“Great marriages don’t happen by luck or by accident. They are the result of a consistent investment of time, thoughtfulness, forgiveness, affection, prayer, mutual respect, and a rock-solid commitment between a husband and wife.” ~Dave Willis
Last month I posted about scheduling time to be with your partner sexually. In this post, I want to add onto this idea of scheduling time for your partner. Think back to when you and your partner were dating. How did you display affection? What did you do to let your partner know you were interested in him/her? Did you hold hands often? Give back rubs? Bear hug? Link arms when walking? Now let me ask, how are you displaying affection TODAY in your relationship? If you are like most people in a long-term relationship or marriage, there is noticeable decline in your level of PDA or even private displays of affection. So this post is all about amping that up to increase the connection in your relationship.
Here is the truth. The best relationships and marriages engage in a lot of touching…sex being only one form of touching. Yes, it is the one our minds typically go to first as the healing or unifying display of affection, but there is a great deal of power in non-sexual affection as well. Researchers and love experts, Gary Smalley and John Trent, have written that, “8 to 10 meaningful touches a day is really a minimum requirement for a woman to stay emotionally and physically healthy.” And the same is true about men; I have found through years of counseling that both men and women crave affection and want to feel valued!
Are you and your partner sharing 8-10 meaningful touches a day? Most of us are so busy with life that the answer to this question is an unfortunate no! If this includes you, start by asking your partner how they like to receive affection and share with them specific ways you like to be touched. Use the list below to help you and your partner brainstorm ways you each like to be touched. It is important to note that if one partner has experienced trauma, there may be some types of touch that are triggering for them.
- Rub his arm
- Kiss his cheek
- Put your arm around her
- Hold his hand
- Play footsies
- Rub his leg
- Touch her elbow
- Run your fingers through his hair
- Touch her back
- Give him a bear hug and hold on
- Run your fingers over her cheek
- Kiss his neck
- Put your arm around her waist
- Hug him from behind and put your cheek next to his
- Kiss her gently on the lips
- Squeeze his bum
- Touch your forehead to hers
- Rest your head on his shoulder
- Dance with her
- Whisper in his ear
- Sit close together
- Spoon in bed
- Give him a scalp massage
- Hold her face in your hands and stare into her eyes
- Squeeze his hand
I would recommend choosing one a day, and committing yourself to implement it into your relationship. Aiming to do one a day allows flexibility–you have complete freedom in deciding what you will do and when you will do it. As you increase your levels of affection, you will notice that it will become reciprocal–your partner will begin to do the same. It is as if you will light a match that will turn into a rolling fire.
By definition, affection means a gentle feeling of fondness or liking, which can certainly include verbal expression. Here are three ideas: First idea, challenge or schedule yourself to say, “I love you,” three times a day. Second idea, express love and adoration in public. Many couples, who have been together for a long time, eventually act like they are simply sharing groceries when in public. No! Go back to the dating days! Shower your partner with affection, both verbal physical, in private and in public. And the third idea would be to tell your partner he/she is handsome/beautiful at least once a day. Pretty doable, right?
Scheduling sex can provide needed closeness, but only if regular, loving touch is a normal part of the everyday marriage or relationship. Expressing affection to your partner is powerful and can set you on a path to both heal and strengthen your relationship. I urge you to take the time to schedule closeness today–whether that is sexually or affectionately. And if you are feeling overwhelmed or unsure about how to implement this counsel, please feel free to contact or come see me. My door is always open!
Melissa Cluff is a licensed marriage and family therapist based in Lewisville, Texas, personally seeing clients in the North Dallas area.
- Cluff Counseling: “Adding Sex to Your Agenda”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Living the Love Language of Physical Touch”
- Cluff Counseling: “Love Languages: Showing Love Through the Gift of Quality Time”
- Cluff Counseling: “Reclaiming the Bedroom, Part 1: Benefits of Sex”
- Cluff Counseling: “Reclaiming the Bedroom, Part II: Hindrances to Sex”
- Cluff Counseling: “Reclaiming the Bedroom, Part III: Communication in the Bedroom”
- Focus on the Family: “Scheduling intimacy in marriage”
- Huffington Post: “How to Schedule Sex, for Skeptics”
- Huffington Post: “Marriage And Sex: Scheduling Intimacy Can Improve Both”
- LifeHacker: “How to Schedule Sex and Still Enjoy it”
- New York Post: “How scheduling your sex life can save a marriage”
- Nurturing Marriage: “Week 3 #onesmallchange Challenge: YOUR SPOUSE NEEDS PHYSICAL AFFECTION”
- Nurturing Marriage: “Touch – A Simple Key to a Happy Marriage”
- Nurturing Marriage: “5 Ways to Give Your Wife the Affection She Craves”
- Reader’s Digest: “16 Relationship Resolutions Every Couple Should Make”
- Smalley, Gary & Trent, John: “Love is a Decision”