Marriage Advice From A Christian Perspective

6 Ways to Meet Your Wife’s Need for Affection

  • Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg America's Family Coaches
  • Published Oct 17, 2011
6 Ways to Meet Your Wife’s Need for Affection

Husbands: Did you know that one of the things that adds up to great sex for your wife is actually not sexual at all? Stay with us here. It’s actually something most women need and desire: Physical touch that doesn’t lead to sex. They need to feel secure that every physical expression from their husbands make isn’t with the expectation of moving toward intercourse. We surveyed 700 couples across the country for our book, The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women, and more than 59-percent of women ranked nonsexual touch as a top sex need.

Guys, you may be thinking, “Wait a minute. Is there such a thing as nonsexual touch? Isn’t most touch between a husband and wife supposed to lead to sex?” The answers are yes and no. Simply put, nonsexual touch, or affection, is intimacy in and of itself. It’s not the means to an end. In many situations it is the end.

“Touch me. Don’t touch me.” Have you ever had that experience with your wife? One minute she wants to be touched; the next minute she doesn’t. No wonder men are confused! But men need to understand what kind of touch works well for a woman. More than 80-percent of a woman’s need for meaningful touch is nonsexual. Most psychologists will tell you a vast majority of women appreciate a hug, a touch, a kiss, holding hands – any physical sign that they are special.  

First, let’s differentiate between nonsexual touch and foreplay touch.

  • Nonsexual touch is loving affection. It may have the tone of sexual arousal “around” it, but the goal of nonsexual touch is not intercourse.
  • Foreplay touch, on the other hand, leads to sexual intimacy for a couple.

The problem is, to many men, touch is touch is touch. It all feels the same. But that’s not the case for his wife.

Guys, stay with us here. We know it may be difficult for you to understand how intimate touch can stay platonic. You start rubbing her shoulders, and you become aroused and think you’ve entered the sexual intimacy zone. She thinks she’s just getting an affectionate shoulder rub. And when you start to make your move, she resists and pulls back. What happened?

Many men have felt “out on the sofa” relationally, when they long to be “in bed” with their wives. When men go from nonsexual touch to trying to score – they won’t. It’s that simple. Some men keep trying this pursuit, keep failing, and keep shaking their heads in bewilderment.

The reality is that when you meet your wife’s needs for affection, you refresh her weary spirit and help her relax. You give to her, which begins to replenish her energy. When you touch her without expectation that you will end up between the sheets, she will feel much more secure with you and much more open to sexual activity later on.

But when you offer her touch that you think will move into the sexual intimacy zone, you could drain her spirit and push her over the edge. Why? Because if your wife is like most women, she spends her day meeting other people’s needs – giving, giving, giving. She gets tired and drained. When her husband comes home and moves right into the “take” mode, she doesn’t have anything to give. She’s empty. And that means sex isn’t going to happen for a long time. Your wife needs you to be a safe and non-threatening place for her. Nonsexual touch refuels her energy and creates that place of safety. Yes, she really does want to meet your sexual needs, but she needs time to refuel. You can help her do that through tender affection with no strings attached.  

Your wife needs your closeness, your nonsexual approach that communicates genuine caring. Here are six ways to show her you love her:

  • Touch her arm or knee when you talk with her. Your gentle touch communicates, “I’m here. You’re not alone. I enjoy you. I’ll take care of you.”
  • Make an effort to spend time alone together – go out for dinner, for a walk, or out for coffee. Show her (and others) that you enjoy the intimacy of being alone with her.
  • Grab her hand and hold it when you’re out in public.
  • Give her a kiss and a hug when you leave and return home.
  • Don’t see every complaint as an attack. Women think as long as they feel the marriage is working, they can talk about it. On the other hand, most men feel the relationship isn’t working if they have to talk about it. Allow her to express what’s on her mind.
  • Recognize her strong emotions as exclamation marks. When she is upset, angry, or frustrated, realize that these emotions are her way of letting you know how much the issue at hand matters to her.

So, here’s the drill today. Guys, in the apostle Paul’s profound chapter about the qualities of love, he reminds us, “love does not demand its own way.” You can love your wife by putting aside your own needs, by not demanding your own way, and by serving her through nonsexual touch. For a woman, great sex happens in the context of being held, laughing together, feeling accepted and sharing feelings. When her husband fulfills her emotional need and sustains it through affirming her, hanging out together, and being affectionate, she feels replenished and safe, making it much easier for her to be open to sharing herself physically with her husband.

So tonight take the initiative to take something off your wife’s list when you get home and help her out with it – without even being asked. Maybe give her a shoulder rub – without expecting anything in return. Or run a warm bath for her and give her a little extra time to relax tonight. Your efforts now to meet your wife’s need – can lead to great sex later for both of you!

Published January 17, 2008

Portions of this article were adapted from "The 5 Sex Needs of Men and Women," Copyright 2006 by Dr. Gary and Barbara Rosberg, all rights reserved.  Published by Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.,  To order this resource or to find our more about Dr. Gary and Barb – Your Marriage Coaches, visit or call 1-888-608-COACH. 

Married over 30 years, the parents of two adult daughters and five grandchildren, Dr. Gary and Barb Rosberg, your marriage coaches, have a unique blend of insight and wisdom that touch people of all ages. Together with Gary's 25,000 hours of counseling experience and Barbara's gift of encouragement and biblical teaching, they are equipping thousands of families across the nation through their interactive daily radio program, conferences, and marriage and family.