Understanding Your Spouse’s Needs: Affection

Understanding Your Spouse’s Needs: Affection December 3, 2018

We men don’t realize often enough that women are complicated when it comes to sexual expression. We can’t just walk up to our wives and say, “Let’s have sex!” As suave and debonair as we might think ourselves to be, that’s not going to cut it.

For women, the desire for sex isn’t something that just turns on like a microwave. She has to warm to it, and one way that happens is through affection. Especially non-sexual affection. This seems counter-intuitive, so let me explain.

Men have sex because, well, it feels good and it meets a very physical need. For guys, sex is an event.

Women also enjoy the physical aspects of sex, but that’s not the only thing they get out of it. It’s also a way to connect emotionally with their husbands. That emotion is tied very closely to affection.

Men can be clueless about affection, so let me give some examples. It means putting your arm around your wife. It means holding her hand. It means giving her a hug — holding her — without letting your hands start roaming around or hoping it leads to something else.

This kind of no-strings-attached affection helps meet her need for emotional security. It helps her feel connected to you. It gives her the sense that you care for her. This feeling is very important to her.

As silly as it seems, I really struggled with affection when Karen and I started dating. I grew up as the youngest of three brothers, in a family without a lot of physical affection. So when we began our relationship I didn’t know how to be affectionate without being sexual — or without being rough.

I would pinch her hand when I held it. I would put my arm around Karen and, to her, it felt like she was in a headlock. I thought this was great. She thought otherwise. To be honest, I just didn’t get it. The simple act of a calm, reassuring hug made me ridiculously nervous.

Eventually our marriage changed. It required a lot of prayer on my part. John 16:13 says the Holy Spirit will “guide you into all truth,” and I had to rely on that when it came to being affectionate with Karen. It was uncomfortable for me at first, but gradually, with God’s help, I learned how to do it. Today I am a much more affectionate husband, and our marriage is so much better for it.

What I learned is this: Women really need the comfort and security of non-sexual touching, but the more soft and non-sexual men are, the more sexual women become. The wonderful thing about this is both the husband and wife are given the opportunity to meet each other’s needs.

Guys, your wife’s need for affection is just as important — and just as intense — as your need for sex. It helps her feel secure and emotionally connected to you. And wives? Think about how much you long for the comfort of a meaningful, non-sexual hug. That’s how much your husband wants sex. In fact, it’s very likely he wants sex a whole lot more.

But you knew that already, right?

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