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Monique Honaman Headshot

Speaking of Touch...

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I clearly touched a nerve! My recent Huffington Post blog, "Good Touch. Bad Touch. No Touch?" obviously connected with many of you. Nearly 400 of you responded with comments about the importance of physical touch in your relationship... or lack thereof.

Why the commotion?

What I am hearing anecdotally from the people I speak with is being played out over and over again in homes across the globe -- that marriages exist with absolutely no physical touch.

By physical touch, I don't just mean sexual intercourse or making love, I mean physical touch 101 -- the simple things like holding hands, getting a back rub, or kissing.

Within my own first marriage, I was often reminded of the scene from the movie Pretty Woman with Julia Roberts and Richard Gere where even as a prostitute, Julia's character wouldn't allow kissing on the lips because it was too intimate. Sex was fine. Kissing was not. How sad is that?

Yet, I hear that same refrain from so many married couples today. Kissing has disappeared. Even simple acts of physical touch like holding hands or touching feet while lying on the couch watching a movie have disappeared. And, in many, many cases, sex has disappeared altogether. If sex isn't happening, then certainly the core concept of "making love" isn't happening either. Couples are losing the opportunity at all levels of physical touch to connect with their partner.

What in the world can be done about this?

First, filling that void of physical touch outside of the marriage is not the answer. For many people, this means having a sexual affair. As I said before, it's a sad state when it's easier and more comfortable to have sex with a total stranger than with someone with whom you have been intimate in the past.

For others I speak with, fulfilling their need for physical touch means getting regular massages (the normal kind!) or becoming known as a "great hugger" in an attempt to feel physical touch in some way, shape or fashion. While these are socially acceptable ways to increase physical touch in your life, it's clearly a temporary "fix" and not a solution to the underlying problem.

I see too many strained marriages due to a lack of physical touch. I talk with too many couples who have drifted so far apart that they now feel it would be "awkward" to re-introduce physical touch into their relationships. It's sad, but true; they would rather live as roommates than experience that awkward first kiss again. And then, there are those people who want no physical touch with their spouse. These folks tell me they are "over it" and the idea of physical touch is actually repulsive.

I know we all have different love languages. For some, physical touch is a must-have. For others, it isn't a priority. I can't imagine existing in a marriage where even the most simple elements of physical touch -- brushing hands with each other while walking side-by-side, a quick kiss on the lips to say goodbye, or a caress on the shoulder as you pass in the hallway --aren't happening regularly. I used to think physical touch was a nice-to-have. I now consider it a must-have!

What about you? Is physical touch in your relationship slowly disappearing? If so, what can you do about it today? What would your spouse or significant other say if you reached for his or her hand next time you are walking side by side? Or what if you sat down on the couch next to him or her tonight and snuggled up, instead of sitting across the room in your own recliner? Think about it. I challenge you to try something. Start small. Be intentional. Invest in your significant other physically!