We are born – we are touched. Newborns thrive on the handling and loving care that is doled out generously in the delivery room. Science now knows the vital importance of getting the baby into connection ASAP. My first child was whisked away shortly after birth to “put her under the lights” to care for the slight jaundice that she experienced. I learned that she was alone in the incubator while she was receiving the phototherapy. Now, this treatment has special considerations with it – frequent holding, singing and touching the child while the child is being treated. The sense of smell and touch are essential and primary to infants and are our earliest perceptions of the world. Is the world safe and secure? This is the first step to love. As adults, a happy love relationship is shown to be indicated as most important for a satisfying life. We fall in love, we touch and desire to be touched in however our love language desires. For many couples, this manifests in hand holding, caressing, cuddling, sexual and non-sexual touches. Our attention is riveted on each other thanks to the ancient code of mother nature, and our needs are met. Love is alive in our minds and our bodies. Fast forward a few years, a child or two, a few of life’s stressful events and perception may be transmuted to frustration and disillusionment. The riveted attention on our partner is now distracted and busy. Physical affection and touch often has been put on that proverbial back burner. As a marriage therapist, there are many reasons couples seek help for their relationship and by this time, the emotional pain level is smoldering or on fire. Sometimes they blame each other, blame themselves or blame the world. There is no shortage of blame…the blame game…find the bad guy. Someone needs to change as they rivet their gaze on the other. Communication not put aside, there should be a new rule and put somewhere on the papers couples sign to get married and that is Have a Massage Table in the Bedroom and Use Regularly. This is the communication of the body and the mind and when combined create a powerful love bond between two people.
The bonding stage of relationship can be the most powerful and fulfilling but it needs attention and some skill. These skills are easy to learn, and if practiced will lead to mastery and a sense of well being in your relationship. With touch, the hormone of oxytocin is stimulated. This is the hormone we often hear about after a woman gives birth to a baby – the “feel good” hormone that allows her extra feelings of warmth and connection to her infant. Oxytocin restores the balance between stress and calm and plays a role in stimulating muscle activity of orgasm in both sexes which strengthens the emotional bond. In the context of a love relationship, both sexual and non-sexual touching can increase this hormone and the attachment bond of the relationship. The massage itself doesn’t have to anything fancy. Listening to your partner is the key: what body parts are wanting to be touched more than others, the pressure of the touch. Communicating the thoughts/emotions of this experience during the massage can sometimes be a bonding experience of itself. The body has a story to tell. Most people are disconnected from these sensations and it can wake this part of yourself up. This takes some courage and, like after a workout, you feel better after you do it. The body has a mind of its own so any way you can cue into yourself the better it is for your relationship. If, for some reason, your body reacts negatively to touch, getting to the body’s understanding of this reaction is empowering because there are some conditions – both psychological and physiological that cause these reactions. Understanding and being creative in alternative ways to fill these emotional needs can prevents future problems with a partner. The best stress management strategy is in the process of establishing and building a positive and trusting relationship. Touch is a vital part of that strategy and good strategies need an action plan. The investment is small; the table folds up for storage and you can put a reminder on each other’s phones for your next massage session. Blending touch with smell can enhance this experience and your brain. I often suggest specific essential oils that are known for their calming or energizing benefits depending on the desires of the couple. It is fun to experiment on each other. This is one of my favorite parts: customizing the aroma of the day. Find a way to practice, believe in your relationship, and have fun.
A resource link to learn about essential oils is: http://bit.ly/NkoTV0