When we are with our grandchildren and doing some sightseeing, Rita tells the kids to be aware of the things they experience with their senses. She reminds them to look up and down as well as side to side and enjoy the things they can see, to be aware of the sounds and smells around them, to note the taste of their food and even to be very aware of the textures of things they touch. Of course, the teacher in her tells the kids that there will be a quiz at the end of the day. It is interesting to hear them describe what they have experienced through their senses.
Recently, it occurred to me that our senses are very important to our experience of each other and the quality of our relationship. As we have thought about and had numerous conversations about this we have become aware of some of the ways that each of our senses is important to us. We find ourselves aware of it more of the time.
Sometimes Rita gets out of the shower and asks me to rub lotion on her back, in the areas she can’t reach. I enjoy touching her and sometimes extend the application to areas she can reach. I also like the smell of her lotion and am reminded of the activity hours later when the aroma of her lotion lingers on my hands.
The aroma of a pie baking, especially rhubarb or lemon, is always a reminder of her as I anticipate sharing the dessert.
When we exercise together, even the odor of sweat (mostly mine) and the sight of the drops glistening on our skin is a reminder of good times.
When we were first dating Bob wore English Leather after shave. While he doesn’t wear it anymore and I enjoy his new fragrances, English Leather still brings special memories when I smell it.
I especially enjoy it when Bob takes a shower and crawls into bed with me. It is a combination of the soap, the lotion he uses and just “his” smell.
One time when we were dating, Bob stopped along the road and picked wild roses for me. My engagement ring came in a dozen roses. He has grown roses for me and continues to gift me with roses from time to time. The smell of roses is sensual to me and floods me with memories and creates new ones.
Of course when he has come in from working outside in the summer or riding his bike he doesn’t smell like roses but even then he has a unique smell and is something that is also part of our relationship. Sometimes I just tell him he needs to take a shower.
Touch can be wonderful, when intended and sometimes when unintended. Rita’s caresses when we make love are heavenly, but there are many other times when touch is important. When I snuggle up behind her in bed and her soft hair tickles my nose, it reminds me how much I love her. I like holding Rita’s hand when we walk somewhere together and when we join hands to pray. One thing that is very special to me is that she comes up behind me when I am sitting at my desk and kisses me on the top of my head. That touch lingers, even after she has left the room.
My maiden name is Fiely and I have often joked that I am touchy feely. In our relationship touch is vital. We hold hands when we say grace and the Lord’s Prayer at Mass and any time we just feel the urge to do so. It could be when we take a walk, are shopping, or waiting in line or if Bob is in an animate conversation and I think he might offend someone. (Sometimes that is more than a “touch” – I might call it a “firm squeeze”.)
Kisses bring their own touch especially as I think about the various ways Bob kisses me. Sometimes it is a quick peck as he passes me, especially if he is busy and on his way out the door. Others are soft and sensual and of course at times quite amorous.
Just touching his skin or the clothes he is wearing brings different responses to me especially as I enjoy the different textures.
Touches and hugs play a special role in our relationship. On our honeymoon we promised to always fall asleep holding hands. While sometimes I am asleep before Bob I always sense him touching me as he falls asleep. It is wonderful to be touchy feely.
While we often joke that we both have two left feet there is something about the way Bob holds me when we dance and I can snuggle close to him.
It is obvious that we often see and hear each other in conversation, but there are other times that are also important to me. Sometimes I wake up at night and can’t hear Rita breathing. Then I listen very closely until she moves or makes a sound and I am reassured that she is OK. When she has nightmares I try to understand what she is saying and wonder whether to wake her.
When she is writing downstairs and I am upstairs I can hear the clicking of her computer keys and it makes me smile to think about her or encourages me to take a little break and stand at the railing for a short conversation.
Rita can get a very mischievous look on her face and start to giggle in a way that she does not do very often. When I see the look and hear the giggle I know that something good (and often slightly wicked) is about to come out of her mouth and I can’t wait to see what it is.
Early in our dating I realized that Bob had a special look in his eyes that was only meant for me. Through the years I continue to see that, especially if we are in a crowd and across the room from each other. His eyes reveal a lot to me. I can tell if he is angry with me and can easily see hurt in his eyes. Tears in his eyes tell me a lot. As he has aged the teddy bear in him has come out more and more and I see those tears as he shares his passion for what he is doing, holds a grandchild or speaks of me to others.
I also see his cute little buns especially when he has on his biking shorts. I love to see the blue of his eyes intensify especially when he wears something bright blue. He has a particular way of setting his mouth when he does anything that requires effort. While Samson got his strength from his hair I often joke that he gets his strength from the set of his mouth.
Bob does not have a poker face. It is easy to read. I can tell if he is preoccupied, angry, bored, happy or amorous. He has a wonderful face that is uniquely his.
I hear a lot by just observing Bob. He is intense about everything he does. I have joked that there is no such thing as a stroll with him. He always has a place in mind and wants to get there. Recently, I have added to that is that there is never a casual conversation with him. His voice is filled with passion when he speaks weather it is in a political or religious argument or if he is telling a joke.
Maybe it was being home for several years when he first retired but he talks to himself, makes “humphing” sounds when he is working or when listening, he pauses for a minute and then says “oh” when something makes sense to him. There is glee in his voice when he discovers something new or he accomplishes something he set out to do. He speaks louder to me when he is angry and soft when he shows how much he cares.
Taste can also add to a relationship. When Rita is drinking a margarita, I like to kiss her and enjoy the taste of salt on her lips. I have to admit that I have never really liked the taste or feel of lipstick, but that doesn’t stop me from kissing her. Besides, I like the way she looks when she is dressed up and her makeup is part of that.
While we may not always associate tastes with relationships they do have a place. We taste each other more than we think. I have always known that Bob doesn’t like lipstick so when I have it on and kiss him I make sure to leave a little on his lips. Of course he has his own tastes as well; the taste of coffee, bourbon, wine and anything else he drinks. His perspiration has a salty taste as does his body when we make love. Since he retired he cooks and I enjoy the tastes of the various things he makes and savor the things he makes especially for me.
While we are not Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks and don’t quite have their reaction to food, we love sharing a dessert and relishing the various tastes and I always leave the last bite for him.
While we hinted at our sexual relationship in the above, it has its own set of sights, touches, sounds, tastes, smells and feels. We separated the various senses but as I wrote I was aware of how they are all intertwined. We have from time to time talked about what we experience in our relationship with our senses. It has been interesting and fun to actually put it into words.
While we have mostly focused on the senses in our more intimate interactions, we also share an appreciation of things outside of us through our senses. We have enjoyed together the view of Rome from the top of the dome of St. Peters, the beauty of art in great museums and the ice on the trees in our back yard after a storm. The sounds of various kinds of music as we drive in the car and joke about how we are glad we left the farm as we drive through the countryside, but talk about our appreciation for having grown up there. The sense of touch is there too, in the feel of tiles or furniture when we are shopping or fabrics when we are shopping for clothes together. There is nothing like tasting each others ice cream, especially gelato in Rome.
We encourage you to take some time to think about how you experience the senses in your relationship and to have ongoing conversations about it. It can be fun, and sometimes very intimate.
Please share with us how your senses play a part in your marriage. Leave a comment below.
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