Couples who have frequent physical contact are generally happier than those who don’t. Touch is a powerful way of communicating love, care and empathy. Embracing helps us to connect to ourselves and is a potent way of getting in touch with our loved one. A hug is a great way to start the day, and a delightful way of switching back into connection when we return to each other.
People often tell me they don’t hug, because they don’t feel like hugging. If you’re waiting for the right feeling, you may be waiting a long time. Just do it, and notice how the feelings soon follow.
Embracing and being embraced does many things to our system, it takes us out of our heads and into our bodies –if we allow it, so give it time. Being in close physical contact allows us to really feel our partner, to know their body, their heartbeat, their smell, their breathing. It’s a powerful human need that we know in our cells from the moment we are born. Being held reminds us we are safe, we are loved and we are valued. It’s a basic human need. It can also be a subtle minefield for some.
In Dr David Schnarch’s superb book, Intimacy & Desire, he has a simple and rather wonderful exercise called Hugging Till Relaxed.
This is all you do:
- Stand on your own two feet
- Put your arms around your partner
- Focus on yourself
- Quieten yourself down.
There can be a great deal going on with this simple process. Allowing your partner to hold you, and holding your partner, triggers issues for most couples. It involves relaxing your body and mind by focusing on your body while you’re in broad physical contact. Getting physically comfortable may take a while –keeping your balance, feeling grounded, not leaning or being leant upon, releasing held tension, being comfortable, breathing normally all take a while to get right. You may need to release each other and reconnect, and speak quietly to get comfortable.
The idea is to keep hugging till you both let go inside, and relax. And then stay hugging to enjoy it a bit longer if you like. But it may take several times before you can really relax. Just keep on practicing it. This exercise can take anything from 5 – 20 minutes.
Hugging till relaxed highlights how connection with your partner requires a solid connection with yourself. We can’t avoid this inherent paradox; when you’re alienated from your own experience, you have no basis to feel or connect with your spouse. You have to go inward first to make a connection with yourself. It is a tangible way to teach yourselves to stand on your own feet, physically and emotionally, while you’re also close to your partner.
As with sex, you can do hugging till relaxed at different depths of involvement. You can go through the motions superficially –and for some, this is an important first step. You can reach a stage where you centre yourself effortlessly. You stop focussing on your partner; you stop wondering what he’s thinking or worrying if he’s having a bad time. You do more than contain yourself, you quiet yourself to a profound calm.
Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find all the barriers
within yourself that you have built against it.
― Jalal Ad-din Rumi