Getting Back In Touch
It was about a year ago that everything in my marriage began to change. My husband started a new job, which required that he work the overnight shift. Suddenly, we were co-existing in opposite worlds. He would return, tired from a long night at work, just as I was rising to put the coffee on. He would head off again at sunset and I would crawl into bed next to an empty, body-shaped depression where he used to be. We shared a home, but we began to lose touch with one another.
It was about a month into our new work / life configuration that I noticed we were fighting more. I spent many days angry with him; I felt reactive and untethered. And the truth is, I wasn’t totally sure why. One night I came home and started washing the dishes that had been left in the sink. As I was running the water, the heat crawled up my hand to constrict itself around my chest. The familiar sense of anger cloaked my shoulders and I felt like I was going to cry. It was then that he came up behind me and put his arms around me. Instantly, I understood. I wasn’t mad at him. I was missing him.
When we think of “intimacy” in a relationship, we often think “sex.” But I began to realize just how much intimacy requires emotional warmth and closeness. A sense of knowing and “seeing” someone. Non-sexual touch. An assurance that this person is close to you, even when they can’t be physically present.
Nurturing Non-sexual Touch
I started looking for moments of intimacy with my husband. How often did we hold hands, cuddle on the couch, and kiss each other for a moment of connection? It wasn’t often. Even when our schedules aligned and we had time together, we felt like strangers sitting on opposite sides of the room. Our separateness had led to disconnection which had created an intimacy chasm between us. We no longer took advantage of the moments that were available to us for touch and togetherness.
So, I started finding excuses to touch him. A quick peck on the cheek while he was sleeping as I left for work, taking his hand as we walked through the grocery store, draping my legs across his lap as we sat watching a movie, or tucking myself under his arm. The more we touched, the more my anger at his absence on nights I slept alone, dissolved.
I have always valued clear communication, but I hadn’t know that touch is an essential language of the heart. Touch brought new life to my marriage and deepened our connection. It stabilized us and eased the tension of a life of separateness. What’s more, I learned that touch is a conscious choice that we can make in our relationships. Taking the time for a long, slow hug, just might be the answer to long-term happiness.
About the Author: Ariel is a freelance writer from Portland, Maine where she also works in Higher Education. She is a graduate of the Master’s in Writing program at California College of the Arts and the owner/operator of the book review Instagram @acuppabooks18. Find her there for book reviews, articles and recommendations.
About the Editor: Kate is the Marketing Director for the Human Awareness Institute and co-host of May I Have This Dance, a podcast about love, intimacy, and sexuality. Find the podcast by searching for ‘May I Have This Dance‘ on iTunes, Google Podcasts, or wherever else you find your podcasts.