Posted by: counselorcarmella | July 11, 2011

Talk, Time, Touch

Originally published on


When I was an undergraduate student, I took a sociology course called “Intro To Marriage and Family.” The professor teaching “Marriage and Family” was a marriage counselor)   and his wife often came in to  give the “female perspective” on  topics covered, as well. She also taught at the  same college in a different department.  They had three grown children and  grandkids  and were pretty open with us about the ups and downs in their marriage. To me,  life experience and honesty about  themselves gave them a lot of “street cred.”  Dr. McManus often said successful couples with growing relationships have three vital ingredients. Those ingredients are talk, time, and touch. Now, I am a marriage counselor myself and my own experiences working with couples has shown me that he is absolutely right.


Talk. Sure, all couples have to speak to each other, but “Pass the salt,” and “Who’s picking up   Chris from ball practice?” is not what  I mean  here. All successful couples make time   to have meaningful conversations that allow them to connect on an emotional level and stay “in tune” with one another’s thoughts, feelings, and experiences. These conversations can include laughter and warmth but are also serious, and involve honest sharing about their marriage, personal concerns and goals, children, and whatever else is important in their lives.


Additionally, successful couples communicate in ways that are productive and healthy. They use “I messages” about thoughts and feelings, don’t interrupt, and try to see things from their partner’s perspective. They make eye contact, nod, and verbally encourage their spouse to continue sharing. They ask open ended questions that begin with words like “How” and “What,” rather than questions that require a simple yes or no answer. They provide sympathetic feedback, such as, “That sounds frustrating,” or, “I’m sorry that presentation didn’t go as well as you’d hoped,” etc. They don’t rush in to try to offer solutions until invited to share feedback.


Time. Successful couples know that they have to nurture their relationship. It has to be cared for, just like children or pets need attention and care.  For this reason, successful couples make sure they plan time to spend together. They know that, if they wait for “couple time” to just naturally occur, chances are they’ll go for months without grabbing more than a few minutes together.


Couple time can involve going out for dinner and a movie as they did when they were first dating. It can also involve a shared activity, such as golf, canoeing, or volunteer work. Couple time may be fifteen minutes of talking over coffee in the morning before waking up the kids. It may be a walk together in the early evening. It may be taking a few minutes to pray together before going to bed. Whatever the activity, couple time is about spouses focusing on each other and the relationship without kids, work, or other distractions interfering.


Touch.  Touch is about sustaining connection and affection without an ulterior motive. Small exchanges of physical contact outside the bedroom  often lead to  more touching in the bedroom, however, as each person feels connected to, and comfortable with, their spouse. Touch is about small gestures of physical connection throughout the day, such as a touch on the arm, a brief hug, or reaching over to hold your spouse’s hand for a minute.  It can mean cuddling on the couch to watch TV. It can mean a shoulder massage, a kiss on the cheek, or   a foot rub.


Talk, time, and touch nurture both the friendship and the romance in a marriage. They help to promote other positives in the relationship that start with T, such as trust, togetherness, tenderness, and tolerance. Try them today.    



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