALL day long, and when DH gets home, I am over-touched and don’t want to be touched at all!!! I’m still working through that!
    Leigh recently posted…@TazaCnC mmmmmmmm…very tempt…My Profile

    • The toddler phase is VERY hard when it comes to touch. I am all touched out most days from having kids hanging on me. But I need to get over it and put my husband’s needs first. Great point!!

  6. I think I have a love-hate relationship with the 5 Love Languages book. On the one hand, I have at least two that I suspect are my dominant preferences. On the other hand, I want them all! My husband and I have talked about this and he’s the same way. Things that I couldn’t care less about with other people (including touch, because I don’t really like forced intimacies like handshakes or hugs), are very important to me from my husband.

    I don’t think that something as complicated as marriage can be distilled down into 5 things that each spouse can do. “Well, my husband and I haven’t spent any time together, done anything nice for each other, given each other anything or touched recently, but at least he affirms me with his words.” Not gonna work for this chick.

    All that said, I still give away copies of Chapman’s book to newly married couples because I think it can help start an important dialogue. (Side note: my favorite book about marriage is Love and Respect by Emmerson Eggerichs. I give that one away too.) Thanks for so many great thought-provoking posts about marriage!
    Karen@Candid Diversions recently posted…Look Worthy Links – 6-4-11 EditionMy Profile

    • I think it is a good basis for discussion and understanding. I think even Chapman says in the book that we all need to speak all languages fluently. If my husband stopped touching me completely I would definitely be sad.

      Love and Respect is amazing. The author goes to my church so we are big fans!!

  7. I’m the complete opposite! I love the long hugs :) I agree with you it is important to communicate your preference and also be sensitive to your hubby’s needs at the same time! thanks for your post it just occurred to me that I need to have this discussion! even after nearly 8 years of marriage. I tell you marriage is tricky!

  8. nikki says:

    This post is spot on. Thank you!
    And Please tell me I’m not the only one who has changed their love language over the course of their marriage? I’ve been married 12 years now. My husband’s love language has ALWAYS been affirmation. When we were first married, my premarital counseling book will show you mine was Touch. That seemed obvious at the time–I was young and a tad excited to be married if you know what I mean! But, once I started nursing a baby, not so much. touching didn’t work for me. It swiftly moved to desperately needing affirmation. This phase in my life was new and I was certain I was doing everything wrong. I needed my mate to encourage me to keep going. Now that I’ve been seasoned into the toddler years, I’m with you. Service goes a LONG way. And nothing floats my boat more than scrubbing any hard surface in the house. If it’s in the bathroom, there’s major bonus points. And thanks to daily communication, my hubby knows this and is more than willing to focus on any love language I’m leaning towards. Yes, I married a winner! I might be a tad indecisive….good thing he knows this, too :)

    • I can totally relate to what you are saying. I think the touch thing gets harder during the toddler years when you are ALWAYS being touched. Suddenly service is looking REALLY good.

  9. Ughhhhh. So many of our little issues (also known as my complaints!) go back to this. My husband is awesome and our marriage is great, but I look forward to the day when this clicks for his brain!
    Mary @ Giving Up on Perfect recently posted…School’s Out for Summer!My Profile

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