You may not like what I am going to tell you, but if you are trying to talk over your problems with your spouse, save your breath. What may work better is to touch your partner. You need to quit talking about your problems and you need to sit with each other and touch. Along with touching have sex. Whether you plan it, or have it spontaneously won’t make a difference, as long as you have it. Day after day, I see couples who are trying to make their marriage better. They want to understand what is happening and work on the way they communicate. Learning to communicate is always wise, but the quickest way to communicate with your spouse is to touch.
When there are problems in a relationship the traditional advice is to talk about it. Talking about problems often doesn’t change anything, and sometimes it can make it worse. You may feel heard, or as if your partner is connected with you, but actions, not words, change things. Actions that involve touching, caressing, and sex make a huge difference to both men and women because the relationship begins to change in a positive way. Most couples understand better after they have been physically close with their spouse. In fact most of my couples come to agreement over issues they have been fighting about when they are being physically intimate with each other.
People view touch as an intimate action (which is why too much public touching is uncomfortable for most of us). For example when you see a couple having dinner with each other and neither is talking and both are looking off into space you may judge them as not being close. What happens to your perception when you see this same couple holding hands across the table? They look differently, and are more engaged. Touch is indicative of better communication, and healthier sex. Touching deepens an otherwise superficial conversation and it tells the person you are touching that you want to be with them. It works for my patients that haven’t had sex in over a year, just as well as it works for my couples who haven’t had sex in a week. It is the quickest way to break a stalemate in a marriage, and the quickest way to say, “I was wrong, please forgive me.” Below are suggestions of how to touch your partner when you aren’t sure what to say with words:
1. Take their hand in yours during a meal, and hold it gently for a couple of minutes.
2. Stroke the back of their neck while you are a passenger in the car.
3. Touch their face with your hand when you say good bye in the morning.
4. When you hug them touch the back of their head feeling their hair.
5. When you go to bed, kiss their neck even if you aren’t going to have sex with them.
6. There are more than 117 erogenous zones on the human body. Don’t get stuck in the rut of only exploring two or three. Ask your partner for guidance in regards to where their body likes to be touched.
7. When your spouse is worried or stressed, never talk; instead, rub their shoulders, and tell them you have faith they will make the right decision.
8. When you are upset with one of the kids, instead of telling your partner it is their fault because they are never there, take their hand and tell them you are glad they are your partner.
9. If you don’t want sex, and your partner does, hold their face in your hands and tell them you want to have sex when you aren’t too tired to enjoy it. Most partners will handle rejection better if they know it has to do with your limitations rather than their inability to please you. It would be good for you to schedule sex for the next day and make sure you follow through.
10. When you are torn, and you want to vent or tell your partner how you feel, know that most likely it will be more effective if you touch them in a loving way while you are telling them how you feel. Sitting on a sofa across the room and venting about your needs is a sure way not to get resolution.
Men and women think differently. When we get married many times we expect our spouse to understand us and use the type of communication with which we are most comfortable. A wiser decision may be to come up with a plan to talk less about your problems, and to act more with physical expression in solving your marital concerns. I know a lot of couples who were unsuccessful with words when they were trying to work on issues in their marriage. I don’t know as many who were unsuccessful with touch. –Mary Jo Rapini
*Please note. Many people don’t like being groped or pawed. If you want to add excitement and not get accused of either of these behaviors, try an ostrich feather or faux fur mittens. This adds an element of fun, and that is what good communication and intimacy is all about.
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