Mark: It happens at every marriage seminar we do. We lead couples through a process that increases emotional safety in their communication. At the end of that conversation we ask them to enjoy a full body hug for a minute.

Jill: After our first “talk break” they often report back, “That was awkward.” When we ask what part was awkward, they often indicate both the conversation and the 1 minute hug. (However by the end of the seminar, they are asking for more “talk breaks” and report that those become one of the best parts of the seminar!)

Mark: When did we stop hugging? Probably for us it was when there were little ones in our arms and we were just working to get everyone fed and clothed…and if we did that, it was a good day!  For whatever reason, though, most couples simply get out of the habit of loving, non-sexual touch and it’s time for us to do something about that.

Jill: A full body hug where we simply hold each other is needed now more than ever in our fast-paced-distracted-by-devices crazy lives. An extended hug, a backrub, a gentle kiss brings comfort, connection, and calm to our lives. For just a brief moment, it says, “You are the most important thing to me right now.”

Mark: I’d be the first one to admit that for many years I didn’t believe that non-sexual and touch even belonged in the same sentence. Because most of my touches were sexual in nature, Jill didn’t find touch “safe” in our relationship. Now that we’ve increased non-sexual touch, playful sexual touch is actually welcomed by both of us.

Here are some helpful strategies:

  • Ask for a long hug. Jill has been using this language to ask me for hugs. When she says, “Can I have a long hug?” it cues me that she’s looking for connection and wants more than a quick hug like I’d give my mom.
  • Relax in each other’s arms. Allow yourself to fully lean in and simply enjoy holding and connecting.
  • Focus on your spouse. You may have to intentionally mentally disconnect from whatever you were in the middle of thinking about or doing.

Jill:  Sometimes in marriage, the little things are really the big things…both positively and negatively. From the negative perspective, a lack of non-sexual touch may seem like a little thing to you, but it causes a slow fade of physical disconnection. From the positive perspective, adding back in 1-2 minutes of loving, non-sexual touch each day is really a little thing that can foster connection, decrease stress, and bring comfort to one another. That’s big in a life-long relationship.

What about you? Got a minute to spare?

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