I bet when you were dating you could hardly keep your hands off each other. Any time you saw each other was a great opportunity for (at least) hugs and kisses. Yet, most of the couples that seek my services for marriage counseling hardly touch each other anymore. They barely look up from their games or electronic gadgets, or from their work, when the other walks in or out. How sad!
The Huffington Post reports that a researcher at the Medical University of Vienna recently pointed out that hugging someone you care about can ease stress and anxiety, lower blood pressure and even boost memory. Experts believe it all comes back to the hormone oxytocin. A simple embrace seems to increase levels of the "love hormone," which is not only linked to social bonding but also to the feeling of joy.
Call it an extended hug -- cuddling also releases stress-easing oxytocin, which can reduce blood pressure and bond you with your mate. But you may not have guessed that a little cuddle time can help you and your partner communicate better. Non-verbal communication can be a very powerful way to say to your partner “I get you. I know how you feel.”
Of course, kissing has also been shown to affect oxytocin and cortisol levels and just like hugging and cuddling, can reduce stress and produce bonding. Have you noticed how hard it is to continue being mad if you are kissing?
In addition to relaxing you and burning some calories, some time between the sheets can help you fight off germs (Hello, flu protection!). As long as your partner isn't already sick, a couple of sexy escapades a week can boost a particular antibody that fights off colds, according to a 1999 study. Sex may also promote better sleep, thanks to both, the relaxing effects of that oxytocin and an increase in a hormone called prolactin, which is normally higher during sleep.
You see, hugs, kisses, and more are not only good for your health but are vital for increasing your joy. One of my standard “prescriptions” for couples in distress is to make it a point to hug, kiss, and cuddle at least in the morning, as homecoming, and before going to sleep. Better yet, make sure you have at least 5 moments of joyful bonding contact.
Your turn: Today, make sure you share at least 5 moments of joyful bonding contact. You will see the difference!