Why scheduling touch time is essential during the pandemic.

During the 70’s the Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu mandated that his country start a baby boom. Ceasecu wanted to breed workers and soldiers by the millions. He banned birth control and dictated that women essentially stay pregnant. He set up state run orphanages for women to leave their extra babies. The children were changed and fed on a schedule. Despite having their basic needs taken care many of the children in Romania’s institutions started to die. They needed touch and human interaction. The American Psychological article summarizes the immediate and lasting effects of neglect (and article that’s hard to read for the disturbing child abuse stories) talk about the long term and real impact of not getting touched.
My favourite neuropsychology profesor Dr. Stan Tatkin has a great book about attachment called Wired for Love. It basically talks about how our partners can heal each other from childhood scars.  One of the most significant parts about secure attachment is about how couples can touch each other. Stan Tatkin talks often about reciprocity. Meaning there is a sharing or equality.
“Secure-functioning relationships are based on fairness, justice, and sensitivity for one another. If one partner holds all the power in a relationship, it will be difficult for the other to feel safe and secure.”
At a time when we are all stuck inside with a blistering case of cabin fever fairness and kindness is more important than ever.  I try to cope by dancing on the balcony (I’m usually dressed), getting out for a walk and counting the days when I can get to the store. I also spend some mindful time touching my partner. We actually schedule touch time during a pandemic when our schedules are much more fluid than they have ever been during our life together.  It helps if we want to choke each other and brings us closer.  It also helps push away the mosquito bites of being cramped together in close quarters. Another Stan Tatkin idiom is that we are far more likely to remember the negative emotions we feel than the positive. Touch helps erase and minimize those negative emotions.
“Our memory system is calibrated in such a way as to pick up negative experiences more than positive experiences. So, we’re more likely to remember when someone hurts our feelings than when someone does something nice for us.
Next time you find yourself fixating on everything your partner does that is hurtful, remind yourself of that.”  And let’s try touch. Anything important in my life I try and schedule. So try scheduling touch. Before you really want to strange each other. You may find this time of quarantine actually bring you closer than ever.