I have been discussing SPICE and marriage for several weeks. SPICE is a great tool that Dr. Hilgers created to assist couples in developing true and lasting intimacy.
SPICE reminds us that our sexuality is multidimensional. Our sexuality is Spiritual, Physical, Intellectual, Creative/Communicative and Emotional/Psychological.
This week, I will focus on the Physical aspect of SPICE and marriage. When I first was introduced to SPICE, I assumed the Physical aspect was referring to genital contact and intercourse. But, that couldn't be farther from the truth.
The Physical aspect of marital intimacy involves so much more than just genital contact.
Did you know there are two types of touch? Dr. Hilgers refers to these two types of touch as Affirming touch and Arousal Touch.
For most, Arousal touch is touch that erotically stimulates oneself and the other in preparation for intercourse. It tends to be more “me”-oriented. It says, “Give yourself to me,” or “I want you.”
Affirming touch is more complex. It involves touching that is not arousing in any way. It is non-genital in orientation. It expresses love to the other person by saying, “I accept you and appreciate you,” or “I love you just the way you are.” Ex. holding hands, warm hug, etc.
Dr. Hilgers suggests “creative cuddling” as a means of physically expressing one’s closeness without leading to genital intercourse. Falling asleep in each other’s arms without any demands being placed on either spouse can provide a bonding and intimate experience.
It is important to communicate with your spouse what constitutes both arousal and affirming touch for you. It can be different for each person.
I personally struggle with making affirming touch a priority in my marriage. I am not a naturally affectionate person and so proactively hugging, kissing and holding hands is sometimes difficult. My husband excels in this area. He always knows how to make me feel loved by just a simple tap on the shoulder or a hug when I am stressed.
If affirming touch does not come naturally to you, I highly recommend developing the habit of expressing your love for your spouse in this way. One of the best kept secrets is that men like to receive hugs and kisses and other expressions of affection just as much as women. Whether or not your spouse says they want affirming touch, it is an important part of marriage and expressing our love to one another.
I constantly remind myself every day to do one simple act of affection to my husband. I try and greet him at the door with a hug and a kiss, I will hold his hand when we are on the couch watching a movie or just come and hug him for no reason. If I continue to do a small affectionate gesture every day, it will develop into a habit that will eventually come naturally to me.
If you are the spouse that would like more affirming touch in your marriage, make sure you communicate that to your husband or wife. Make a list of some ways you would like your spouse to show more affection. Set aside some time to talk with your spouse about your needs in this area. One thing I have learned is that my husband is not a mind reader. If I want something, I have to communicate that to him. It only took me 14 years to realize this fact! I am a slow learner. And, be patient. New habits take time to develop.
Sometimes a couple may choose to do physical activities together. My husband and I like to go on walks, talk about and plan the days ahead or watch late night tv shows or movies together. It gives us some downtime away from the stresses of everyday life to just be with each other. We have also been known to go bowling and play laser tag together. Some couples may go to the gym or play team sports together.
Doing physical activities with my husband always helps me to relax and unwind. And, they are lots of fun too. These activities are bridge building and stimulate communication. They build trust in the relationship which leads to true intimacy.
The intimacy that a couple experiences outside of the bedroom leads to a more intensified physical intimacy inside the bedroom.
You may already be doing the things I have discussed when it comes to physically expressing your love to your spouse. Or, It may be completely new information. Either way, take time to discuss it with your spouse. We all change and our needs change with us. It is important to keep communicating our needs to spouse.
How do you live out the Physical aspect of SPICE in your marriage?