Touch More, Touch Often 

Touch More, Touch Often 

I lay in my husband’s arms, a small spoon nestled within his big. His arm is draped around me and his large palm rests over my heart. I sigh with contentment. The worries of the day seep into my pillow and tight muscles soften as my heartbeat slows down.

This is the tantalizing, healing power of touch. 

So let me ask you – have you snuggled your sweetheart today?

As you will see in this video, intimate non sexual touch is a beautiful nonverbal way to cultivate connection, calm, and a sense of psychological safety. Plus, it feels really great. 

The Power of Nonverbal Communication

Now let me share something that may seem – well – a bit radical. We talk too much!

So much of our relationship connection is based on words. Now of course we need to discuss all the realities of life, of running our household, getting the kids to their hockey practice, whether to refinance the mortgage this year – all the business of what I call “Marriage Inc” or “Relationship Inc”.

We also use words to improve Fondness and Admiration – from sharing an appreciation to responding to our partner’s bids for connection. And yet too many couples do not cultivate their touch practices.

Well, I’m here to change that. Why? Because touching strengthens your relationship – and it is relatively easy to do.

In my online Become Passion couples program I teach Touch More Touch Often. This is one small lesson in a comprehensive program that covers what I call the Three Keys to Passion. We do extensive work on communication, conflict resolution, recreating romance, betrayal recovery, sexual desire issues  and much more. 

Yet when I ask couples for feedback about this extensive  program one of the top three responses is “the importance of touch and the Three Breath Hug” – even though this is one of the most simple things I teach.

So let me ask you again – did you snuggle your sweetheart today?

If not – or even if you consider yourself a champion snuggler –  here are a few touch practices you can add to your relationship repertoire.

The Three Breath Hug

Face your partner. Then embrace. My man is 8 inches taller than I so my face rests on his chest. Wrap your arms around each other deeply and hold fairly tightly. Place your palms flat on your partner’s back. Then inhale together, pause, and exhale together. Then repeat twice more.

Naked Bedtime Snuggles

I know, you like to wear your banana printed flannel PJs or the faded Rolling Stones tee shirt and boxers to bed. You get cold, you aren’t a fan of sleeping naked and hey, what if the fire alarm sounds and you have to run outside? Look, I get it. But…the positive physiological and emotional impact of skin on skin makes nude snuggling more soothing and effective. That’s why I challenge the couples I work with to make a naked snuggle part of their bedtime routine. Don’t overthink it – simply slip off those pjs and nestle in together for a few minutes. Then if you really need those knee socks over your icebox toes, slip them back on before you drift off to sleep. 

Hold Hands Everywhere

Lucky for me, my husband and I both love physical touch. We hold hands while we walk the dog on the beach. If he’s driving, my hand is on his knee or caressing the back of his neck. We’ve arranged our sectional couch so the length of our bodies press together while we watch a movie – and yes, our fingers or feet are entangled. In other words, we make touch intentional. So I challenge you to buy new cuddle-worthy furniture, schedule a timer to beep to remind you to hug or kiss your sweetheart, and in many different ways make touch intentional, too.

So why does touch feel so good? Think of a newborn baby. Twenty years ago, II had the honor to witness the home birth of my best friend’s daughter. As soon as sweet Nora came out of the birth canal  her father whipped off his shirt and held his baby girl to his bare chest. It was pure instinct – skin on skin, heartbeats together – and she was safe, connected, and welcomed to the world outside of the womb.

What Touch Means

We are born to touch and be touched. As adults, if we are uncomfortable with touch, this is learned behavior. Perhaps we grew up in a household where loving hugs and kisses goodnight were completely absent – behavior our parents learned from their parents and so on.  Perhaps we were shamed when we sought healthy cuddles. We may have been traumatized by abusive touch. The beautiful thing is, we can re-learn the natural enjoyment of healthy human touch.

Human touch activates our parasympathetic nervous system – this is the calm down system that slows your heart rate, lowers your blood pressure, reduces anxiety and stress and lets the mind know “you are safe, there is no tiger hunting you, relax and let go now”. Some recent research proposes that when we activate the vagus nerve – which acts somewhat like a highway between the head and the heart – this also creates calm and safety. Guess what seems to stimulate the vagus nerve? Activities like touch, synchronized breathing, and placing your hand over your partner’s heart.

So if you, like too many couples, only tend to touch during sex – it’s time to redefine the role touch plays in your relationship. One Three Breath Hug at a time.

If you enjoyed this video, check out Dr. Cheryl’s live free couples workshop on the Three Keys to Passion.