We've arrived at that point in the year when a lot of folks start searching frantically for the perfect holiday gift for a significant other. All too often, many of us find that we put a lot time, effort, and money into a gift that is quickly forgotten and brings only temporary happiness. You might be able to avoid that outcome this year--and potentially improve your relationship at the same time--by instead giving your partner a gift that promotes touch and intimacy.
As I have previously written, touch is one of the keys to a happy and healthy long-term relationship. Unfortunately, many couples find that, over time, they don't touch each other nearly as much as they used to. This can have the effect of making you feel more distant from your partner both physically and psychologically, which can potentially contribute to relationship problems. However, adding more touch back into your love life can not only help resolve these issues, but prevent future problems from arising.
So what can you do if you if you want to introduce a little more touch into your love life? I have two suggestions for you, both of which also happen to make perfect holiday gifts!
One is a new smartphone app called Pillow Play. This app offers a series of exercises that you and your partner will practice together for 10-20 minutes per day over a one-month period. These exercises are designed to get both of you to stop focusing on your phones at opposite ends of the couch and to instead spend some quality time together. The activities vary from one day to the next, but many build off of the principles of sensate focus, a couple’s exercise developed by Masters and Johnson that involves promoting relaxation and building communication skills through non-sexual touch .
To be clear, this app isn't something that's only worthwhile for couples who are going through a rough patch--it can also benefit couples who are perfectly happy but just want to try something new. Check it out and learn more here. As a special thanks to readers of Sex & Psychology, you can receive a 25% discount on PillowPlay by using this discount code: sexandxmas (valid through December 25, 2016).
Alternatively (or in addition), my other recommendation is to offer your partner a massage—but not the kind where you make an appointment at the spa. I’m talking about a massage that you give with your own hands.
Of course, a lot of people don’t know how to give good massages. Perhaps you've had the experience where someone presses too hard or in the wrong area? That's no fun. Massages are supposed to be relaxing, not irritating--and that's why I recommend learning some massage techniques before you begin. Your partner will thank you.
For a crash course in massaging, I recommend Melt: Massage for Couples, a three-part video series designed for couples to learn at home and practice over a sequence of date nights. The video segments are short, informative, and tastefully done, with the techniques taught by Australian massage therapist Denis Merkas. The techniques covered are easy to learn and are intended to make sure you hit the right spots.
One of the things I like about Melt is that, just like Pillow Play, it builds on a lot of the fundamentals of sensate focus: setting aside some quality time to concentrate only on each other, replacing feelings of stress and anxiety with relaxation through mutual touch, and communicating with your partner about what feels good.
To be clear, this isn't an erotic massage program. The Melt videos are definitely rated PG; however, you just might find that the resulting relaxation and increased physical intimacy have the potential to spark sexual desire.
If you’re interested in learning more about the Melt video series, check it out here. For a limited time (through December 25, 2016), readers of Sex & Psychology who purchase this video series will receive a bonus video offering instruction in the art of giving a good foot rub.
Happy holiday shopping!
Want to learn more about Sex and Psychology ? Click here for previous articles or follow the blog on Facebook (facebook.com/psychologyofsex), Twitter (@JustinLehmiller), or Reddit (reddit.com/r/psychologyofsex) to receive updates.
 Masters, W., & Johnson, V. (1970). Human sexual inadequacy. Boston: Little, Brown.
Image Credits: Pillow Play; Denis Merkas
You Might Also Like: