Tag Archives: touch

Download New E-book: 10 Secrets to Marital Happiness

Many of you have asked me to compile some of the most important marriage advice into a useful resource that you can share with others. Today, you can download Marriage Gems: 10 Secrets to Marital Happiness at no cost. I’m interested in your feedback on what you consider to be the most important factors or secrets to a happy marriage. Did I leave out any you consider to be essential? What’s your favorite of the ten?

Please pass it on to your friends or family by linking them to this blog post or here. You’ll also see on the page that you can share the e-book via FaceBook, Twitter or other tools, as well as comment on it. I want to thank my amazing designer and great friend Sharron Wright, who helped me make this book stunningly beautiful. (Visit her blog Moms with Grace.) I hope you enjoy the e-book and share it with anyone whom you think would benefit.

In addition to this new e-book, I’ve also added other marriage resources to my blog, including a list of blogs I enjoy, a directory of pro-marriage therapists, and a list of useful marriage books. In case you’re wondering, no one is paying me to recommend any of these resources. Just scan the new pages at the top of the home page to locate them.

If you aren’t a regular subscriber, please consider doing so either via email or RSS in the top right column. We’d love to have you join the conversation here about what challenges you in marriage and what lights your fire.

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Schedule an At-Home Massage with Your Honey

Most ladies I know (including myself) absolutely love getting a massage. Many men do as well. New research adds to our understanding that massage not only feels good, but it’s good for us. Thanks to The Generous Husband for sharing the results of the study, completed at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.

I’ve previously shared the beneficial effects of touch, and that kissing reduces the stress hormone, cortisol. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that blood tests for those who received either a light massage or Swedish deep-tissue massage received the benefits of reduced cortisol. An added bonus was that volunteers received an increase in white blood cells, which help fight infection. Finally,  they increased oxytocin levels, which help you bond.

What would your partner think if you told them tonight you were going to give him/her a soothing massage? If that’s not your spouse’s favorite thing, ask him or her to schedule some time in this week for your massage. It’s a bonding activity that will help you relax and put the rest of the world out of your mind.

Here are some tips the pros use to enhance the massage and to set the right environment at home:

  • If you don’t have some at home, purchase some massage oil; it works much better than lotion.
  • Turn off your phones, TVs and other electronic devices.
  • Find some soothing music to play, and dim the lights.
  • Light a scented candle if you both like the smell.
  • Warm up the room if it is chilly.
  • You might have some warm towels available to help relax the muscles.
  • Give the person giving the massage direction on how hard you would like the touch and areas that are sore or need more attention.

If you have no idea how to give a massage, schedule one for yourself with a professional, or consider scheduling a couples massage so you can enjoy it together. Then, share the techniques you enjoyed most with one another. Giving one another therapeutic touch can be healing for the body and for the marriage. When is the last time you scheduled an at-home massage?

Photo credit: ©Hannes Eichinger/PhotoXpress.com

4 No-Talking Tools to Boost Your Relationship

My recent post on The No-Talking Way to a Better Marriage provided reasons why men react with extreme stress responses when women want to share feelings and discuss relationship problems.

The natural next step is to find out what strategies may be more effective for wives to address concerns or problems. Co-author Patricia Love suggests:

  1. Use nonverbal communication to connect and bond—Use touch (see article and research about the importance of touch), shared activities (games, sports, talking a walk), or sex to bond you as a couple. When you are bonded, women need to talk less, and men want to share more, so you reach a happy middle-ground. When you are closely bonded, it’s easier to communicate lovingly.
  2. Convey compassion—Love says she has learned that compassion is more critical to relational success than love. We convey compassion by learning to empathize with the other person’s emotions, even when we can’t relate to them. Put yourself in your partner’s role. See her fears. See his doubt or shame. Allow yourself to feel compassion for your spouse, rather than to focus solely on your own unmet needs. We may need to re-train our brains to mentally trade places, especially during a conflict.
  3. Develop a hand signal that conveys the love and importance you feel for one another. Use it when you are feeling those emotions, and also keep it handy for when you are having discussions that may turn ugly. If one of you uses this hand signal, it can help prevent arguments from getting out of hand by reminding each of you of the relationships’ priority.
  4. Use positive reinforcement instead of complaining. For example, say, “I really appreciate when you put your laundry away” instead of “Why do you let your laundry sit out for days? It drives me nuts.” It will just come out sweeter, and your honey will be more likely to comply and to remember next time how much it pleases you.

Here’s a longer article about the book if you’re interested.

Do you find any of these strategies helpful? I think bonding and positive reinforcement are particularly effective, and compassion can motivate us to love differently. Thumbs up or down on the hand signals?

Little Touches Make Big Impact in Relationships

 What can NBA players teach us about relationships? More than we think.  Benedict Carey of the New York Times wrote in February about research in Mind magazine in an article called “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” Researchers studied touch–everything from high-fives to warm touches on the shoulder.

One research team tracked every “bump, hug and high five in a single game played by each team in the National Basketball Association early last season.” The journal Emotion is to publish the results this year, but the results are telling:

  • Good teams tended to have more touches than bad ones.
  • The league’s top two teams were the most touch-bonded teams—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • The least touchy teams were the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats, neither of which had good seasons.

Guys, if this doesn’t get your attention about the importance of touch, what will? There is even a scientific basis for why we need touch. “A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisole.” Women who may have high levels of stress hormones may especially crave this touch to help feel bonded. Once the stress hormones are reduced, the brain’s prefrontal areas (regulating emotion) can relax and proceed to solve problems.

“In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as,‘I’ll share the load,’” says James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Researchers also studies romantic partners, and preliminary results show the ones who touched more during interviews reported highest relationship satisfaction. While it’s unclear whether the touching or the satisfaction came first, there is certainly a correlation. For some people whose primary love language is touch, positive contact is even more important.

So, if you’re a man who feels you are sharing the load, but your wife doesn’t always respond in the way you expect, ramp up the amount of (non-sexual) touch in your home. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, here are suggestions. These are also good opportunities to increase your ratio of positive comments to negative, but even a touch alone is beneficial.

  • Give a hug before getting out of bed or starting your day.
  • Give a longer-than-usual kiss when you leave or arrive home.
  • Put your hands on her waist as she is cooking or doing dishes and kiss her cheek.
  • Touch her cheek, or stroke her hair at the end of the day.
  • Rub her shoulders when she seems tired or stressed.
  • Touch her arm when you ask about her day.
  • Sit close enough to touch or snuggle when watching TV.
  • Reach over when driving to momentarily touch her hand or shoulder.

Wives who are moms often turn to their children for positive touch. This can be helpful in releasing stress hormones, but if men are not part of this positive-touch pattern they are missing out on an important part of daily bonding. A bonded team is a successful team. Just ask the Lakers.

A soldier I interviewed said missing positive touch from his family was the most difficult part of his deployment. Do you take positive touch for granted? Do you wish you had more touch during the day? Are you surprised about the NBA study?