The Power Of Touch In Marriage
Physical touch is such a powerful and amazing gift from God. He designed us for it. We need it. And it is physically, spiritual and emotionally damaging when we avoid it or do not get enough of it. In this episode, we discuss why Physical touch is so important and we give some practical tips on how to touch and be touched more.
- Embracing each other says “I trust you and need you in my life.”
- A comforting hug says, “I’m here for you.”
- A kiss says, “You are mine! And I love you!”
- Holding hands lets your spouse know you like them and like spending time with them.
- Tickle rubs, massages, running your fingers through their hair says, “I want to make you feel good.” ...And most times lets them know you desire more physical touch.
Being married and living in that sacred space of physical closeness, embrace, touch...there is no other relationship like it on Earth. Make the time to send those messages of love to your spouse through touch.
[Aaron] Hey, we're Aaron and Jennifer Smith, with "Marriage After God."
[Jennifer] Helping you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.
[Aaron] And today we're gonna talk about "The Power Of Touch In Marriage." Welcome to the "Marriage After God" podcast where we believe that marriage was meant for more than just happily ever after.
[Jennifer] I'm Jennifer also known as unveiled wife.
[Aaron] And I'm Aaron also known as husband revolution.
[Jennifer] We have been married for over a decade.
[Aaron] And so far we have four young children.
[Jennifer] We have been doing marriage ministry online for over seven years through blogging and social media.
[Aaron] With the desire to inspire couples to keep God at the center of their marriage, encouraging them to walk in faith every day.
[Jennifer] We believe the Christian marriage should be an extraordinary one full of life.
[Aaron] That can only be found by chasing after God.
[Aaron] Thank you for joining us on this journey as we chase boldly after God's will for our life together.
[Jennifer] This is "Marriage after God." Well, welcome back, everyone. Thanks for joining us on this episode of Marriage after God, we're super excited to have you. You're looking at me funny Aaron, why are you looking at me funny?
[Aaron] I was wondering if everyone knows that you're still pregnant. Or if they're waiting to hear about the baby 'cause I don' know if everyone knows the exact
I'm still pregnant?
[Aaron] March 20th is the due date?
[Jennifer] Creeping up on us.
[Aaron] More like, almost there. Also soon along with the baby coming, we have the end of our season coming. Season three of the "Marriage After God" podcast.
[Jennifer] You're just prepping their hearts.
[Aaron] I'm prepping their little hearts.
[Jennifer] Will come back don't worry.
[Aaron] Yeah, we have this episode and I think three more episodes. To finish up this season.
[Jennifer] It's actually really great timing you guys. And it was intentional, because postpartum is the real deal. And so I need time.
[Aaron] We're gonna take a break during the postpartum season and then will come back.
Right before summer starts. We're super excited about that.
[Aaron] Which always want to take these breaks gives you enough time to go back to all the episodes you haven't listened to yet, or haven't fully listen to.
[Jennifer] Or relisten listened to your favorite one.
[Aaron] Or relisten to your favorite ones.
[Jennifer] I wanted to before we get into today's topic, I wanted to start off this episode with an encouragement of something that happened. But Aaron, when I mentioned that's what I wanted to share about, you're like, "No, let's just do the whole episode on that." I'm not gonna share it right now. That's what the whole episodes gonna be about. Enjoy it later.
[Aaron] Right, but what we can talk about is so everyone, we've talked about how we're going through what's it called? "My Family 24 Ways".
[Jennifer] "Our Family 24 Ways".
That's what's it is.
By Sally and Clay Clarkson.
[Aaron] It's a family devotional and it's 24 weeks long. We did it twice. The first time we did it. We did it in a quarter of the time because we just kind of took each day was a--
[Jennifer] Each day was a new way. And they come with these coloring pages. Those are really great kind of quick overview of what it was about and gave us time to wrap our heads around it and get familiar with the content. And that was super fun for the kids. We did that last summer and then kicking off the new kind of school year in September. We're like let's do the whole week. And we'll use the was it a devotional or resource? We'll use it the way that they wrote it--
[Aron] Which is every way is a five day--
Process, yes. Every day, there's another verse you're reading, another idea, there's another question, but it's all in the same family way. And we just finished that a couple of weeks ago.
There's a couple of weeks we didn't do because of travel or different things. But we just finished it and it was great. The kids loved it, we loved it.
[Aaron] Yeah, and we're bringing this up to just to kinda recap that we told you we were going through we gave it as an example to you all, on a great way to start doing a family bible time. It was a lot of fun was really easy. I had a lot of prompts for the parents to walk through it gives you the questions to ask. But Jennifer, what are we doing now? We finished our family 20 or 23rd, "Our 24 Family Ways".
[Jennifer] "Our 24 Family Ways".
[Aron] By Sally and Clay Clarkson. You should go pick that on Amazon. But when we're done with that and we love that. But what are we doing now?
[Jennifer] There was that question creeping up to the end of that resource that were like, Hey, keep in mind, what are what are we going to do next? And there's lots of different things that we could have chosen.
[Aaron] Now we've done before, where we just like read through some of the Bible, read just whole chapters.
[Jennifer] I proposed to Aaron, I said, "Why don't we focus "on some of the kind of major Bible stories?" Our kids are still pretty young, and they know a lot of the stories but just clarifying for them, what actually was taking place during those stories, and what are the details and so we'll take a whole week on one story. And what I didn't share with Aaron was, my heart behind it was and let's focus on how Christ is pictured in these stories, which I just thought would be a really cool perspective, but I didn't share that part with you for some reason. I just said the Bible story thing really short and brief. And so I started making a list of the different Bible stories and I put them up on our chalkboard and you love the idea, and that first day that we started out with creation and Adam and Eve. You're like, and guys, because you're like, basically laying out what they can expect from how Bible time is gonna change for us. And you told the kids, "so we're gonna dive into these Bible stories, "one story a week, but we're gonna see how Christ "is at the center of each one." And I love that you did that we are totally like on the same page without even having talked about it.
[Aaron] And it's been really good. Elliot's been loving them, because He loves learning about these stories. And also the questions and the digging in and how those correlations to Christ and Adam, or these stories that we all know of.
[Jennifer] Just in simple things like in Genesis when it says, "we're gonna make them in our image" and get the kids to really like, focusing on what that one is.
Like who is the hour. Who is us, who's talking here about Adam and Ellie is like, "Oh, it's God and Jesus in the spirit."
[Aaron] He got the idea in the beginning. And just an encouragement for those that are listening. You're probably thinking like, okay, like all of our kids know these stories, but you're actually surprised at the stories that you kind of know because you grew up in Sunday school, or how if they don't ever get brought up, your kids aren't gonna know them. They're not gonna know the story of Noah's Ark. They're not gonna know the story of Jonah and the whale. They're not gonna know the story of Joseph and Abraham and Isaac and Adam and Eve and creation. We have to do that. We have to teach our children these stories, and not just stories, their history.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and my encouragement would be for our sake, as adults, going back to some of these stories have been encouraging because then we either see things we never saw before, or somehow it's relevant to something that we're going through that we can apply. That's just an encouragement.
[Aaron] It's just getting back into the Word of God always and remembering these powerful, testimonies that God's given us of who He is, His plan for redemption and His story for us. Awesome, before we get into the topic, as usual, we have a free thing for you. If you haven't taken the marriage prayer challenge yet, we dare you. Take the marriage prayer challenge. It's marriageprayerchallenge.com. It's a 31 day email series where you're gonna get emailed every day with, something to pray about, and a reminder to do that. So you're gonna be praying for your husband or your wife every day for the next 30 days, 31 days, and we just wanted to get you jumped in. It's almost 50,000 people who have now taken this challenge.
Yeah. If you're not one of those 50,000 I just wanna encourage you to go right now and take a break from the podcast even go sign up marriageprayerchallenge.com, It'll take you like one minute, and then come back and finish the episode.
[Jennifer] Alright, so today's topic is on The Power Of Touch. And again, this is something that happened recently in our marriage that impacted me so much that I told him and I'm gonna share about that in the next podcast and he was like, "No, we're doing "the whole episode on this."
[Aaron] And you went, "we don't need to do a whole episode "it's just a little passing idea." I did I was like, "No, this is actually really important "'cause of how much value you got out of it."
[Jennifer] Yeah, so, and we understand that sometimes our episodes go quite long. And we're just gonna jump in, we're gonna dive in and give you the tips and tricks that you can do--
Right now we're gonna just do them up front.
[Aaron] That way if you don't listen the whole episode, you're gonna walk away with the best tips for touch.
[Jennifer] Yeah, I like that.
[Aaron] What's the first tip they can get real quick.
[Jennifer] I mean, I'm just thinking like, when you're passing by each other in the kitchen, you both have these tasks on your mind that you're trying to get done. Just give a little, elbow to the gut and let that let that spouse know that you're there next to them working alongside side them.
[Aaron] It also might get them out of their way for a second. Another little tip is like when you guys are laying in bed and like just just right before your spouse is falling asleep, just to remind them that you're there and that you love them. Just giving them ,a wet finger to the ear. Or like a little like tap on their neck to like tickle them a little bit.
[Jennifer] Maybe a pinch.
[Aaron] Pinch. Those kinds of things that let your spouse know, "Hey, I know you're just we're almost falling asleep "but I love you."
I love me so much. One of my favorite ones is when you're like out on family excursion, and your spouse is wearing a backpack And you're kind of walking, a little bit behind them just give that backpack a little push to the left or right. And it really throws them off. But it reminds them, hey, I'm here with you.
[Aaron] It's almost like gets them to like flip around a little bit and then they could see you.
[Jennifer] The whole point of touch really is to interrupt what's going on. It's to interrupt the day and to say, I love you.
[Aaron] Everyone's thinking are they serious right now? We are totally playing.
[Aaron] We're being playful. These are funny ways. Don't don't actually go by and especially if your wife's pregnant. Or go and hit the stomach.
Don't do that.
Don't do that.
[Jennifer] No , we're just kidding.
[Aaron] No, we actually legitimately wanna talk about the power of real loving touch, and what it means and how it works and why God's given us this gift of touch and the benefit from what we've seen in our own life. Something that Jennifer's gonna talk about in a second, an experience that she had with me. And then we're just gonna talk about that and encourage you the listener, you husband and wife who are in your car or in bed or at home, walking around the house, whatever you're doing listening to this, to just remember to touch more. It should be obvious but it's not.
[Jennifer] I'd even say evaluate how long it's been since you've intentionally touched your spouse or what does that touch look like, either throughout the day or in the morning or at night, and just let the Lord inspire you today, when it comes to touching your spouse.
[Aaron] And this isn't just for those that one of their love languages is physical touch, because every human actually every organism in the world requires touch for that stimulus for healthy growth, especially for human beings. And we'll talk about that a little bit later. But so this isn't just for those that the love language's physical touch. Every single one of us need to focus on this and if it's not your natural tendency to do so then we just gotta work a little harder.
[Jennifer] Yep, okay, so this is what happened. I was having an off day. I felt rundown, I felt tired.
[Aaron] Super pregnant.
[Jennifer] I mean, just physically I just was not doing well. And yeah, just super pregnant. And I mean, everyone listening right now you're just thinking about that off day you've had and you're like, "Okay, I can relate to that." But I felt overwhelmed. And I was getting ready to jump in to school time with the kids. And I just had already felt exhausted. And so I was--
[Aaron] It was like the morning we hadn't even gotten our routine going.
[Jennifer] Nothing had started yet. And I was already feeling down. And I didn't say anything about it. I just was trying to do what I knew I had to do, right that saying, "Do the next right thing." And so I'm in there with the kids. And Aaron, usually your routine is, after Bible time you get a cup of coffee and got out to the garage, that's were you work. But you didn't do that. You came in, you came straight to me your like Beeline right for me.
[Aaron] Which is not normal for me.
[Jennifer] No, usually there's just this space where you like maybe even question like, "Hey, how are you?" "What's going on?" You didn't do any of that. You just opened the door, walked over to me had me stand up. And you just wrap your arms around me and you just held me and I was like in tears over it because I didn't realize that I even needed that in that moment. And even though I felt like sobbing in that moment, I think I might have even chuckled 'cause it was like so refreshing, it was like that. Oh, okay that I think--
[Aaron] Also like, why are you doing this?
[Jennifer] Definitely questioning that. But it was such a beautiful moment. And such a beautiful experience. I had to share it. And I wanted to share it with you guys, because it really impacted me and nothing needed to be said. Nothing needed to be more than that. It was just "hey," like there was so much said in the action itself of, "I'm here for you. "I love you, you can do this." And I remember at I had climbed up on the desk. And he was just staring at us probably wondering like, what are they doing? He's still literally a year and a half.
[Aaron] And all that PDA is going on. And he's like, What's happening here?
[Jennifer] But it really made me feel so good to be embraced. And I just I loved that moment. I love that you had a heart that was soft enough to know what I needed and to not let anything distract you from comforting me in that way.
[Aaron] Well, and I'll all admit to everyone listening. I'm sure other men are much better at this. There's some people that are just naturally prone to like oh, like gentleness and comforting and recognizing weaknesses and others and wanting to go love on them. But that is not my natural position. I'm not naturally gentle, I'm not naturally sensitive.
[Jennifer] I would say that you're more so you'd like to communicate about it. Like tell me what the problem is. And this is how--
How can I fix it.
This is how I can fix it. which I think a lot of people probably think that way.
[Aaron] And then on the negative side, I was in my worst way of dealing with this is feeling inconvenienced by someone else's weakness feeling inconvenienced by you're feeling down or because all I'm thinking is like we have this routine. You just got to move forward. And what's happening right now is like stop halting all that and that's my I would say that's my natural position. But you have been praying for me for a long time for this. Others have been encouraging me and rebuking me at times about my lack of sensitivity, my lack of gentleness. And it's something that I've been praying for myself. Because I'm a dad, I'm a husband, a leader in my church. And it's important in every aspect. I just been praying that God would help me be that way. This is not uncommon event, but that morning, I just felt like, Oh, she probably just needs a hug.
[Jennifer] And it was perfect. And I just feel like I have to say this, logistically I know that this can't happen like this in every marriage. Schedules are different.
Soldiers that are gone, for a long time
People are deployed. Yeah, there's a lot of different types of scenarios or situations where in marriage where maybe you can't comfort them in that way with the power of touch, but it can be done still in a phone call or a text message or any opportunity where you are together, right?
[Aaron] I would say, yeah, the physical touch is still important. I would say more important in those very little amounts of time that you would have. If anything, I would just, the encouragement for some one who's not around their spouse often, should make sure they take that focus more seriously. I got a question for you. I again, this is a new year--
[Jennifer] For me or for them?
[Aaron] For you, Jennifer. It's not normal. But in that moment I came in and I surprised you by doing something out of the ordinary. And just holding you not trying to give you solutions not trying to ask you questions. Not feeling annoyed by the inconvenience. I just genuinely came to hug you and hold you and love you. What message is this into your heart?
[Jennifer] It was really powerful for me. I felt like in that moment, there was this. Just first of all rush of peace. I feel like you reminded me that I'm loved. That I am cared for, that I'm thought of, that I'm not alone. Even though I'm alone with the kids currently trying to do school. You we're reminding me in a physical way that you're there and you're supporting me and you're encouraging me. And that how I'm feeling physically in that moment yet sucks and it's hard, but that I can continue on and that I have to, basically. but it was immediate comfort.
[Aaron] It gave you something that you didn't have before?
[Aaron] How did it make you feel toward me? Was there like anything you thought, Or like, "wow, like this about my husband?"
[Jennifer] Well specifically just that we are on the same team that you're there for me even when you can't take over for me like you just couldn't take over and do school that day, like you had work to do you needed to go get to it. But that you were supporting me in a comforting and encouraging way by letting your presence be known. And just that embrace. Did it make you, 'cause you've seen plenty of times in the past my annoyance, my dissatisfaction with a scenario like this.
[Aaron] Did it make you feel more confident in my love for you to see the opposite of that?
[Jennifer] Oh, totally, it really affirmed me and to think that you stopped your routine. You stopped your day, you stopped what was habitual, of going out to go to work. For me that was super thoughtful. And it was an immediate affirmation of this man loves me and cares for me and wants me to be okay today. And it did that like my perspective, my attitude, everything kinda just shifted in a more positive direction. And I was able to get through that time with the kids in a much better way.
[Aaron] And I remember it drastically changed your perspective of the day--
As you see my countenance.
Your countenance, by the end of the day, like I feel like you were more accomplished. At the end of the day, like you at the house clean. You had the, like you felt like a winner. Everything was done that you probably were in the morning thinking none of this is getting done today.
[Jennifer] Yeah, and it feels so weird talking about it. Because in this way, 'cause I feel like we're sharing, like in depth, what the impact was, but it was such a small thing. It really was. It was it was such a small moment of physical touch that happened in our marriage. That really changed the whole day around.
Imagine what would happen if that was a more consistent event
Yeah, for both.
For both of us.
[Jennifer] I have a question for you.
[Jennifer] Are there any standout moments of when I have randomly touched you or that have impacted you?
[Aaron] Yeah, when I saw this question I immediately was thinking about the times in the past where we're sitting somewhere, maybe in church or at a friend's house or just out in public. and you'll put your hand on my back and just start tickle rubbing my back or rub your fingers across my hair, or the back of my neck or those little things even if they're only for like a split second. It instantly makes me feel like wow, that felt really good. My wife touching me wanting to connect with me that way. It also gives me this boost of confidence because in public when you're around people, I don't know if other men feel this way. But there's a confidence boost of like, my wife, my woman loves me. And like is showing it, isn't afraid to show it is--
[Jennifer] It's basically like earlier you asked me, what message did it send to my heart what you did to me. This would be what message is a couple when they're showing physical touch and affection. What message is it sending to others?
[Aaron] Well in it, but the message to others sends a message to me, it makes me feel powerful, makes me feel respected. Like it's a little thing but like, my wife not being afraid to show affection to me in public means that she loves me that much that she's willing to show others that love publicly. And there's that there was a confidence boost in that. Other times, just like if we're laying in bed and you just, reach over to hold me or to play with my hair or to scratch my back like little things like that, that have been really like oh, immediately makes me feel really close to like, we're together. We're on the same page. Because what, when you're like, and everyone can relate to this. when there's like a fight or disagreement that there's conflict in the marriage. The last thing you want to do is touch. And so usually not touching is that is a common signal for distance for like we're not on the same page. That reaching across the bed, that reaching across the table, that reaching over to your spouse getting close drawing near. Is the symbol of unity. Is that proof of we're here together? I'm with you like your mine. And it's not obligated it's not like, "Hey, can you scratch my back? "Hey, I need a back massage? "Hey, can you rub my feet?" Which is not bad things to ask, but the unprompted, the desire, the actual desire, I'm going to reach out and put my hand on my spouse in a gentle way and for the purpose of touching them, knowing them and feeling their the warmth of their skin. It does a lot for that spiritual connection, that unifying nature of being one.
[Jennifer] So, when I was thinking about ways that I'm intentional with trying to be, physical with you. I wanted to share this. Just as a tip for anyone listening is for me, getting in the car is a trigger, because I know I can reach over and hold your hand. Whether you're driving or I'm driving One of one of our hands is free. And so for me, I know it's such a simple thing, but just reaching over and grabbing each other's hands for a couple seconds, even if it's not long lasting. Is just really good too.
[Aaron] Something that just another tip, another trigger when we're out to eat, I know I'll put my hand on your knee. When we're close together.
A date night.
[Aaron] Or we'll hold hands under the table. Things that keep us connected. And then another thing you're bringing up these trigger things to remind us of when we can touch and where. When we're in battle, because often we're both really hot. We don't cuddle too often because we get--
Yeah, we're temperature hot. but like it could be easy to just get in bed do you thing forget and then you're rolled over and no touchings happening, no connection. But reaching over and like playing with your hair, or putting my hand on your shoulder or holding hands with you.
I love all of that.
Even though we can't cuddle because we're too like temperature hot.
[Jennifer] More so during pregnancy.
[Aaron] But I'm just a hot sleeper, it's hard for me to just want to cuddle for hours. But that doesn't mean there's not ways that we can connect.
[Jennifer] And Would you say that there's any ways that I've failed in this area? I just wanna be honest with people.
[Aaron] That's a big question to ask.
[Jennifer] I know.
[Aaron] Well, of course we've both failed in this area. Because selfishness creeps in, and when we're selfish. And usually it plays out. On "oh, I'm not getting what I want, "I'm not getting what I deserve." So I'm not going to give, what they deserve what they want or what they think they deserve. until I get mine. And we do that to each other. And we have in the past, we gotten way better at it. I would say we're talking about just non sexual touch right now. I mean, sexual touch is so important. We're gonna talk about that in a little bit.
[Jennifer] I'm just on this side note. Any sort of physical touch will not just lead to sexual intimacy, but definitely cultivates that environment where you want more.
[Aaron] Not negative physical touch, we're talking about actual, intensional--
[Aaron] I would say just over the years, and it's something that God's been growing us both in is sexual touch, yeah, like initiating, reaching out and saying, "hey, I want to be with you, "I want to experience this time with you." But that's something that we've been both growing in.
[Jennifer] Something that is required in order to grow in this area is communication. This is just an encouragement to our listeners, if they struggle with, I wish my spouse would touch me and they're not, and not wanting that bitterness to grow, you gotta tell them, you gotta tell them how it makes you feel or that you want to be encouraged in your relationship that you want to have more. when you say that's really important to be able to talk about it.
[Aaron] Not just 'cause we sometimes get into this mode of, if I say something, then it's gonna devalue the reset receipt of it.
[Jennifer] I've done that before, don't do that.
[Aaron] If I tell my wife what I want, and then she doesn't, then it's devaluing it. It's almost like no, they just got to know. Rather than, like, I'm gonna communicate, maybe they don't know, maybe they have a way of thinking because of the way they're raised that just totally makes them disregard things that I want, or need.
[Jennifer] Or maybe their mind just hasn't been on it. And by bringing that message in a positive way, "Hey, I think we like we've done this before, "hey, I think we need to kiss more," or, "hey, I think we need to hold hands more" or whatever the thing is that would feel you fill you up. Talk about it in that sense, where it's like, let's both make a commitment to do this more.
[Aaron] I totally agree. And I think just having this desire to... We'll talk about the actual like, touch is just so much more than just it's a good thing to do. And so we'll talk about that more. The Bible talks about touch a lot. Jesus touched people a lot. And so we get this idea of the savior of the king, the Lord the Creator. come the earth himself, God Himself coming to earth in the form of man to touch us, right? There's a famous painting of God touching Adams finger right? There's this idea of Jesus coming to earth and in the flesh is like the ultimate intimacy active saying, God's saying "I'm gonna go, "come to touch you and and to heal you "and to make you be with me forever" and so we get to see this picture and Why don't you read John 13:5 of this super intimate moment that Jesus had with his disciples.
[Jennifer] Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. So that was, like really simple. And I just like you said, it's just a really beautiful picture of intimate touch.
[Aaron] Right, and it's this story shows us the servanthood of Christ. him girding his loins wrapping the towel around his waist, getting on his hands and knees.
[Jennifer] And everybody was probably quietly--
[Aaron] Beneath his disciples. He lowered himself even beneath his disciple to wash their feet. And then he tells them go and do likewise. Essentially which is go wash each other, go touch each other, go embrace each other, go walk in such a way that you guys are unified, and do and do what I'm doing. Look I'm lowering myself as a servant, go lower yourself as servants for the sake of washing each other and embracing each other.
[Jennifer] I wish that the Bible was more descriptive in this situation because I would love to hear what was going through the disciples mind when Jesus is getting ready to do this. And while he's doing it.
[Aaron] But we only get Peters response, which is he's like, "No, don't do it." He's like, "unless I do this, "you have no part of me." He's like wash my whole body.
Oh wait do it, do it. But also how were they impacted by this experience? I wanna hear more of that. But they walked with Jesus and I'm sure they had even more physical interactions with him as far as just arms touching or hugging or shaking hands or whatever, probably took part in their relationships as they spent that time together. But just thinking, how was this touch different? And what message did it send to each one of them about their relationship with Jesus?
[Aaron] What I think is awesome is, you have Jesus called our high priest, and this is just a thought I was having right now we're talking about this. And the high and the priests in the Old Testament had to do all the ceremonial washings for themselves so that they can atone for the sins of everyone else. They first had to wash themselves we learned that Jesus did not have to do this because he was perfect. We have perfect Jesus, already perfectly like did not need to be washed, by any means, because he was perfect. Getting down to actually touch the dirt of his brothers, of his disciples. And also how powerful it is because God's created us in such a physical way to need touch.
[Jennifer] Where he designed our bodies with the ability to receive it, right like we have nerve endings, and we can feel and I used to think that's fascinating.
[Aaron] We have this perfect God in human flesh touching other men's feet and touching the flesh of others. And so there's a physiological response happening, a spiritual response happening, an emotional response happening. All of these things are happening at the same time with the king of the universe. But we get to experience that in little ways, and in everyday life with our spouse, and with others. 'Cause this physical touch thing, we shouldn't just end at, "Oh, I'm not a very touchy person, "and I'll try and touch my wife more. "But I don't touch others." The Bible tells us to embrace each other and how important touches, just gentle, loving touch in everyday life actually has a physiological healthy response in the body. That helps us with many things, but spiritually, it reminds us that we're close. And that we're together and that we're unified and that we care,
[Jennifer] Which is so important in marriage, right?
Really important infinitely.
[Jennifer] Do you remember the time that I washed your feet when you came home from Brazil so we didn't have this, as pre-kids, probably--
My feet were pretty dirty.
[Jennifer] Second year of marriage. I wanna say, we're living in Florida at the time. And I had a job. I was working in a preschool and you felt encouraged to go to Brazil, we were missionaries. I just happen to have a job to support us while we were working in Florida. But we were working for an organization that was preparing a trip to go to Brazil, I think it was for two weeks, three weeks?
[Aaron] It's two weeks on the Amazon River it's pretty awesome.
[Jennifer] And so you went and I missed you like crazy. But I had been reading this Passage about Jesus washing his disciples feet. And I just felt so encouraged when you got home. I think it was like three o'clock in the morning. It was like the middle of the sleep hours. And, and I remember you came home and you went to go take a shower, and I'm like, take a bath. And let me wash your feet.
Do you remember this?
I do, I mean, two years in our marriage where we were already starting to experience some of those--
hardships. and relational struggles and it wasn't as bad as it was later on in our marriage, but it was already there, but it was events like this, which I think helped elongate our process of not falling apart sooner. Those little bits of surrender that those acts of like, well, "we don't know what to do. "We're gonna try this like," you're praying and you see this, you're like, "I'm gonna try and walk in this." You tell God, "Jesus says to do this, "and I'm my husband's gonna get home, "I'm gonna wash his feet."
[Jennifer] When I remember specifically thinking like, I wanted to feel close to you. I wanted to send that message to you that, "hey, I'm your wife, I'm your helper, "and I want to do what Jesus did and love you in that way." And I saw this what Jesus did as a very intimate thing. And so I just told myself, I'm gonna have the courage and just asked him if I could wash his feet.
[Aaron] And I remember it made me feel really close to you. It made me feel really loved, it made me feel really honored. Also, it just surprised me. It was a surprising It was like wait, what? It was a very impactful moment for us. we actually put that challenge in our 30 day devotional for husbands and wives, for them to wash each other's feet.
[Jennifer] While we're talking about Jesus, my mind's always, I feel like I'm always going back to "Marriage After God". But if you haven't gotten a chance to read it, you guys should definitely get a copy. It's the book that Aaron and I came out with last year. But there's a section of we're talking about how a marriage after God is intimate. And it talks about Jesus and I just wanted to read it really quick. It's on page 65. If you do have the book. "And marriage after God relentlessly "pursues and embraces intimacy "with each other, and with God, "our greatest example of this level "of intimacy is of course, Jesus. "He put his hands on people "who no one else would dare to touch." And there's a reference there to Luke 5:13 , "He reached down and held a dying little girl's hand "giving her life again." Mark 5:41 , "He broke cultural taboos to talk to people." John 4:9, "And he wept over the death of his close friend." John 11:35 , "That's our Savior, he embraced intimacy. "If we are not intimate with God, "we cannot be intimate with other people. "We cannot weep with those who weep or mourn with those "who mourn or laugh with those who laugh. "We must look to the example of Christ and be willing "to embrace intimacy with God, and inner marriage." And I was just brought to remembrance of that section of the book because of how intimate Jesus was that he was willing to do all those things when I think about him, holding that little girl's hand and it's like, no matter what hardships we face in marriage, we can think to his example and go, "I can reach over and hold my spouse's hand."
[Aaron] Well I think the example of Christ touching like the lepers and the sick and the bleeding and the things that a priest wasn't allowed to touch otherwise would make them unclean. Jesus was willing to touch unclean people, because in reality all are unclean. And so he's, he's touching these lepers. He's touching these these sick, he's touching these blind, these people that were outcasts that desire to be healed, to be desire to be known to desire to be reconciled to the community. And it's kind of like this picture in our marriage. Like, are we only going to touch when everything's perfectly right? Or are we going to in the midst of our pain and our hurt and our ugly, our smelly and in our dirty times? Are we gonna touch? Are we gonna embrace? Are we gonna hold? Are we going to reach out our hands and draw our spouse closer to us? Because even though often in our vows, we say, for better or for worse, it's often just for the better, and when it's in the worst is like, I don't have the energy right now. All right, until you change or unless this happens when it's those times that it's the most necessary. Jesus said it this way, he said, "I didn't come "for the healthy I came for the sick."
[Jennifer] And I would even say most impactful, when you're either at odds with each other or there's tension or there's hardship
[Aaron] Or you don't deserve it.
[Jennifer] Or you don't deserve it and your spouse reaches across the table and touches you in that way. Oh my goodness. It's powerful. It's impactful. And I think that that's exactly what maybe one, maybe a lot needed here today. I mean, I just feel like that was really encouraging and even to me.
[Aaron] It's encouraging to me, it's something I have to continue to be to remember. You're, you're having a hard time today. And my flesh is like--
[Jennifer] Get up, Jen.
[Aaron] It's like, I don't know if I can handle you having a hard time again today. Because I mean, which is totally my selfish flesh, because I'm not experiencing what you're experiencing. So it's hard for me to just empathize right away. But when you walk in the Spirit, so my choice to be like, like, I'm gonna understand my wife right now I'm gonna walk in an understanding way as the Word tells me to do. I can realize this is hard season for you, I'm gonna have this hard season with you. And so just go and hug you and hold you and--
[Jennifer] Tickle me with your beard, which didn't help Aaron.
[Aaron] Funny, touching is good to be playful.
[Jennifer] It was really sweet. And again, I do appreciate that you came to my level and you saw me were I was at and you had compassion on me. And for the husband's out there who are similar to me, go against your flesh, and walk in the Spirit and and do this for your wife. To be honest some of you men that are listening, are probably thinking like, "Man, I don't ever do that." She'll probably not know what to do. You'll go and you'll try and like draw close to you, and you're gonna feel super awkward and she's gonna tense up and you're gonna pull her closer and you're just gonna say, "I know, it's kind of weird, I just wanna hug you." And then what's gonna happen, she's gonna realize it's real. And then you'll, you'll probably feel her melt. And so don't be afraid to do it the first time, it gets easier, and ask the Lord to help you do it to sort of help you physically encourage your spouse with that physical touch with the gentle the loving, the caring, the caress, the just that softness.
[Jennifer] It's good. So we've said it a couple times, but just this idea that physical, physical touch sends a message to your spouse and there was just a kind of handful of ways that I was wanting to share with you guys about what those messages might look like. This isn't like, 100% perfect. It's just some encouragement.
[Aaron] When you do this kind of sends these messages.
[Jennifer] Embracing each other says, "I trust you and I need you in my life." A comforting hug says, "I'm here for you." A kiss says, "you're mine and I love you." Holding hands, let your spouse know, you like them. And you like spending time with them. Tickle rubs, massages, running your fingers through their hair says, I wanna make you feel good. And most times lets them know that you desire even more physical touch.
[Aaron] It's true, and for those that are afraid of that last part, if I do this, then it's going to make them want more. I think that's something that should be prayed through. Your heart of like, you're avoiding touching your spouse because you are afraid that that will make them want more from you sexually. And if that's a fear you have and that's an negative thought you have which is something that keeps you from reaching out and touching your spouse. I think that's something you should pray about, that God would change in you. And there's a scripture specifically about this.
[Jennifer] Real quick, I just have to say, there's a flip side to this of when your spouse is giving you physical touch, and you don't want it to lead anywhere that you're not just doing while they're touching you thinking they better not they better not. And then the moment it starts leading somewhere that you don't want it to go. You're thinking, "See, I knew they were just doing it "to get that thing." But, you guys God designed marriage to be physical, and--
[Aaron] It's the pretty much the only confines for Biblical healthy physical touch.
[Jennifer] Yeah, like we need to be there for each other in that way. Now, if there's a specific reason why you don't want it to be led somewhere, you got to speak up, you got to let them know. Otherwise, your heart's just going to wrestle.
[Aaron] And there's a loving way. It's like, "Hey, I'm really enjoying, "you reaching out you touching me playing with my hair, "you rubbing my back, I know, "you might want something more. "And I just wanna let you know that It may not work. "And so can we plan it for tomorrow night? "Can we can I reach out? "Can I let you know tomorrow?"
[Jennifer] Yeah, or the other way is to set aside whatever justification you're rolling around in your head and go for it and enjoy it.
[Aaron] Oftentimes, you get to the end of it, you're like, "Oh, I'm glad we did that part."
"Oh, I needed that."
[Jennifer] Okay, so why don't you read that? It's 1st Corinthians 7:3-5.
[Aaron] And this is this is a scripture that challenges both husbands and wives. On the actual obligation, we have to physical intimacy. It says this, "The husband should give to his wife, "her conjugal rights," and we all know what conjugal means. "And likewise, the wife to her husband, "for the wife does not have authority over her own body, "but the husband does. "Likewise, the husband does not have authority "over his own body, but the wife does. "Do not deprive one another except perhaps "by agreement for a limited time." I like how first of all says it says, "except perhaps." So it means like, if this is going to happen in the rare occasions of depriving each other, it's going to be by agreement and only for a short period of time. Like don't let there be long periods of time that this stuff happens. That's what almost destroyed marriage. Was long periods of time of not--
[Aaron] That you may devote yourselves to prayer but then come together again so satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self control. There's a very stark warning of the temptation that comes from avoiding each other sexually. And there's also at the command that my body is not my own. It's hers and her body is not her own, it's mine, right? Which has tons of implications and we can have another episode about this. But just just as an encouragement, you shouldn't be withholding sexual intimacy from your spouse. If there's a good reason then you need to discuss that and come to an agreement on it. If there's infidelity, which is a good reason to have a break from sexual intimacy.
[Jennifer] Not just a break, it's a break being prayerful.
[Aaron] It's a prayerful break from purpose of reconciliation, for the purpose of building trust, for the purpose of coming together against stronger than before, if that's where you're at. And so there's there's a stark command on the Word of God that whose bodies ours, are my bodies is not my own, I don't get to just make decisions for my own body. I have my responsibility to my wife, and vice versa.
[Jennifer] And we shouldn't be using, sexual intimacy as a tool and withhold it from each other or anything like that. We can't, we can't let division and disunity and that kind of heart to seep into the marriage relationship which is so beautiful, the way that God designed, being married and living in this sacred space of like there's no other relationship like it on Earth. I receive from you, Aaron you receive from me. There's physical closeness, embrace touched, like there really is nothing like it on Earth and to be aware of that and the opportunities that we do have to come together. And again, this is just another place where I wanna assert that if distance or timing doesn't work because of work schedules or something, that is key be circumstances that are keeping you guys from being physically close, that you're affirming one another with your words, words are really powerful. And as much as this whole episode is about touch, you need to be affirming to each other and encouraging each other. Like, "we can't be together right now. "But I'm gonna make this a priority as soon as I see you." Right?
[Aaron] Yep, and I want to talk about some of the way God designed us. And created us to for touch for that human connection. Not just verbal, but actual physical. And there's a story that we've been told from friends of ours that have adopted in China. And they went to China, and they walked into the orphanage, and it was silent.
[Jennifer] There's babies.
[Aaron] There's babies everywhere, but it's silent, no, no crying no. Like you would imagine in a room full of lonely babies.
[Jennifer] They said it felt eerie.
[Aaron] It was what's wrong. And this has actually been researched by a lot of people. There's several orphanage systems around the world that this is kind of a case where the babies aren't touched. They're not held on a hug. They're not cuddled, none of that stuff. And the babies very quickly learn that they're not going to be comforted. So they don't cry. They need it, they want to be comforted, but the only way they can communicate does nothing so they don't communicate. And it actually stunts their their neurological growth, it stunts their physical growth, it stunts a lot of things in them just because they're not being touched. I remember hearing a story a while ago, of an old man who's single, his wife died years prior, and he wanted to find something to do with his life. And so he started going to the NICU in his local hospital, just to hold the babies. He would go in there and he'd sit in a rocking chair and he'd hold babies that didn't have families, or that they were sick or whatever it was and he would just hold them for hours. Rock them sing to them talk to them. And he had this ministry of going and just holding babies which is amazing. When he gets to heaven one day, God's gonna hug him for doing that. Human touch is fundamental to our communication, to our bonding, to our physical health. There's been tons of research on how physical touch on even little mounts of levels. It brings healing to your body physical healing, like it helps you with your immune system helps you with your neurological development. What human touch does is there's a chemical that God's put in our bodies called oxytocin. And it's released during sex. It's released during hugs,
[Jennifer] It's actually released during breastfeeding while a mom is bonding with her baby.
[Aaron] Yeah, it's called the bonding drug. When you have an orgasm and during sex, and oxytocin is released in both of your bodies. It actually causes you to physically, emotionally, mentally bond closer with your spouse, which is also why it's prohibited to be having sexual relationships outside of your marriage. Because you're bonding in this way with other human beings that you're not married to. And this is this should be only happening within the context of marriage. But that oxytocin release that hormone is actually so good for so many things. It relieves stress. It combats what's the stress hormone, it's cortisol. It combats that. So you have too much of that in your body and you have all this stress and oxytocin being released through a hug, through a kiss, through an orgasm through that these things that are that release oxytocin in your body, and then boom, you're actually helping your body do what God made your body to do. Which makes it even stronger, healthier, more excited, more fit, less sad, right? It helps with depression, it helps all these things. And these are all just the just the biological function of touch in your in your life why it's so important. So again, like I said in the beginning, regardless, if you're love language's physical touch, every human being on the planet needs physical touch for healthy growth, healthy living. You could have access to this on a daily basis with your spouse. Think about how much more joyful, and secure, and confident and happy you'll be if physical touch's more consistent like healthy, loving, gentle physical touch. A caress here, a hand holding there, a kiss, a hug, caressing the neck, touching the ear, playing with the hair. All these things, that are so good for us and make you have to be so close. And it releases all these good things in your body. And it actually it's a spiritual thing. It's an emotional thing, it's a physical thing.
[Jennifer] That's really good. So often, I think that as humans, we become contingent on the other person in the marriage to step up and do something--
[Jennifer] And I think it's important to speak to that for just a moment Aaron, and maybe you can share on this but Just as an encouragement to those listening. That we shouldn't be waiting to initiate, waiting to insert ourselves and be physical, for our spouse to do it first or to take that first step or especially if there has been distance or time between, a season of no physical touch. What would you say to encourage them?
[Aaron] Well, I first want to talk to those that, like, maybe I'm imagining a husband has a hard heart. There's something, wherever they are in their marriage. And like I said, we talked about earlier touch is the last thing they want. And I would imagine a wife is afraid to like to reach out and hold their hand because they're gonna pull away and reject them.
[Jennifer] Or maybe the couple who they have tried to openly Express and communicate that they want more or that there's they're hurt because it's not happening and then they get shut down. And so that kind of like what you're saying about the baby's crying, not crying in the orphanages. They've learned to not speak up and to not say anything.
[Aaron] 'Cause they're not gonna get it.
[Jennifer] That makes me sad just thinking about that in marriage.
[Aaron] So my encouragement to those is to do it anyway. Even if even if they reject you, even if you, you lean over and you go to caress your wife's neck and she swats your hand away, or you reach over to put your hand on your husband's shoulder, and he shrugs it off. It hurts. I'm not gonna pretend that that doesn't hurt, I'm not gonna tell you to pretend it doesn't hurt. But you can hand that to the Lord and say, "Lord, that hurts me. "But I want to love my husband, "I want to love my wife." And, and maybe it's the next time you're walking by them, to the kitchen you just for half a second, rub your hand across their back. They can't stop you. Whether they say a word to you, they're gonna think like, she touched me.
[Jennifer] You're sending them a message still.
[Aaron] You're sending them a message still. And you do that over and over, and over again. They they look frustrated. You go up and you get close and say, "Hey, I'm praying for you." Just put your hand on their shoulder. They look sad. So you say, "can I give you a hug?" Even if they say no to you, do it. Reach out to touch someone like the song goes, "I reach out" and go to your spouse and just don't give up. Don't give up doing good for in due season you will produce a harvest, you will reap a reward. And I mean think about it's like what Christ did. He reached out and touched a lot of people. And so be Christ in your home to your spouse, reach out and touch them, pray for them. Put your hand on them. Try and grab their hand, touch their lower back, put your hand on their shoulder, put your hand on their forearm. Whatever it is, just let them know that you want to touch them.
[Jennifer] Yeah, that's beautiful. We hope that this episode encouraged you guys. And this really brought you to a place where you're evaluating physical touch in your marriage. And I would say our charge to you would be an encouragement to be the initiator. I know we already mentioned that but to be the initiator of physical interaction, in your relationship with your spouse. And don't let your flesh, your insecurities, or your frustrations get in the way. Be courageous enough to reach out and see how that touch impacts your spouse.
[Aaron] And ask Christ to give you the strength and the courage to do it in a supernatural way with your spouse.
[Jennifer] All right, Aaron, you wanna close us out with prayer?
[Aaron] Yep. Dear Lord, we praise you for the gift of touch. We thank you for the way you created our bodies and gave us the ability to fill and touch. We pray that we would be husbands and wives who use the power of touch to affirm each other in marriage and let one another know we are near. We pray we would have the courage to reach out and hug or hold each other's hand. Even when it feels hard to do that or inconvenient. May our marriage be a priority in this way. May our touch remind our spouse that we love them and that we support them. We pray touch with encourage intimacy and closeness like we have never experienced in our marriage before. In Jesus name, amen. We love you guys. We thank for listening to episode, we pray that you would touch more and that if you haven't already would you just take a moment, leave us a review. Just scroll down to the bottom of your app, hit a star rating that the easiest way to do it, you just tap a star. Or you can leave us a text review. We love those and also blesses other people when they're coming to check out the show for the first time. It also lets iTunes and other podcast apps know how to rank our podcast based off her reviews. So we love you all. We thank you and we pray that God moves mightily in your marriages and draws you closer to him and your spouse and see you next week.
[Narrator] Did you enjoy today's show? If you did, it would mean the world to us if you could leave us a review on iTunes. Also, if you're interested, you can find many more encouraging stories and resources at marriageaftergod.com and let us help you cultivate an extraordinary marriage.