Physical touch may seem like a given in your relationship, but it can actually be overlooked and forgotten about. It’s essentially something every person can truly benefit from. You may not stop to think how your body physically reacts to a squeeze of a hand, warm hug, cozy snuggle, or even a compassionate hand rest on the shoulder.
Physical Effects of Touch
Research shows the many health benefits, improved attitude, and feelings of connection that are brought on by a simple physical touch. “Stimulating touch receptors under the skin can lower blood pressure and cortisol levels, effectively reducing stress,” explains psychologist Matthew Hertenstein, PhD, director of the Touch and Emotion Lab at DePauw University. “[Physical Touch is] processed by the reward center in the central nervous system, which is why they can have a powerful impact on the human psyche, making us feel happiness and joy,” states neurologist Shekar Roman, MD.
A Touch Goes a Long Way
A physical touch with ANYONE has shown to have benefits for both people… a mother and daughter, two friends, or even two strangers, so why not use physical touch for the benefit of you and your partner. In your romantic relationship it actually goes beyond lowering stress and blood pressure, but creates a stronger bond and feeling of closeness with your significant other as well.
A touch can become personal (and maybe why it can seem uncomfortable for many to touch a stranger despite the health benefits). It can cause feelings and emotions to stir up. It can make you feel safe, cared for, understood, loved, or needed. It can show affection and also spark a intimate connection between two lovers; and after all, you and your spouse are lovers of one another even when times are rough or the fire between you seems to have fizzled out. A sensual touch can ignite the passion in your sexual relationship you may have literally lost touch with.
Being aware of the physical touch you give and receive to & from your partner can help build your connection not only physically but emotionally too. Try giving the next hug between you two an extra few seconds of meaningful embrace or give a gentle squeeze of his or her arm when you apologize. The actual touch can help show compassion or sooth nerves. Feeling physically close through touch can allow each other to be more open to one another.
Creating a Physical-Touch Connection
So maybe your relationship has been lacking in the touch department. How do you get the touchy-feely love flowing? Start with recognizing each touch… from an accidental brush of the hand, to the arm around your shoulder, to the passionate kiss. Try to feel the physical reactions and emotions from these. Make an effort to reach out to touch your spouse more too. Use a date night to do something together where you will have to be “in-touch” with one another.
Recently Michelle Scharlop, LMFT and I launched Cooking Couples Connect, a fun, interactive cooking class facilitated by an Executive Chef. The class is exclusively for couples who are looking to tighten their relationship and strengthen their bond. Cooking and touching go hand-in-hand. Can you imagine how connected you feel sharing one oven mit between the two of you at the same time, all while preparing part of the meal? How about the feeling you’ll receive while feeding each other during the demonstration? Couples have shared how much fun it is cooking together and being physically close with their partner. I witnessed the couples’ chemistry first-hand as the couples took on the intimate challenge and left feeling closer and more connected with the magic of physical touch.
For more information about Cooking Couples Connect or about Couples Counseling contact Susan Block, LMFT.
Updated June 30, 2015: Our next Cooking Couples Connect is Friday July 31, 2015 in Davie, Florida. Reserve your place today and get ready for a fun night of cooking, laughing, eating, and connecting on this romantic date for you and your other half!