From telemarketing together to married with three kids. It always amazes me when we look back at life, how impactful small what seem like small decisions at the time can end up being in the long run. What if either Megan or Josh hadn't decided to go in for a job interview together for one of the most universally detested jobs out there? Maybe they still would have gotten together, or maybe not. Regardless, it's nice to know that something positive has come out of telemarketing.
Also as Josh and Megan showed, it's not just the small choices in our past that can have a profound impact on our future. In fact, things that are completely out of our control can have tangible consequences in our relationships. How we are raised plays a profound part in how we interact with our partner.
In Josh and Megan's case, Josh was raised in a family where physical touch was an important part of showing familial love and affection. Megan was raised in a more reserved family in that respect. Rather than letting this difference become a wedge between the two of them, they were able to recognize this gap and were able to work out a situation that satisfies both of their needs. This is a great example for all of us of not trying to force our own culture on our partner, but reaching a mutual understanding that takes into the needs of both partners.
Enjoying and engaging with non-sexual touch
Enjoying and engaging with non-sexual touch, such as calming or comforting or connecting touch, doesn’t always come easily or “naturally” to people who aren’t used to it. That being said, non-sexual physical touch is as essential to our health and happiness as nutrition and exercise. Many different kinds of scientific studies find that touch can enhance our immune response, speed healing, lengthen life, and increase markers of overall physical health. There is also evidence that connection through non-sexual touch can increase mental and emotional wellness, counteract depression anxiety, and increase life satisfaction. One of the major barriers to using this powerful tool in our lives is thinking that being “touchy feely” is a quirk or personality trait. It is important to realize that the capacity to receive and enjoy physical touch is a learned skill that increases with practice. Just like learning a new language requires a lot of trying and failing, learning the language of connecting touch usually involves trying new things and being okay with some awkwardness and discomfort at first. The benefits of perseverance can be enormous, however, because the link between mind and body makes touch a powerful tool for deepening and enhancing the sense of connection in a relationship.
Next time your partner comes close for a calming or comforting touch, pay attention to how you feel and whether you are open to being calmed or comforted. When you approach your partner to give comfort or connect in a calm, peaceful (non-romantic) way, try to be in touch with how they are feeling.
If this is an area of challenge for you, just start by thinking about (and discussing, if possible without anger) how comfortable you each are receiving touch and how comfortable you each would like to be.
If it is a strength already, think of a new way of receiving calming or comforting touch. Eye contact and a smile, verbal thanks, squeeze back, etc.
Although any touch can be construed as sexual and not every touch is appropriate in every circumstance, it is important to “broaden our vocabulary” when it comes to communicating calm, comfort, caring, connection, etc. (rather than romantic interest) through touch. Even, or perhaps especially, with our romantic partners.
Examples of non-sexual touching:
Arm around shoulder
Pat on knee
Rest head on shoulder
Sit shoulder to shoulder and thigh to thigh
Hand on middle of back
Forehead to forehead
Hand on shoulder
Tip of finger to cheek or nose
Hand on forearm
Can you think of more?