One thing I’ve noticed while working with couples is how little face-to-face time they actually spend together.
We all know the drill … you get home from work and barely have time to acknowledge each other before one of you has to start dinner and the other leaves to pick up kids from soccer.
From there, the race is on …
Back home … quick dinner … supervise homework … run herd over baths and story time … finally get the kids to bed and then …
You fall into each other’s arms, overjoyed to be together.
Yeah, not so much, right?
Instead, most of us each get on our respective devices … she cruises Facebook, he spends an hour or two surfing blogs and YouTube.
And then we fall into bed exhausted, only to wake up and do it all over again the next day. A whole day gone with no connection of any kind.
Not Enough Oxytocin
The problem with all this is that people need touch and eye contact in order to feel connected. When you touch your wife and look deeply into her eyes, your bodies produce oxytocin, the hormone responsible for producing feelings of warmth and closeness. Oxytocin helps you stay calmer during fights, have more empathy, and forgive more easily.
Oxytocin is vital to the attachment/bonding arm of the three love systems. Without it, we simply don’t feel love and tenderness for our partner. Just like your body can’t survive without oxygen, your marriage can’t survive without oxytocin.
If you’re feeling this lack of connection in your marriage, it’s a pretty good guess that you’re experiencing oxytocin deprivation.
So, what’s the cure?
You can get good results with one simple action …
Take 15 minutes each night to light a few candles in your bedroom and just spend time together.
It sounds ridiculously easy, doesn’t it? But it has a big impact.
You know how spending time outside in front of a bonfire relaxes people and opens them up? Candle Time does the same thing.
- Candlelight relaxes and soothes you.
- Touching produces oxytocin between the two of you and increases feelings of warmth and tenderness.
- Isolating yourself with your wife paves the way to increased intimacy.
- A scheduled break provides a hard stop to electronics use, and gives a reason to spend time together.
- Eliminating distractions takes you out of the chaos of everyday life and forces your brains to slow down.
How to Get Started
- Buy real candles, not electronic ones. Candlelight promotes relaxation because it doesn’t have the stimulating effect on your brain that electronic light does.
- You need to touch. It can be as simple as just touching her hand, or putting your hand on her hip. If the two of you are extremely disconnected, that may be as far as you can go right now. Gradually, as you become more intimate with your wife again, you’ll escalate the touch.
- Make eye contact. It will probably seem strange at first, and you can start small, but you need to look directly into her eyes. Lovers do this all the time, but not so with most married couples. You need to start looking at your wife again.
- Avoid heavy conversation. No talking about kids, finances, or jobs. Those conversations are important, but this isn’t the place or the time. You need an oasis of peace in a noisy world. Light conversation is okay. “I love the way the candlelight shines on your hair. Your skin looks so smooth/feels so soft. I’ve thought about doing this all day, etc.”
- Steer clear of initiating sex. You want this time to be one of complete relaxation without you having to stress over whether/how/when to initiate and without her stressing about whether/how/when you’re going to initiate.
- Pick your time wisely. It needs to be after the kids are in bed, but before the two of you completely shut down from exhaustion. Make it the same time each night; you want this to become somewhat of a ritual. CandleTime can be short, but needs to be consistent. It doesn’t have to be at bedtime, but can be sandwiched into any available time slot. Bedtime is ideal, as CandleTime promotes relaxation and sleep, but not necessary.
- Don’t take it personally if she’s not enthusiastic at first. If your marriage has been oxytocin-deprived for a while, she may be hesitant when you initially bring it up, or she may think it’s simply a bid for more sex. Bring her along gradually; I’ve seen this habit work real magic. Eventually, the day won’t seem complete until you have this time together.
- If your bedroom is typically cold, provide sources of warmth. Women tend to stay colder than men do, and if she’s cold, she can’t relax. You can crank the heat up, put a throw on the bed, or wait until right after her bath or shower. You’re going to get your best results when she’s warm.
Okay, that’s it. Nothing big or dramatic. But the results can be substantial. Give it a try and let me know how it goes.