I still remember the first time that Joe held my hand. A simple gesture that said so much. There’s something powerful in our touch. Our every day affection can help stay connected in ways that our words can’t. A soft tap on the shoulder, a big hug, a lingering kiss.
God created us for physical touch and our tenderness can be a vessel for providing comfort and healing. But giving and receiving affection hasn’t always been easy for us. I went into marriage thinking it could be all affection, all the time, but time would tell a different story. Instead my affection only made him bristle up and seemingly push me away. Especially if my touch came out of nowhere and without warning.
The imagery of Jesus as our shepherd gives us such a great model for how we express affection: He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young. (Isaiah 40:11) Is our touch gentle, protective, safe?
It took us many years for us to be able communicate about what was going on. I knew it wasn’t that Joe didn’t love me. I knew he cared for me, and in some settings he could be overly affectionate. But there were feelings below the surface we had to tackle together first. I had to learn how to be more sensitive and tender with my affection. How to let it be a gift and not an expectation. As we processed those feelings together, affection flowed more freely between us.