Touch me… okay, not like that!

As part of the debut of my new series, “Be her hero: how NOT to suck as a husband” this week’s posts will focus on marriage.

Behavioral scientists have coined a term called, “SKIN HUNGER.” It’s a deprivation of touch—the skin is actually hungry for affection. Hunger as in starved, famished, having an appetite for, desiring, wanting.

Guys can be pretty stupid about this reality in marriage. Many think that if they’re having sex that their wife is getting the physical attention she needs. That’s not the case… they need more touch!

Non-sexual touch plays an important part in the emotional connection within marriage. When speaking with men, I’ll usually term non-sexual touch as: “Affection without motivation.”

Our skin thrives on touch. We respond emotionally to those who touch us.

When a waitress puts her hand on your shoulder guys it’s not because she’s attracted to you. She’s subtly touching you because research has told her that you’ll tip better when you’re touched—there’s an emotional connection.

Phyllis Davis, in her book The Power of Touch: The Basis for Survival, Health, Intimacy, and Emotional Well-Being writes:

“Some people confuse skin hunger with restlessness, sexual desire, loneliness, or stomach hunger. We go to great lengths to satisfy our skin hunger without ever realizing what it is that we need. We attempt to satisfy it with food, with drugs, with entertainment; by burying ourselves in work, in talk, in activities, or with promiscuity. Yet it remains, this desire for the most basic form of communication—touching.”

I realize this is a stereotype, but women often need non-sexual touch for connection… this connection can lead to arousal. Men rarely need touch for arousal… (they simply need oxygen). Men will often experience an emotional connection with their wives after sex.

Take an inventory within your marriage—is there touching, snuggling, hand-holding, massage, foot rubs, and subtle touches as you walk by one another (not groping and grabbing)? If not, consider what it will take to add non-sexual touch into your marriage.

While it may not seem that important… it’s a big deal! And, according to best-seller The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts physical touch is one of the primary ways your spouse feels loved. So, pour it on this week and get touchy.


Question: what’s an example of non-sexual touch within your marriage? Share your ideas here.


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  • Krista Salazar

    Hammock time together under the stars! Cuddling, chatting, sharing highs & lows from our day etc on the couch. 15 second kiss when he gets home followed by a caring hug, back rubs with music on (Pandora on the cell phone is always ready & handy) Air Supply is always awesome! Opening my car door, holding hands, offering to take a walk on the trail, kids on their bikes, hand in hand while walking the dog…kids need to see that kind, caring affection displayed between mom & dad…not the “grouse”, sexual kind.

  • msarlo

    The love language that is the furthest down on my chart is touch. For me it can.quickly turn to irritation. On the other hand it’s my husbands #1 (no surprise there), but I have had to make a conscious effort to meet hiy.s needs in a non-sexual way. I have discovered that simply taking a moment to sit on his lap or hold his hand in public, speaks volumes. He explained that by my lack of touch,.it actually created feeling of rejection, never my intent. And lastly, a good old fashion back rub for a few minutes is all I need.

  • Adam

    My non-sexual touch towards my wife is frequently when we ride in the car together. I will put my hand on her leg as we go down the road just as a simple reminder that “I’m here for you and I love you.” I maintain an innocence in the touch as it does not expect reciprocation.

    • dougfields

      that’s great!

  • Laura

    Interesting! I am a Catholic and every Mass we share a sign of peace a handshake ” Peace be with you” its one of the highlights of the Mass for me reading this it made me reflect on all the lonely people who would be deprived of touch. Maybe this would be the only time another person made contact with them.

    • dougfields

      Some people come to church/mass and haven’t been hugged/touched all week. What a gift that can be from the Body.

  • Connie

    Wow! I totally see that. That is probably what I seem to be majorly missing (plus more) in my marriage of 25 years. I’ve hit a point that I don’t even know what’s up anymore because I am having issues that my husband seems to be on a different planet lately. It’s like, “where did my husband go?” For the last year i’ve been struggling and when i seem to hurt deep and start to cry because he says something wrong to me, (as example last time) I started crying sitting in the drivers seat in our driveway, and he said, “boo hoo, just start crying again.” That even hurt more, and it was all over him stating a phrase and asking me, ” where are all these cans and beer bottles from, as I don’t drink any beer and he knows this, but my daughter’s boyfriend does, (age 27) and i didn’t ever see any that he was referring to, so I just stated that I knew Joe, (daughter’s bf) drank busch beer, so i have no idea, and he just started screaming at me assuming that i was sticking up for him, and i never know what to say to him at times, even though i try to say what he wants to hear. My husband is a narcissist, as i just found out, and that’s why he always seems to put blame on others and never states he’s sorry or reccognizes his faults, and makes things back fire at me, as it’s all my fault. I do seriously miss the non-sexual touches. I can’t remember the last time he put his arm around me (except for a photo that was taken). I’ve felt like sometimes all i’ve needed is a hug, but i don’t get that. I do everything for my husband, and nothing is enough for him. I get no respect or touch at all, and I’ve got to the point i don’t even know what I shall do. I’ve been with my husband for 27 years, and we share 3 grown kids, and I thought life was grand, but in this last year it’s all been a down hill.

    • dougfields

      Connie….so sorry for the hurt that seems to be happening in your life.

  • Suffering in silence

    I had lost my mother and was very hurt, within 6 months the relationship of 15 years terminated. I was so heartbroken that i withdrew from everyone thinking I needed to get over it. Well after 10 years I didn’t know how to connect with people anymore. I keep a wall between myself and them. Now it is 20 years since I have had any relationship where I am given love. I crave hugs so bad that I pull away from people that go to hug me. Not because I don’t want them to touch me but because I am afraid of not letting them go. When I just think of someone hugging me, I break down crying and am afraid that will happen if I am hugged. I was going to a church that during the sign of peace it was customary for people to hug not shake hands. I would be crying by the time the period was over. I was ashamed that I am that needy so I stopped going. I have lots of friends and family and no one knows how I am feeling. I hide it from everyone and apear like I am the jollyest person. I hide it because I do not like to make people feel uncomfortable by being emotional. So I am home alone at night and or weekends crying and hoping my secret is not discovered. ‘Suffering from skin hunger 20 years’

    • dougfields

      Wow! That’s deep stuff my friend! My suggestion is to come clean with 1 of your friends. Secrets cause us to suffer in silence (which is what you’re doing). There’s hope and healing waiting for you.