Have you gotten out of the habit of touching your partner like you used to?
Hi, I'm Nicola Foster, I'm a Sex and Relationship Therapist and I work with couples who want to reignite intimacy in their lives. In this article I share some of my recommendations on how couples can use touch to reconnect with each other.
Physical connection is something that we all need, and nowhere is it more important than when you’re part of an intimate relationship. We may touch 'out of habit', or got out of the habit of touching altogether. Research tells us that couples who hug or touch regularly have better sex lives, and are happier and healthier.
Touch helps us form closer, more connected relationships. It's one of the main forms of nonverbal communication and when we’re in an intimate relationship we want to feel more connected - making touch a key element of a healthy relationship.
When it comes to intimacy, quality, nourishing touch can provide deeper, more connected feelings than sex.
If you feel that you’ve drifted apart or aren’t as close as you once were, consciously choosing to include more touch is a great way to reconnect and get closer again.
This is a great game to play if you want to practice touch and learn what you like and what your partner likes. Each person takes turns to be the giver and the receiver. Simply agree a time in each role - from 10 minutes to 30 minutes is a good starting point.
The giver begins touching the receiver and the receiver then responds in one of four different ways:
Yes - meaning 'Yes, keep going'.
No - meaning ‘No for now’ (not no forever). The giver then takes their hand away and tries something different.
Pause - this means 'I'm not sure'. The giver keeps their hand still and waits for further instructions from the receiver.
Please - this means the receiver really likes it and would like more, please!
The key to this game - go slowly, and ensure that the receiver keeps giving verbal feedback at all times. If they forget, a simple 'Hello' from the giver acts as a gentle reminder!
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut when it comes to touch within an intimate relationship. But touch comes in many different forms - from all over body massages, right through to nuzzling and stroking hair!
So learn to experiment with how you touch each other and what you prefer. Download the FREE guide to different types of touch below.
Daily touching is a good habit to get into, but often, it’s easy to let this slip as the day takes hold and other things grab our attention.
So take time each day to ask each other how you’d like to be touched today. It’s not only a great way to encourage and increase intimacy, it’s also a good way of learning how to communicate your needs.
Dr. David Schnarch includes this powerful exercise in his book Passionate Marriage. It’s perfect for all couples, but especially those who haven’t touched each other for a long time.
How do you hug till relaxed? Simple - you stand on your own two feet, put your arms around your partner and focus on yourself as you quiet yourself down and feel into the hug.
You’re tuning into how it feels to be in the hug. How it feels to focus on yourself, how aware of your 'togetherness' or 'separateness' you are, as well as your body position and how connected (or unconnected) you feel. Also become aware of how you know when you want to pull away and when your partner wants to pull away. You can find a breakdown of these guidelines on the Grow Counseling website: https://growcounseling.com/improve-your-sexual-intimacy-by-hugging/.
I use the 3-minute game all the time in my couples therapy work. It offers a great deal of insight into how you want to be touched, but also into your patterns in relating. Do you find it hard to receive? Are you scared to take what you like? Can you give generously? Dr Betty Martin has a great video that explains how to play the 3-minute game: https://bettymartin.org/how-to-play-the-3-minute-game/.
If you’re looking for a quick rundown of it, here’s what you need to know. It consists of two simple questions, that you take in turns to ask - ‘How do you want me to touch YOU for 3 minutes?’ and ‘How do you want to touch ME for 3 minutes?. Give each other time to think and respond and look at how you can compromise, if their answers aren’t something you’re comfortable with.
Remember, physical connection is vital to our happiness and the wellbeing of our relationships. I wish you a lot of fun and pleasure as you find new ways introduce touch back into your relationship and reconnect with your partner, in a safe and fun way.
Download your FREE GUIDE to different TYPES OF TOUCH here...
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