Touch can be a wonderful bridge to sexuality, if it is explored for the pleasure and comfort it can bring without going further. Breathing together can also open doors. Often I suggest couples do a short, 2- to 5-minute set of hand-holding/touch exercises in the office. This allows the couple to practice something that is surprisingly easy to begin to build safety and comfort—and often humor as well. I would like to share this set of exercises for those who are interested. You are welcome to use and adjust any of the following exercises. They work beautifully in an EFT frame.
Have one partner put out his or her hand. The other person takes the hand in a gentle hold, like a nest. Have them take a few deep breaths together. Invite them to feel the touch of their partner's hand. Invite the partner who created the “nest” to feel the edges where his or her hands meet.
You can offer suggestions to the couple, such as:
• “Notice where your body feels warm and where it feels cold.
• “Notice any sensations.”
• “Notice if you feel tingles or tickles or spaciousness.”
Then have them both open their eyes and check in and say how the exercise felt to them. Ask them to share their favorite moment.
Then have them switch roles: The person who was creating the nest with their hands is now the one to put their hand into the nest.
Go through the same exercise, leading the couple slowly into awareness of giving touch and receiving touch. You can say, “Can you let your partner know you that you are receiving their touch and that you like it?" You can even invite them to say “Mmmmm" to express their pleasure. If the receiver makes a sound of pleasure, the other person's nervous system can relax. They may think, “Ha! Finally I did something right!”
I have led many couples through this gentle exercise to a feeling of safety, stepping out of shame and into pleasure in the session. It is so important to do a lot of counter-shaming here. Tell them: “It's okay to feel pleasure. It’s okay to make sounds so your partner knows how you feel.”
The second exercise involves one partner asking the other for the kind of touch they want.
Again, one person receives, one person touches. Have the person touching first ask their partner: “Do you want light, gentle touch or deep massage touch on your hand?" The partner chooses what they want, and their partner touches them in that way. If the person being touched likes the sensation, invite them to make a sound so their partner knows. Then have them switch and have the other person ask for the kind of touch they want. The partner touches them in that way.
After five minutes have them feel and sense deeply and notice any sensations. Then ask them to open their eyes and take turns telling their partner what their favorite moment was.