The Value of Affirming Touch

with Ann Wilson, Dave Wilson | March 9, 2017

Dave and Ann Wilson walk through an acrostic built around the word "touch." They offer helpful ways for husbands and wives to communicate love through non-sexual touch.

Show Notes and Resources

Dave and Ann Wilson -

Dave and Ann Wilson walk through an acrostic built around the word "touch." They offer helpful ways for husbands and wives to communicate love through non-sexual touch.

Show Notes and Resources

Dave and Ann Wilson -

The Value of Affirming Touch

With Ann Wilson, Dave Wilson
March 09, 2017
| Download Transcript PDF

Bob: Where do you feel like you fall on your spouse’s priority list? Ann Wilson says, if you feel like it’s pretty far down the list—that can produce a bitterness that gets toxic.

Ann: This is where it starts with our attitude and our thoughts. I remember thinking, “If he would spend as much time caring about me as he cared about his Harley—that would be amazing.” And then I would take that thought, and I would just stuff it inside. I would think: “Gosh! If he would get home in time to do the things I wanted to do instead of doing his thing—that would be nice,”—and I’d take that thought. I stuffed myself with bitterness, with anger, with resentment. It would almost leak into my life, and it would make me numb. It stole my heart and my feelings. I would stuff it, because I wanted to use it as ammunition later.

Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Thursday, March 9th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.


Just what does it look like in marriage for us to take bitter thoughts captive and to make sure they don’t become toxic in our marriage? We’ll hear from Dave and Ann Wilson today. Stay with us.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Thursday edition. We’ve been spending time this week reflecting back on the Love Like You Mean It® marriage cruise, which was just a couple of weeks ago. You and I were onboard, along with a great lineup of speakers this year. We had great artists and just a lot of fun!

One of the things—I was onboard with my sister-in-law and brother-in-law. They’d never been on the cruise with us before. My brother-in-law said, “How do you decide which sessions to go to?!” And I said—

Dennis: By the way, there are over 88 hours of content and different sessions offered throughout the week on the cruise.


Bob: —and I told him / I shared your advice, which was, “Don’t try to do it all.” But I said: “In the evening, pretty much everybody goes to the sessions. That’s where we’ve got our keynote speakers. Very few people skip out of the evening session.”

But I did think, when I saw that Dave and Ann Wilson, who were on with us, speaking this year—Dave and Ann give leadership to a church in Detroit, Michigan, called Kensington Church. They’ve spoken at our Weekend to Remember® getaways for more than 25 years. I thought, “They’re going to be speaking on how to love one another without ever touching.” I thought, “If I read that title, I might go, ‘I’m not even sure I want to hear that! [Laughter] That sounds like torture!’”

Dennis: Well, but you know what? They are extremely popular. Their message, as you’re about to hear, is just a sampling of what you’ll get on the Love Like You Mean It cruise.



Next year, we’ve got a cruise that starts on February 11th, all the way through the 17th. It’s an extra day longer than previous years--that’s 2018, by the way—headed out of Fort Lauderdale, Florida. It’s going to go to the Dominican Republic, Grand Turk Island, and Half Moon Cay. It’s got all kinds of speakers—Bryan Loritts / Ron Deal.

Bob: A great lineup of speakers / a great lineup of artists—but here’s the thing—we’re already more than 60 percent sold out for next year’s cruise. In fact, we’ve never had as many people sign up for next year on the cruise as we did this year—it was just a great response. We thought we’d better let our listeners know: “If you want to join us, you’d better sign up early; because this could sell out this spring.”

Dennis: And I think what moved a lot of people over the top to sign up was that we’re going to have two sneak preview movies. The Kendrick brothers—

Bob: —the brand-new movie that the Kendrick brothers have not shot yet. They’re going to have an early cut for us next year on the cruise.



And then, the Erwin brothers, who have just finished shooting a movie, I Can Only Imagine, which is the story of that song—really Mark Miller’s story. We’re going to be able to sneak preview both of those movies next year on the cruise. Just a lot going on next year and not a lot of cabins left. If you want more information about joining us on the cruise, go to; or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

I mentioned the message from Dave and Ann Wilson. We’ve already heard the first part of that message. They took the word, “touch,” and they made an acrostic out of it, where each letter represents something that both husbands and wives need to understand about romance for each other. For example, Ann said, for a woman, the “T” stands for “taaalk.” They need—women want a lot of—with a lot of “a”s—taaaalk. And men, Dave said, “T,” for them, means “Thank him.” A guy wants to be appreciated and wants to be respected by his wife.



They’ve already started into the acrostic as we pick up Part Two of this message from the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.

[Recorded Message]

Dave: Alright; let’s go to the “O.” We’ve got to fly! For guys, here’s what they want—it’s to open up. What’s that mean? I just put down, “Level Five: Share your heart / be vulnerable.”

Ann: Yes! For us, as women, we long for you guys—we long to know what’s going on inside. We want to know your hopes, your dreams, and 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 a chart there, where Level One is like cliché / it doesn’t mean anything. But when you get down to Level Five—Level Five means I’m sharing my heart—I’m being vulnerable. I have discovered that makes Ann feel loved when I share with her my fears / my weaknesses—the things I’m struggling with—rather than hiding that. I don’t share that with any other woman on the planet—that’s wrong and inappropriate. But I’ve learned, over the years—man, when I go there with her, it makes her feel loved without touch!



Now, here’s the “O” for men!

Ann: “Offer yourself.” Women, offer yourself. [Cheers]

Dave: Yes; man, you can cheer! [Laughter] It’s just what you think! We put in there, “Initiate sometimes.” It’s all about respect: “I want you!” over “I love you.” It’s more important to a man—am I right?! We’d rather feel wanted than loved. Don’t even give us love cards—we couldn’t care less! We throw them in the trash. If you give us “I want you” cards or respect cards, we save those! Am I right, guys? It is like those are in a file right there: “Look at that one! She wrote, ‘I want you,’ on that one.”

Ann: And here’s the thing that I’ve realized—for Dave, that makes him a better man when he feels like—I said to him one time, “Tell me the top three phrases I can say to you.” He said, “I want you,”— number one—“I need you” and “I’m proud of you.” Ask your guy that: “What means the most to your guy?” I thought, “O my gosh, I may not feel like this; but I need to be intentional about this.”

Dave: Yes; I don’t think women/wives really understand how important this area is to a man, in the area of respect.


We tend to think it’s just a need: “He has a need, and so I have to. . .” No, no, no! It’s so much bigger than that for a man—it is tied to our respect. When I feel like—and I’m not saying initiate every day—but every once in a while, when Ann brings this up—I mean, one day—I’m a pastor at a church; right? We have 250 on staff. We’re in a meeting. I’m leading and I’m praying: “God wants us to take this thing and cast all of this vision.” While I’m doing that—I’m not kidding! —all of these staff are leaning in, like: “Here’s where we’re going! God’s going to do this!” I looked down at my iPad®—a little text comes in—it’s from Ann; and it says, “Get ready, Baby!” [Laughter] I’m like—nobody knows but me! I’m like: “Okay! We’re done! See ya!” [Laughter] I mean, just that text from her, saying, “I’m offering myself to you,”—it was unbelievable! [Laughter]

One time, I was doing a chapel service for the Lions—we have chapel on Saturday night in the hotel.


It was my birthday—I got up to speak. Five minutes into the message, one of our players walks in late and he hands me an envelope.

Ann: It says: “Emergency! Open Immediately.”

Dave: Well, I was in the middle of my thing—so I just put it down and kept going. Luther, the player, came in and said: “Dude; no! You’ve got to open that right now.” I was like, “Oh, my gosh!” So I opened it up. I do not know, to this day, why I read it out loud. [Laughter] I do not know! I just—I thought—you know, my boys or something—I just ripped it open real quickly. It said: “Hey, big boy! I’m up in Room 2027!” [Laughter] “Oh, wait!”

Ann: Seriously! [Laughter] I just thought I wanted him to have it so he’d be totally shocked—

Dave: Oh, my gosh!

Ann: —not ever, ever thinking he’d read it out loud.

Dave: When I closed the thing, the whole room was like—[Laughter]

Anyway, we’ve got to keep going!

Ann: I know.

Dave: So you’ve got the “T” and the “O.” Now, we’re going to the “U” for women. What women want: “’’U’ before me.” That’s sort of a strange way to say it; but it’s the guy saying, “You are more important than me.”



It’s a selfless act to say: “You matter the most. I’m here to serve you as I serve Christ, not the other way around.”

Ann: And I think this has been really hard for us, to be honest. I have felt, a lot of times, like everything else is more important than me. I feel like, at times, Dave’s job is more important / his multiple jobs. And I feel like I’m kind of in the last spot. So even, sometimes, I would call him and say, “Hey, Honey, are you on your way home?” “Yes.” I would say, “Could you just stop and pick up some hamburger?” Here is, notoriously, what Dave would say—he would always come back with a question: “Now, what do you want me to do?” And then here is what I would say every time: “Forget it. I’ll just do it myself,” because, for me, it was like him saying, “No.”

Dave: Yes.

Ann: I wanted him to be like, “All of the time and energy I put into my work, and all of the people, and all of that, I want to put that into you.” That makes me feel loved! That, for me, says: “I love you. You’re the most important thing.”

Dave: Yes; and I actually wrote in there [the notes]: “Kick it in when you get home.”



It’s so easy for me, when I get home—I’m exhausted / I just want to relax. It is like: “No, no, no. That’s my real job!” I even put a drop-off point—I heard a guy tell me, years ago: “On your way home, think of it as, ‘I’m taking my job, and I’m putting it there.’” I had a mailbox on a road on the way home—just visually—putting my job there and picking up my real job. The most important job in my life is to love her, lead her, and to lead my boys; right?—that was it.

I had to change my whole mentality—it is like: “It’s not about me. It’s about her / it’s about Him.” It had to be selfless to go home. I actually wrote down there, “Vacuum.” I head a woman say this once: “When he turns on the vacuum cleaner, that’s foreplay.” [Laughter] So I put it in there [in the notes]!

What does that mean?—“When he serves me…”?—“’U’ before me”—it was telling her / it was like a turn-on—it was just that picture of “’U’ before me.” Obviously, this comes from Ephesians 5:25— men, I hope you know this: “As Christ loved the church, so we will love our wife.” What does that mean?—self-denial / die.


We get married to die to ourself—to live unto Christ and to live unto our wife. So it’s interesting—if you go over to the other side, what do men want? Guess what the “U” is?

Ann: The same thing.

Dave: The exact same thing.

Ann: And have you ever done this, as a woman, especially when your kids are all in the home? It’s almost like they become more important / your job is more important, and then your husband gets the last of you too.

My dad came to visit us one time. He was just observing some things. He didn’t live in our state. We were eating dinner; and he looks at me and goes, “Man, it must be nice to be your kids.” I thought that was a real compliment. “Wow! I think it probably is. Thanks!” He goes, “Too bad you don’t treat Dave as well as you treat them.” That night, in bed, I thought: “God, is that true? If that is true, I pray that you would confirm it.” That next week, my dad sent me the first letter I had ever received in my life from him. It was a “Dear Abby”article of a man leaving his wife because the children came before him. That was the confirmation.



I realized, for Dave to feel respected, I need to make sure that he feels like he matters and he’s a priority to me too.

Dave: And here’s the truth—Kevin said it last night—love and/or respect is not a feeling—it’s a choice. Selfishness is our DNA—it’s sin nature / it’s natural. Selflessness is not natural—you have to choose it. You’re not going to feel it—you have to choose it. Whether it’s the guy putting her before him or the gal putting him first, it’s the same either way—we saw it!

Ann: And here’s what I feel like—I want Dave to feel like he knows how much God loves him by the way I treat him.

Dave: Yes.

Ann: Let me tell you—that is not happening most of the time, I would say—but wouldn’t that be awesome?—if Dave feels like, “I know how much God loves me by the way Ann loves me.”

Dave: Alright; let’s go to the “C.” Ann and I do a thing around the country called “Rock Your Marriage,” and it’s these two “C”s—we define love with the “C” word for women—it’s “cherish.” The love word is confusing. We don’t even know what it means. I mean, people in Detroit say, “I love the Detroit Lions.” “No; you don’t!”



It is like, “I love ice cream.” “Do you really?” “No!” But cherish—guys get, because we cherish things. I have a couple of guitars at home. You’re not touching them!—right? You protect things you cherish. You polish things you cherish. You show off things you cherish. I think women want to be cherished more than they actually want to be loved. It’s like priority number one—you care for her; you know her; you protect her; you show her off.

It isn’t just that you think she’s beautiful—you think she’s valuable. That equals cherished or loved—beautiful plus valuable equals loved. It’s like everything else in my life can be more important than Ann, and she is not feeling cherished. It’s like other things make her feel cherished; right?

Ann: Yes; and I think what happens for us, as women, is we notice that. If I feel like Dave’s job is more important, I can start in my head—this is where it starts—with our attitude and our thoughts. I remember thinking, “If he would spend as much time caring about me as he cared about his Harley—that would be amazing.”


Then I would take that thought, and I would just stuff it inside. I would think: “Gosh! If he would get home in time to do the things I wanted to do instead of doing his thing—that would be nice,”—and I’d take that thought. I stuffed myself with bitterness, with anger, with resentment—and then I would have this unforgiving heart. It would almost leak into my life, and it would make me numb. It’s like it stole my heart and my feelings. I would stuff it, because I wanted to use it as ammunition later. When he hurt me, I would take it out and I would accuse him of all these things. Dave didn’t even know what to do with that.

Dave: All I know is I’ve learned—and I’m still learning—she longs to be cherished. When she knows there’s nothing more important in my life—to her, she feels loved. Am I right, women?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: That’s it. That is her number one love language: “Jesus is it, and you’re next. It isn’t my job and all of these other things—it is you,”—that’s cherished.

And then, for the guys, it’s “cheer.”


You know—what does respect mean?It means: “I cheer you,” “I brag about you,” “I speak life into you,” “I stop criticizing you. I’m not your mom,”—no guy wants to marry his mom!—right? We don’t want that! We had enough of that! “Please respect me enough to not tell me everything I need to do!” Cheer minus critique equals respect.

We shared that story last year about how I felt she had booed me. That’s where that whole thing comes on—it’s like I walked in the house, and felt like everybody else cheered me, but she was booing me. Now, she doesn’t do that anymore to me. She really doesn’t—she affirms me. You thank me / you respect me. It’s unbelievable! I don’t even deserve it—she’s like, “You are an amazing guy!” And I’m thinking, “No; I’m not.” You know? [Laughter]

And yet, I’ve watched, over the years—women, you need to understand this. When she would say I was “this guy,” and I sort of thought I was “this guy,” I started to become the guy she said I was. Women don’t think that’s how it works: “If I say that, it’s like I’m lying; and he’ll think he’s that guy and he’ll never get there.”


No; it’s the opposite with men and boys. It’s like, when you believe in us, we rise up to it! Again, I’m not saying I’m an amazing guy; but I am a better man today, because she believed I was already that man.

Ann: You are better! [Laughter] You’re amazing!

Dave: Yes, I am! Aren’t I? It’s Valentine’s Day.

Ann: Yes; yes, you are!

Dave: Alright; this is good! We’re done. [Laughter] We’re done! We’ve got to go! It’s like I’m turning on the vacuum cleaner right now. [Applause]

Last one—and we’re out of time—so we’ve got to say this. For her, what a woman wants is to be [“H”]—held. Am I right? And it’s sort of a way to say affection / non-sexual romance.

Ann: Yes!

Dave: Just to touch her—Ann has told me so many times.

Ann: You guys, pursue us! Keep pursuing us! Be affectionate with us—hold our hand / put your arm around us. We love that!

Dave: She’s told me a million times: “Don’t move. Just right there! Hold it right there.” That’s non-sexual—it’s just like, “There’s no agenda here”; but to cherish, and hold her, and love her.


Ann: So ask your wives, “What would it look like for me to pursue you?”

Dave: And then, for the guys, it’s help him—it’s that simple. He needs a partner. I always say this—I’ve said it to my church a lot: “Men have LATS.” You say: “Lats?” Yes; of course, they do.” No!—they’re Lonely, Angry, Tired, and Stressed. Be his partner. Help him carry the things he’s carrying.

So here’s the last thing we’re going to say—to be able to do that—because we can tell you: “Okay; go do it!

Ann: Yes.

Dave: “TOUCH her,” / “TOUCH him,”—but you know now what TOUCH means? It doesn’t mean, literally, touch her—it means taaalk and open up; right? You could try to go out of here and do that—like—it will never work. Do you know why?—because you and I don’t have the power to do any of this. We can do it for a moment, but we can’t sustain it. Why?—because we need the power of God to do it.

We try to find life in our marriages, horizontally, from our spouse. Guess what? We all end up disappointed—am I right?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: At some point, you’re like: “Oh, my gosh! She’s not—or he’s not—giving me what I thought!” And here’s what most people think: “I married the wrong person. I’ve got to find the right one, and then I’ll…” No; they’re looking in the wrong place.



You look vertical. When you go vertical and find life from Christ, He fills you up; and then you can come to your marriage to give rather than take. You don’t need her to respect you / you don’t need him to cherish you. It would be nice, but that isn’t where you’re getting life. You’re getting that from an unconditional God, who gives it through your relationship with Christ—then it overflows.

So here’s the last thing I’ll do—I’ll give you a visual. Here’s how most of us live. It’s like, if you want to live out the Christian life / you want to go live this thing, Ann’s going to pretend like this is what happens. [Ann using a pitcher and water] When you come to Christ, He fills you up with the Holy Spirit. Got it?—right? So it’s beautiful / it’s pure—everything is awesome; right? But that isn’t how life works. You start, in your marriage—you get a little sin in your life. I went to the Guy Burger joint and stole these today—I’m going to take them back. I got a little Tabasco. You know, you got sin in your life / you’ve got anger in your life. By the way, Ann’s going to drink this in a minute! [Laughter] You’ve got—

Ann: —resentment.

Dave: —a little ketchup in there / a little mustard in there. Now look at that! That’s what a lot of people think the Christian life is— right there.



They even think that’s what Christian marriage is: “I thought it was this beautiful, pure thing; and now it’s not like that.” Okay; so how do we clean this up? If I said: “Okay; just go love your wife / respect your husband, it will work,”—it won’t work!

It’s really interesting—remember I said Ephesians 5?—Paul said, “Be imitators of Christ.” How do you do that? Be filled with the Spirit. Here’s literally what he said: “Don’t get drunk on wine, because that’s a waste of time; but be filled with the Holy Spirit.” Some of you know that. It’s really interesting—the comparison—“drunk on wine.” Why does he use that comparison? Because when you’re drunk on wine, what controls you?—the wine or the alcohol in the wine. He says: “Don’t do that. It’s a waste of time, but be filled—or drunk—with the Holy Spirit.”

The word, “filled,” in the original Greek actually means “keep being filled over and over.” It’s not a one-time thing—it’s daily. Keep going back to God to fill you—to replace the sin and the junk in your life and fill you. It’s like you come back to Christ. This isn’t one time—this is over and over.



Watch what happens when you get filled by the Holy Spirit of God. That’s what happens; right? [Applause] I mean, it’s like that’s what it’s supposed to look like! So when you drink this, it’s like crazy; right?

Now here’s the thing about Christian marriage: “Do you know why we’re filled with the Holy Spirit?” Because we’re supposed to take our marriage and show the world what it’s like. So it’s like—[sound of spitting clean water out and audience laughter]—we are supposed to be like that!—right?! We’re supposed to be contagious; right?! We’re filled with the Holy Spirit—it’s supposed to get over our neighborhood! Am I right? Do you want some more?

Ann: No! [Laughter]

Dave: Okay! Enough of that—you don’t need that. That’s what it’s supposed to look like. Oh, my gosh! God fills us together with a power we don’t have—to love her / to respect him—in a way we could never do it; right?

Ann: Yes.

Dave: So that’s how it works! [Applause] It will never happen any other way.

Last thing I’ll say—we’re done. The only action step we have for you tonight, before you crawl into your bed—and this is, obviously, totally up to you—


—we would implore you—get on your knees and surrender again. We did it on our wedding night. We did, as many of you know, on our ten-year anniversary when she said she had lost her feelings for me. The only chance you and I have is Jesus—so surrender. When you surrender, you’re saying: “Fill me. Fill me. Fill me with the power I do not have to be the man / woman we can’t be apart from You.”

Jesus, I pray for these couples—that they would allow You to fill them over and over again to be the men and women—the husbands and wives / the moms and dads—who will literally change the world by spreading the contagious Spirit of God in them and through them to impact the world for Jesus Christ. That’s why You gave us marriage—to make Your Name known through our marriage. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

Ann: Amen!


Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to Part Two of Dave and Ann Wilson’s message from the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise just a couple of weeks ago.


Great response from the audience to what Dave and Ann had to share. I think a lot of that is because you go to an event like this—and you see speakers up on a platform—and you think, “They’ve figured something out that I haven’t figured out.”

Dennis: “They’re perfect.”

Bob: Then the truth is—we have looked at what the Scriptures have to say about marriage, and we’ve tried to apply it; but everybody is dealing with the same stuff in marriage. We’ve just got to be honest that we all deal with it—we’ve all got to figure out how to honor God with the issues we’re facing.

Dennis: I think, as Dave and Ann were speaking, there were 2,600 people who exhaled [Laughter]: “Finally! Somebody else is telling it like it is and helping me know how I take my imperfect marriage and make it go the distance—not just grit our teeth—but instead, smile along the way and have a lot of fun.”

Bob: And I’m always surprised to hear about the spiritual impact of the cruise in people’s lives.

Dennis: Yes; people stop you in the airport, Bob—you know.



Half a dozen different couples stopped Barbara and me on our way to our gate and just talked about how the cruise impacted their marriage in practical ways—whether it was romance, communication, the big picture that their marriage is set apart for something far greater than their own happiness. The point is—they’re leaving the cruise equipped to do life better together.

Bob: And they’ve had a pretty relaxing, fun week at the same time.

Here’s why we wanted to make sure our radio listeners were aware of the cruise for 2018—because we are more than 60 percent sold out for next year’s cruise already. We expect this year’s sell-out will happen sooner than usual. If you want to join us on next year’s cruise—and you want to sign up at the lowest possible prices for next year—go to or call 1-800-FL-TODAY. We can get you information; answer any questions you’ve got; or get your stateroom reserved for the 2018 Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise, February 11-17.



We hope you’ll join us for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise in 2018.

Now, tomorrow, we want to take you onboard the cruise, at least, to the extent that we’re able. We’re going to hear an interview that was recorded during our time onboard the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise with pastor and author, Dr. Kevin DeYoung. So 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 tomorrow for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.

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