As an old Bruce Springsteen song says, "You can't start a fire without a spark".
If you've ever had a gas stove and the igniter stopped working, you'll know exactly what that means!
When many couples are asked about the source of their dissatisfaction with their relationship, one of the things they will say is that 'the spark has gone out of it'. Even with all the right ingredients in place, it seems as though we struggle to maintain that excitement about being together that we had when the relationship was new.
But it is possible to enjoy the spark for your entire relationship - and to even feeler stronger than you did during the honeymoon phase!
One of the keys to rekindling the spark if it's gone out, or keeping it if it hasn't, is intimate touch.
That doesn't just mean in the bedroom, it means everywhere. Holding hands when walking together, touching each other in passing in the kitchen, kissing hello and goodbye, and "just because", hugging for comfort or joy or just to be close together.
We at Metanao sometimes talk about it as 'non-sexual touch', but in a way every touch with our intimate partner can carry a sexual charge. That spark is something that thrives on positive feedback loops and repetition: the more we touch, the more we 'keep in touch', and the more we want to touch.
There's some science behind this, too: there are seven hormones in our bodies regulate our moods, arousal and feelings of attachment. They are oxytocin, testosterone, estrogen, dopamine, epinephrine (adrenaline), serotonin, and vasopressin. These hormones are triggered, in part, by being close to our partner and through touch. If you've ever felt better by being hugged by a loved one after a crappy day, you have these hormones to thank!
It's easy to have good intentions, but to just let touching drift out of our daily routines. We're often busy and sometimes stressed - and we forget that a hug only takes a moment and is great for relieving stress. We might be angry about something our partner has done or not done, and 'punish' them by withdrawing touch, but that also involves punishing ourselves, and means it takes longer for the issue to be resolved. Maybe our culture teaches us that it is not 'seemly' to display affection in public, and some people probably do go to another extreme, but touching can be discreet and affectionate without being exhibitionists!
Try this challenge: for one week, change nothing in your relationship but make a conscious effect to touch each other as many times as possible in the day. Don't say hello or goodbye without a quick kiss, place your hand on your partner's knee while driving or watching a movie, stroke their arm over dinner, hold hands while walking. Every small connection matters and can help you build a stronger, happier relationship.
If you feel like the spark is well and truely extinguished in your relationship - and you don't feel like you can even make small physical gestures, it's time to talk to an expert. Call Sue on 0439 294 532 for your FREE 15 minute consultation.