Marriage Momentum: The Power of Touch
By Paul Gauche
Once a day… Take Time to Touch … (If Only For a Minute)
“See how she leans her cheek upon her hand.
O that I were a glove upon that hand.
That I might touch that cheek!”
—William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
“Will you scratch my back for me?”
I can’t tell you how many times through the years I’ve ended the day with this request. And I suppose that reveals something about our marriage of 30 years, and how I probably should be asking something like: “Want me to scratch your back for you?” But that’s for another blog entry at another time.
“Will you scratch my back for me?”
There is something remarkably powerful about touch. According to some data, premature babies who were messaged had a 47% increase in weight gain and went home, on the average, six days earlier than infants who were not messaged. And at 8 months of age, these babies were also better able to calm themselves and continued to show better weight gain and intellectual and motor development compared to babies who hadn’t received the messages.
And then there’s the data about how people often go to hairdressers and barbers because it feels so good to have someone physically touch them. I used to get my haircut at a place where the first thing the stylist would do is give me a scalp massage with eucalyptus oil! I’d pay just for that!
In the context of married relationships, physical touch is critical to building romance and intimacy. This isn’t about touch as it related to sexual play. This is the simple act of connecting through physical touch while a spouse is doing an ordinary task. This is the profound act of connecting through the simplicity of a quick back rub, a quick kiss, holding hands, a gentle squeeze on your partner’s shoulder as he or she is preparing a meal, etc.
In fact, people who pay attention to the numbers with all of this this tell us that eight to ten meaningful touches each day help us maintain emotional and physical health. In an online issue of Men’s Health Magazine, a study was referenced in which German physicians and psychologists offered these conclusions:
Those who kiss their loved one each morning
- miss less work because of illness than those who do not;
- have fewer auto accidents on the way to work;
- earn 20 to 30 percent more money each month;
- live approximately five years longer.
Everyone has a unique touch factor. So, of course, a lot of conversation should go into understanding each other and how and when each of you likes to be touched… or not.
So to build some MarriageM o m e n t u m this week, determine when the two of you can get away for an hour. An dyes, see if you can find some neutral ground—a coffee shop, a restaurant, someplace where you’re free from the distractions of your home and begin with these questions:
- How did your parents and family show affection?
- Do you like or dislike the kind of physical affection you grew up with?
Gaining MarriageM o m e n t u m . . .
So how’s your ‘touch’ life? Are you giving and receiving your daily dose of human touch to each other? Drs. Les and Leslie Parrott suggest using the following self-assessment to help you measure how much touch you enjoy in your marriage. So take a moment, individually, to answer these questions as honestly as you can, then compare your answers with each other.
T F I know exactly when my partner most appreciates a tender touch.
T F We enjoy a genuine and lasting embrace every day.
T F I’d say we touch each other more than most couples do.
T F I can remember exactly when and where we enjoyed a hug yesterday.
T F We almost always steal at least a quick kiss when reconnecting.
T F When we gently touch and caress each other, it isn’t just a signal for sex.
T F If asked to describe exactly how my partner likes to be touched, I’d have no problem describing it.
T F We give each other massages every couple weeks or so.
T F I have used touch on occasion to defuse a tense moment between us.
T F I can recall a specific time when a touch between us conveyed more than words ever could.
What you want to do now is add up the number of “true” responses. If that number is eight or higher, you are well on your way to enjoying a daily dose of tender touch. If your total isn’t that high, you will certainly benefit from the tips offered in the chapter for finding creative ways to bring touch into each and every day of your marriage.
So now go refill your coffee cup and come back to the table and chat through these reflections questions:
- How did your parents and family show affection? Do you like or dislike the kind of physical affection you grew up with?
- What kind of touch do you like most?
- When do you like to be touched?
- When do you not like to be touched?
- How can you greet each other more affectionately at the end of the day?
- I like to be kissed … (fill in the blank)
- I like to be hugged … (fill in the blank)
- How can you incorporate more touch into your life?