By Dr. David B. Hawkins, Crosswalk.com
It was an “errand day” around the Hawkins home today. We headed out to do a bit of this and that. As we headed down the highway my wife Christie placed her hand on my leg, which is her custom.
Because this is a ritual for us I hardly noticed, but for some reason, on this day I found her simple touch quite nice. She didn’t say anything or make a fuss about me—a simple, gentle touch.
It wasn’t just a touch, of course, because so much research has been done on the power of touch. Studies show that touch is a powerful way to convey meaning to another person, and that we interpret touch by way of who it is that is doing the touching. In my case, I knew it was my wife showing that she cared for me and wanted contact with me. Her touch was nice and reassured me of her care for me.
Touch is important from the beginning of our lives, and the touch between mother and infant has been shown to impact and enhance the attachment between mother and child. Touch is the first of the senses to develop in the infant and the connection between mother and child is fostered by touch.
Touch is critically important to our emotional development. A mother’s touch has been found to even mitigate pain with infants. Tiffany Field, director of the Touch Research Institute has linked touch, in the form of massage, to many benefits including better sleep, reduced irritability and increased sociability among infants.
You cannot touch without being touched in return which adds to the power of the experience. A touch, combined with a loving gaze and kind words, adds a powerful impact. There is something very basic and powerful about a loving touch.
We notice that touch is woven throughout Scripture. In a most poignant story, Jesus went to Bethsaida and some people begged Jesus to touch a blind man. “He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked ‘Do you see anything?’ He looked up and said ‘I see people; they look like trees walking around.’ Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly.” (Mark 8: 22-25)
What a marvelous story about touch. The man is healed by touch. Jesus leads him by touch and ministers to him by touch and finishes the healing by way of touch.
Let’s consider what we can learn from this story and the story of my wife touching me on our drive today:
First, remember that touch conveys a powerful message. A simple, loving touch is more than a simple touch. Touch conveys a sense of caring, compassion and in some cases, consolation. Touch most often conveys love and caring.
Second, consider the message you want to convey. What is it that you want to convey? Remember that touch, appropriately timed and placed, shouts with meaning, especially to the person’s whose “love language” is touch. Even for the person whose primary “love language” is not touch, touch can be powerful. What message do you want to convey?
Third, recognize we never outgrow the need to be touched. Unfortunately, many cultures begin to train children and young adults to avoid touch. This is unfortunate since so much research documents the healing power of touch. Be careful to convey to your children, and mate, that touch is good and healing, no matter the age.
Fourth, understand the powerful connection of touch. It is impossible to overestimate the power of touch. While adults tend to not think about touch very often, our bodies and minds actually respond very favorably to healing, healthy touch.
Finally, continue to nurture your relationship through touch. As you continue to cultivate your marital relationship, nurture touch within your marriage as well. Make it a point to maintain touch in the form of a hug, embrace, holding hands and engaging in sexual intimacies.
Take a moment to consider how you and your mate are doing when it comes to touch. Have you made it safe to touch each other in safe and healthy ways? Please send responses to me at [email protected] and also read more about The Marriage Recovery Center on our website. You’ll find videos and podcasts on sexual addiction, emotionally destructive marriages, codependency and affair-proofing your marriage.