Loving Your Spouse Without Ever Touching

with Ann Wilson, Dave Wilson | March 8, 2017

Pastor Dave Wilson and his wife Ann, talk about the value of communicating love to your spouse using non-sexual touch. They share stories about their failures and successes.

Show Notes and Resources

Dave and Ann Wilson - VerticalMarriage.org

Pastor Dave Wilson and his wife Ann, talk about the value of communicating love to your spouse using non-sexual touch. They share stories about their failures and successes.

Show Notes and Resources

Dave and Ann Wilson - VerticalMarriage.org

Loving Your Spouse Without Ever Touching

With Ann Wilson, Dave Wilson
March 08, 2017
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: You’ve heard it said—but it’s true—there are times when a wife isn’t looking for her husband to solve her problems. She is looking for her husband to emotionally process life with her. Here’s Ann Wilson.

Ann: Well, this one time, Dave came home; and I was sitting at the kitchen table so frustrated. Dave comes home—he goes, “What’s going on?”  I started venting about my day: “This happened. I feel terribly. I feel like I have no life! I feel like I’m just…”—it was just going on. Dave looks at me and goes, “I’ll be right back.” He comes downstairs with this piece of paper, numbered one to ten. I thought, “He went up there and wrote me this sweet, little encouraging note.”  Then, I read it aloud: “Number one, get more organized.”  [Laughter] 

Dave: Pretty good stuff; huh?  [Laughter]  I mean, this is not an exaggeration—that’s how clueless I was! 


Bob: [Laughter] This is FamilyLife Today for Wednesday, March 8th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. When it comes to expressing love in marriage, sometimes, as husbands, we just need to listen and nod our heads and say, “That sounds really hard.”  We’ll talk more about that today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Wednesday edition. You think back to a couple weeks ago when we were on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise—was there a cruise highlight for you this year? 

Dennis: Yes; it was at the end of the conference when Barbara and I spoke about “Twenty-one Lessons from Forty-four Years of Marriage” to the entire audience. In the last session, I had a chance to introduce a couple who were on their honeymoon—they were five months into their marriage. The husband had been married for 50 years to his wife before she died—



—he was 91. He married a woman who was 81, who’d been married for 50 years to her husband before his death. They were on the cruise in their fifth month of marriage. Now, can you imagine going on the Love Like You Mean It cruise and celebrating five months of marriage and having 100 years of marriage between you and your new spouse? 

Bob: And that’s the fascinating thing about the cruise—because you’ve got couples who are newlyweds, you’ve got couples who have been married for a decade or for a couple of decades, some are celebrating highlight anniversaries on the cruise; but everyone who is coming on is looking for a little relaxation / a little refreshment, and they are also looking for a little rejuvenation. I think the thing that makes the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise so special is that it is fun—it’s a great getaway / it’s a nice vacation—



—but you come back with some real spiritual substance that has been poured into your life.

Dennis: And next year’s cruise is going to be even better, because it’s a day longer—February 11-17—six full nights. It departs Fort Lauderdale, Florida. We’re going to go to the Dominican Republic, Grand Turk Island—that’s a long way down there.

Bob: Yes.

Dennis: But you know what is fun, Bob?—is we have all kinds of seminars, great teaching, and times to equip couples around issues they’re facing, like blended marriages. A lot of couples who join us are in a blended family—we’ve got Ron Deal onboard—lots of great teaching, great worship, entertainment with illusionist—comedian. It’s just a great overall experience.

Bob: Well, we thought it would be important, this week, to let our listeners know about next year’s cruise. The reason is because we are 60 percent sold out for next year. In fact, it’s more than 60 percent at this point.



Every day, we’re getting calls from people, because we’ve got a deadline of March 20—that’s when our early-bird rate shifts. So, if you would like to join us on the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, Valentine’s week next year, go to our website, FamilyLifeToday.com; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and get information about the cruise, and sign up, and plan to be with us. It really is a great weeklong getaway in the middle of winter to breathe some warm air into your marriage.

Dennis: And just to give you a sampling of the kind of teaching and fun that you have in the sessions, let’s listen to Dave and Ann Wilson. Dave and Ann give leadership to Kensington Church in the Detroit area. They have spoken at our Weekend to Remember® marriage getaways for over 25 years. I think you’ll understand why they are among the most popular speakers on the cruise. Let’s listen to Dave and Ann as they talk about loving your spouse without ever touching.


[Recorded Message]

Dave: It was year eight or nine—so that meant we had two little ones.

Ann: Yes.

Dave: Right. So, I remember walking—in a moment in the kitchen. The kids were down or something—they weren’t around. So, I went over and just laid one on her, and I thought it was a really Valentine’s-like romantic moment.

Ann: —even though it wasn’t Valentine’s Day—

Dave: It didn’t matter.

Ann: —which, when he did that, if he would have done that in the early years, I’d have been, “This is awesome!”—but here’s what I said—

Dave: Yes; that’s what she says—I don’t remember that.

Ann: Here’s what I said to him, like, “I know what you want.”  He goes, “Well, I hope so!”—basically.

Dave: No; I actually said, “I don’t want that right now—just later.” 

Ann: Here’s what I was thinking—I said to Dave—I said, “I feel like the only time you touch me is when you do want that.”  I said, “It feels like the romance—like for you just to kiss me, or hug me, or hold my hand—like that touching is all gone and this is the only touching that is left.”



And it kind of took us into a fight.

Dave: Yes; it was a really fun moment right there. [Laughter]  But here’s what I do remember about that moment—and it really frames where we want to go tonight—she started to talk to me about non-sexual touch. We had this discussion about affection and romance that was there in the early days of our marriage and had gone away, primarily, because of me.

As we talk to couples around the country for the last 30-something years, we find a lot of people go through that; right?—you know, there’s not non-sexual touch in the relationship. We discovered something you already know, and it’s Romance 101 really—it’s like men and women are different. Did you notice that?  We’re just different / we’re wired differently—physically, emotionally.

In fact, I read a statistic that said, “Eight out of ten times, you can tell men and women are different physically.”  So, I’m not just talking physical—[Laughter]—just seeing if you’re listening!



But if you even go back to the original Scriptures / first book—the Book of Genesis, which means “beginning”—when you read how God created us—and I know I’m not reading something you probably haven’t heard before—but in Genesis, Chapter 1, the first chapter of the first book of the Bible—it says, “God made mankind in His own image, in the image of God He created him; He created them male and female.” 

And right there, you’re like: “So, where did these differences come from?—where?”—“God!”  God’s literally made man and woman completely different. Again, we’re joking about physically; but I mean, are we completely wired differently?  I mean—I’m not saying every woman is this woman or every man’s this way—there’s definitely crossover—but generally, men are a certain way and women are too; right?  Am I right? 

In fact, you’ve probably seen us illustrate this at the Weekend to Remember; but I brought a couple of Barbie dolls. You know, if you think about Barbie dolls, they are the perfect picture of the differences between men and women because if you gave these two little dolls to little girls—what would they do? 



They would communicate [falsetto voice]: “Hey. Oh, I like your swimsuit,”  “I bought that for you,” “Oh, I like your…”—that’s what they do. They talk the whole time.

You know, there are studies done on the difference between men and women and communication. Have you heard the study decades ago that said, “How many words do boys or men use in a day?”  Anybody know?—around 12,000 words a day; alright?  How many words do girls or women use a day?—25,000, with gusts up to 30,000. So, it’s like crazy; right?!  [Laughter] 

If you gave this to little girls, they’d be talking—talking the whole time. Now, let me ask you this: “If you gave these two dolls to little boys, what would happen?  [Audience response] Yes; it’d be like—[noises]—boom, boom, boom, boom! They’d be like: “Let’s go get that thing!” and “Woooooo!!!”  [Crashing noises]  I mean, that’s what would happen; right?!  [Laughter] 

So, you get married; and that’s who you are married to, women [falsetto voice]: “Let’s communicate.”  [Manly voice] “Well, what do you want to talk about?”  It’s just like—

Ann: Our boys used to put firecrackers on their GI Joes to blow them up—it’s so different.

Dave: I mean, so here we are talking about:



“Okay; how do you love your spouse, without touching, when we’re that different?” 

You go into the New Testament—Ephesians 5. I just want to take you to the end of Ephesians 5, because we don’t have time to develop all the way through it; but if you look at the very beginning of Ephesians 5, Paul writes to the church in Ephesus—he says, “Be imitators of Christ.”  So, we—if we are followers of Christ—we are supposed to mimic or look like Christ.

He, then, tells us, in verse 18, how to do that—he says, “Be filled with the Holy Spirit.”  That’s how you do it, because we can’t do it a part from the Spirit of God; but then, he goes on to say, “Okay; if you’re filled with Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit is living in you and empowering you.”  This is what it looks like in marriage and in relationships. Many of you know this—it’s the classic text on New Testament, or biblical, or Christian marriage. Here it is: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the church.”  Then, at the very end—I know many of you have heard this—Paul ends it this way—he says, “So, again, I say, ‘Each man must love his wife as he loves himself; and the wife must respect her husband.’” 

Now, it’s interesting that Paul uses two different words when it comes to women and men / wives and husbands.



He says to what your wife?—to love her. But he doesn’t say, “love your husband,”—he says, “respect your husband.”  Why?  I believe / I hope you believe the Word of God is inspired by God. Paul wrote it in his own personality, but God literally inspired each word. So, it wasn’t just coincidence that he said, “love your wife / respect your husband”—it’s based on those differences.

The number one need of your wife, men, is what?—love. The number one need of your men, women, is respect. You know, if you’ve been around the church at all, you’ve heard this. So, when Ann and I thought, “Okay; how do you love your spouse without touching?” it’s going to go along the lines of “What does a woman need?”—love / “What does a man need?”—respect and “What would that look like?” 

So, here is what we decided to do—we thought, “Okay; let’s take that word, touch”—because we’re going to use the letters T-O-U-C-H for women and, then, for men / we’ll go back and forth; okay?  So, we’re just going to go back and forth. So: “What does it look like for a woman? 



“What does a woman really want?  We’ve put this—the first letter for “T” is she wants communication—so we call it “Taaaalk.”  And I put a bunch of “A”s in there; because women don’t want to talk—they want to taaaalk about the relationship.

Ann: And here’s the thing—I think, with women, we bond through communication. If you put two women in a room—if you give us a half hour, we will know so much about each other; won’t we?  We’ll know the names of your kids, what you’ve been going through, how’s your marriage—we know that stuff because we go deep in our discussions.

Dave: They look at each other, face to face—that’s how women communicate. Do you know how men communicate?—shoulder to shoulder. But women—men, they sit together. I mean, we just wrote this: “Words matter.”  And these are sort of personal for our marriage: “Tender words / positive words.”  So, guys, I would say this: “I have learned—I’m not great—but I have learned, men, if I want to light up her world / if I want her to feel loved without touch, the “T” is communicate,”—and it means “taaalk.” 



We go out on a regular date night every week. We went to the Weekend to Remember as an engaged couple 37 years ago. We heard Dennis and Barbara Rainey say, “You need to date.”  We laughed, like, “Who needs to date once they are married?”  You need to date! And when we go out on a date, we taaalk over a nice meal at a nice restaurant. None of that is what I want to do!  [Laughter]  I don’t want to spend any money at a nice restaurant. I just want to go watch a movie, go home, and make love—that’s what I want to do—I’m not kidding. But I’ve realized that it isn’t about me—it’s about: “What would make her feel loved?”—a nice meal / taaalking.

And you know, it’s like—it’s just so important that—well, even, like, when she’s going through something, she wants to taaalk about it; and I want to fix it.

Ann: Well, this one time, Dave came downstairs—he came home, and I was sitting at the kitchen table so frustrated—our boys were little / they were young—had the worst day ever. Somebody had an ear infection / they were fighting—all that.

Dave comes home—he goes, “What’s going on?”  And I said: “It has been the worst day. 



“Sit down. Let me just tell you about this.”  I start venting about my day: “This happened. I feel terrible. I feel like I have no life! I feel like I am just…”—just was going on. Dave looks at me and goes, “Oh my gosh; I’ll be right back.”  He goes upstairs; and I’m thinking, “Why is he leaving?” 

He comes downstairs with this piece of paper. I thought: “Oh my gosh; he wrote me a love note up there. He went up there and wrote me this sweet, little, encouraging note.”  I said, “What’s that?”  He goes: “Well, I went upstairs and I prayed. I felt like God gave me something for you.”  I’m like, “Oh!”  He hands it to me, and it is numbered one to ten. I look at it; and I’m thinking, “Ten ways to tell you I love you and how you are a great mom.” 

“Number one”—and I read it out loud—“Number one, get more organized.”  [Laughter] 

Dave: Pretty good stuff; huh?—[Laughter]—



—pretty good. I’m up here, leading you tonight; alright?  [Laughter]  Men, do not write this down! This is a bad moment.

Ann: And it got worse. It got worse.

Dave: It got much worse.

Ann: Every one of those was all of that. I was like—I mean, it was like steam was coming out of my ears—I said to him, “You think—you prayed about this?!” 

Dave: I did pray about it. [Laughter]  I did! 

Ann: I took the piece of paper—I said, “Here’s what I think of this paper.”  And I took it, and I ripped it up, and I threw it in his face. I said, “That was not from God!” 

Dave: And I said: “That was from God. You just ripped up the word of God.”  [Laughter]  I mean, this is not an exaggeration—that’s exactly how it went down. That’s how clueless I was. So, ladies, if you’re married to me, then, there’s hope; right?  [Laughter]  You’re going to make, maybe. I mean, I had no idea what she really wanted. What did she really want?—every woman here knows. She wanted me just to listen—

Ann: Listen. Don’t fix it!   

Dave: —be part of it with her.

Ann: Just listen to me and nod your head, like:



“Wow! You’re amazing!”  That’s all I wanted. But Dave—it’s so hard for him—it’s like: “Oh, I can fix that!  Oh, I can…”

Dave: And now, I’ve learned. She goes into that—I just sit at the table and go, “Oh, yes; that must have been hard.”  [Laughter]  And when it’s all over, she’s like: “Oh, thank you!  That was so helpful.”  I’m like, “I did absolutely nothing”; right?  [Laughter]  But that’s that taaalk. So, if we see you on the boat and I see you go, “Taaalk,”—okay; we’ll get it. So, that’s the first—the “T” for women.

“T” for men—alright; I was going to say, “Touch,”—I was. That’s what I wanted to put in.

Ann: It’s like: “We can’t start with that.” [Laughter]

Dave: Okay; so, the “T” is “Thank him.”  And this is true; isn’t it, men?  Men—I mean, I sort of represent you right now; but respect is: “Appreciate who he is. Notice what he does. Affirm privately / affirm publicly.”  Well, let me tell you—we are / us men—we are like little boys.



We long for somebody to respect us, somebody to notice us, somebody to affirm us.

Let me tell you, ladies—you probably know this—but if you ever tear him down in public, you are crushing the soul of your man. You will probably never understand it—we are like twelve-year-old boys, like: “Watch me!  Watch me!  Watch me do the nay nay!”—you know, it is like we’ll say that—but “Watch me!” When our wife tears us down privately or, especially, publicly—let me tell you the opposite is true. When you affirm your man alone, behind closed doors, and also in public—thank him, appreciate, notice what we do—it’s absolutely life-giving to a man.

Ann: And I think what I realized was I had these expectations. Instead of thanking Dave for the things that he did do, I was just complaining about the things that he didn’t do.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: And for you, that was totally demotivating.

Dave: Well, I remember one night. We’d been talking about this in our relationship, and I was just trying to explain to her how much it means to me. We sat down, and she was reading a book about it.



We sat down—the boys were all in the house at the time. All she did was say, “Hey, before we eat, I want to say something to Dad.”  She turned to me—she goes: “Thank you for all you do for this family. Thank you for working so hard to provide the money that provides this. Thank you for…”—I mean, she just went through about four or five things.

As she said it, I was thinking: “The books right there. She’s just doing what the book told her to do”—you know— “I know that’s what it is.”  But as she did it, my chest started puffing out; you know?  I could feel it inside—like, “I am the man; aren’t I?”  It was just like unbelievable.

Ann: So, for you guys, that’s totally motivating.

Dave: Oh, it was like, “I will take down the world for you, because you appreciate and notice what I’m doing.”  Am I right, guys?! 

Audience: Yes.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Wow.

Dave: So, women, thank him. Out there in the pool—stand up, have your man stand up, and thank him in front of the whole boat; alright?  [Laugher] 

Alright; let’s go to the “O”. We’ve got to fly. So, the “T” for women—it was talk. Now, for women—we’ll go back to women—for guys, here’s what they want—



—is for us to “Open up.”  What does that mean?  I just put down this: “Level Five—share your heart / be vulnerable.” 

Ann: Yes! 

Dave: So, let’s talk about it a little bit.

Ann: For us, as women, we long for you guys—we long to know what’s going on inside. And I know for some of you guys, you’re like, “I don’t even know what’s going on inside;” you know?  But for us, as women, we want to know you—we want to know your hopes, your dreams, your fears. We want to know what you’re thinking about stuff.

Dave: I mean, Level Five Communication—if you’ve ever been to the Weekend to Remember, we use the chart there. Level One is, like, cliché—it doesn’t mean anything. When you get down to Level Five, Level Five means I’m sharing my heart / I’m being vulnerable.

I’ve discovered that makes Ann feel loved. When I share with her my fears, my weaknesses, the things I’m struggling with rather than hiding it—I don’t share that with any other woman on the planet / that’s wrong and inappropriate. I will share with my best buddies, and I’ll share it with Ann. She’s the only one that gets my heart. But I’ve learned over the years, when I go there with her, it makes her feel loved without touch—it’s unbelievable! 


I remember, years ago—you know, I’m the Detroit Lions chaplain. Anybody know that?  Detroit Lions fans?—okay; I didn’t think so. [Whistles and shouts]

Ann: Yes! 

Dave: There’s more here than in Detroit! I never hear that in Detroit.

But one of the things we used to do—I’ve been doing this 32 years. Like 20 years ago—long story short—we would take players into high schools during the off season—five of us—and do an assembly, and compete against their athletes, and then talk about Jesus in a public high school. It was awesome. The guys would all wear these tank tops that said “Pro Challenge.” 

Well, one day, one of our players didn’t show up. So, I had to compete with them like I was one of the guys; right?  You can imagine what a NFL player looks like in a tank top; alright?  You don’t need to imagine what I look like in a tank top; alright?  I’m standing in this school, and they are introducing us; right?  Beside me is a guy named Chris Spielman, who was a guy—at the time, was a linebacker—big guy. We all called him “Mr. Meat”—just ripped. I’m standing beside him in my little tank top.

And there is a teacher, on the wall like ten feet down. I hear the teacher look down and go: “Hey! Who is that little guy down there?” [Laughter]



And Chris hears it and goes, “Did you hear that?”  I go, “No!”  [Laughter]  Then, I hear, and I can see it over here—I can hear the other teachers sort of look down and go, “Oh, he must be a kicker or something.”  [Laughter]  And Chris starts laughing—nothing against kickers / if any of you are kickers, I love you—you’re awesome. But I was a quarterback, and I was an Hall of Fame quarterback. So, that was like, “A kicker?!”—right?

So, anyway, the day goes on. I come home that night. My ego had been sort of hit; you know?  So, Ann and I get the boys down to bed. We’re sitting in the family room, and Ann says to me—

Ann: Well, he’s really quiet.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: And he just seems different. I said: “Hey, so, what happened today?  It seems like something happened. Are you okay?”  He goes: “Yes, I’m fine. It was good.” 

Dave: Yes; I was Level One—“Not going there”; you know? 

Ann: And I kept pushing, like: “I know something happened. What happened?  Come on. Share it with me.” 

Dave: So, finally, she says, “Okay; I won’t ask anymore, but you seem like something happened today.” 

And I go, “Well, we were at this high school, and this guy said…” and I had no humor. “It was just like, ‘I’m a kicker now,’”—



—you know, sort of like that. And she is so wise—she knew that my little male ego had been hit, and I’ll never forget this night until I die.

She said, “Dave Wilson turn off the TV.”  I hit the mute button and then I turned—[Laughter] I’m kidding!  Do not say: “Oh! It’s okay to hit the mute.”  No; the TV went off; right?  I turned, and she like looked me—it’s like this—she put her hands on my knees and she’s like 18 inches away—and she looks right in my eyes—and she doesn’t even remember it. I could tell you exactly what she said: “I’ve got to tell you something. You have a great body.”  That’s what she said. So, what you’re learning here is—sometimes, it’s okay to lie in marriage. [Laughter]  But she said that—she sort of had a little smile on her face.

Then she said this—she goes: “I want you to know something. You are a good man—you are a man of God. You lead me, and you lead the boys spiritually; and don’t you ever forget what a real man is. 



“That’s what a man is. It is not about pecks or a chest. It’s about walking with Jesus and leading us, and you are that man. Thank you for being that man.”  [Applause] 

Ann: Right; right.

Dave: So, why do I remember that?!—because it was a moment of respect in my marriage that I’ll never forget. Here’s what I thought before I opened up and went to Level Five with her—I thought—well, when I finally did—it’s like: “I’m giving her a gift”—right?—“I know she likes this—here we go.”  Who got the gift?  Whew!—it came back—so she feels loved / I feel respected. I’m just telling you, guys—it’s worth the risk and fear to go there.


Bob: Well, we’ve got to break in here. We’ve been listening to the first part of a message that we’ll actually finish up this week. We’ve been listening to Dave and Ann Wilson from the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, talking about how to love each other without ever touching.



I love the way they just share so transparently from their own hearts / their own marriage.

Dennis: Yes; Bob, in fact, I think that’s one of the strengths of the entire cruise. Our communicators, who deliver the message, talk about authentic relationships, where they blew it and they weren’t always perfect.

I think one of the greatest needs today, within the community of faith following Jesus Christ, is for people to be real and to let others know that “Yes; you’re not the only one who struggles in your marriage or has a problem in this part of your relationship.”  Dave and Ann did a wonderful job of allowing us to, not just peek, but open the curtains and kind of hear where they truly struggled in their relationship.

Bob: I thought one of the great strengths of this year’s cruise was that they had opened up Guy Fieri’s Burger Shack up on the ninth deck, on the Lido Deck.

Dennis: Man, I’m telling you.

Bob: We wanted to make sure listeners are aware: “If you want to join us on next year’s Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, March 20 is the end of our early-bird discount season.



Go to FamilyLifeToday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—get in touch with us and let us reserve your stateroom for next year.

Now, tomorrow, we are going to hear Part Two of Dave and Ann Wilson’s message about how we can communicate love to one another without touching. I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. Help for today. Hope for tomorrow.


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