Hugs=Happier Marriage

by Mark Gungor

A recent poll of 4,000 couples found that those spouses who described themselves as “very happy” tended to hug one another at least four times a day. Science has found many direct correlations between human touch and physical health…and I’m not even talking about actual sexual intercourse!  Just holding hands, hugs, a pat on the back, a hand on the arm or other touches like this have a great impact on our mental wellness, our health and the state of our relationships.

Studies have shown that people who don’t have physical touch don’t fair as well. Single people, who generally don’t get as much physical touch have more health problems, and babies in ICUs and people with chronic health conditions who get touched more heal faster and fair better.  We are not designed to be people who are never touched or held. We really do need to have it. See the following article on the connection between touch and the release of oxytocin.

After I heard about this survey, my wife and I started trying to be aware of this. We thought that surely it was a “no brainer”, but were startled to find that sometimes we would get through the whole day, be in bed at night and realize that we’d hugged only two or three times—even when we were trying to be intentional about it! It’s not as easy as one would think.

Sadly, in a lot of marriages people don’t get much physical touch at all. How many men left the house and didn’t kiss or hug their wives this morning? How many wives probably won’t hug or kiss him when they come home, or when they go to bed? In many marriages there is little to no physical touch.

Now even if it’s not specifically hugging, you can certainly up the amount of touch in your marriage. I challenge you to try this. When you are watching TV actually sit on the same sofa instead of across the room from one another!  Then hold hands, lean into one another, rest your hand on your spouse’s leg. If you are walking into the store, grab her hand, or if you are driving somewhere, give his knee a squeeze. This works great with your children too, by the way!  Kids need to have the physical nurturing all the while they are growing up.

And you can always try what Deb and I did, intentionally go after the four hugs (or more) per day! It’s a simple thing you can do to improve your health and well being, and your marriage too!

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    11 Responses to “Hugs=Happier Marriage”

    1. Rhonda wrote:

      Love the main article & the other article you can click on about the connection between touch & the release of oxytocin. I’ve also heard ppl like Gary Smalley or Gary Chapman-can’t remember which that said it affects women’s health in a negative way if they’re husbands don’t touch them. Any suggestions on how to get a non-toucher to become more of a toucher? I know you can’t change their God given traits-only He can, but if it’ll help his wife’s health, it’s worth a shot to ask for suggestions. Thanks.

      • Bex wrote:

        If hes like most guys tell him the more he touches his wife in none sexual ways the more she’ll be open to having sex with him!
        One of my husbands top love languages is physical touch and my least is physical touch! But being only a year into marriage we still have a lot of physical touch – holding hands/arm in arm, sitting beside each other on the couch, hugs, etc. I hope that withball the chaos of life that we dont lose that over the years.
        And I must say that after reading this I want to go home and give my husband a nice massage and get one in return =).

      • the one whom God loves wrote:

        I answer this in the most sincere way… give him lots of S . E . X. Blush blush. As I’m sure Mark Gungor teaches, you have to get what you need too, so be the instigator of non-sexual hugs, sitting together, touching, holding hands etc and hopefully he will pick up on it someday. If not, as Jesus says, continue in the good work, do not despise small beginnings, and what you sow you will reap. Some things take a lot of building and won’t happen over-night. I know, I’ve been married for 14 years. Always remember to accept the person as he is, and WE WOMEN CAN NOT CHANGE MEN! They have to make their own mind up about that. But we can work with them, and don’t get spiteful if we have to instigate the thing we need, just work with it. Good luck :)

    2. Nancy Cobb wrote:

      I love your dvds and have even used them with my senior adult Sunday school class when we studied marriage last year.
      I would like for you to please address “retired husband symdrum.”
      My husband is retired as am I and he wants to do almost nothing.
      but sit. He used to fish and hunt, but is not more interested. I think he stays in his “nothing box” quite frequently until I start to do something and has many of my friends also say they want to tell you how to do it. I have to leave home to have time for me by myself. In our small town there is not a mall or book store,etc. Walmart and lunch at a local restaurant is the most one can do to get away from home without going to Raleigh or Richmond. These men want dinner on the table and the house clean. They just don’t get it. Also when health problems or age related things take sex out of the picture it seems that cuddling and other things also go out the window. He is driving me crazy. I have even heard that Japanese women are committing hari kari. Help, we need some help and good advice.

      Trying to get my husband to even look at your dvd’s doesn’t help.

      • the one whom God loves wrote:

        Try ignoring him. I’m not saying I’m right, it’s just a suggestion. I feel like you should join clubs, or have your own hobbies that you get involved in and just go out and enjoy life! Do it for YOU! If there’s nothing going in your small town, start something! Don’t do it in spite of him, just do it for your own sanity and happiness. And I think eventually he will get jealous of your time spent elsewhere and realise he better wise-up and be more exciting for you to be around him more!… get the picture??? If you have a pro-active solution, I think it will help spice things up. But don’t forget to “meet his manly needs” so he knows he’s still number 1, but show him that your happiness (or lack thereof) is not dependant on him!

    3. Milly wasige wrote:

      I have greatly inspired by your post that hugs=happier marriage.I think we should say hugs= happier marriage and children.I give a hug to my two boys everytime i go home.They enjoy it so much and its something i always forward to recieve when i arrive.

    4. the one whom God loves wrote:

      I agree. I have been in a barely there marriage, to a vast improvement marriage! Physical touch is a vital element that God has instigated (especially in a man) to ensure that couples experience intimacy together at a deep level. Of course the man is more interested in touch that leads to going all the way, but a woman can help develop those love touches that need to be there throughout the day. I can tell you from experience that when there is no intimacy, there’s basically no relationship. But if you can keep that intimacy flame alight 24/7, (sometimes it requires a commitment to God to do what it takes to get the right result) and in some cases ask God to give you the “strength”, it becomes a win-win situation.

    5. Mike Pickles wrote:

      Hi, my name is Mike Pickles. I am a Canadian teacher of 18 years. I absolutely love my career and the difference that I make in my student’s lives. It is truly incredible and I feel so blessed and grateful.

      Recently I was published in a book called “Hug Someone You Love Today, And How to Leave Your Personal Signature”. It’s a collection of stories about how a hug can positively change one’s life. Its an empowering and life-changing book that everyone should read.

      My publisher has asked me to produce a second hug book and I would love to have the opportunity to share one of your inspirational stories in my next book.

      Thank you,
      Mike Pickles
      Author of “Hug Someone You Love Today”
      mike_sabbie@yahoo.ca

    6. Diana Daffner, Intimacy Retreats wrote:

      Absolutely, yes, right on! My fortune cookie last night contained the message “Hugs are the rainbows of life.”

    7. Nalliah Thayabharan wrote:

      Hugging and laughter are extremely effective at healing sickness, disease, loneliness, depression, anxiety and stress, but healthy and wholesome habits of hugging and laughter are endangered by the bustle of modern life. The more typical ways of greeting people like handshakes are designed to keep us apart rather than bring us together. Hugging is very similar to meditation and laughter, teaches to let go and be present in the moment. Hugging encourages to flow with the energy of life. Hugging helps to get out of circular thinking patterns and connect with the heart, feelings and the breath. Reaching out and hugging releases Endorphins and serotonin into the blood vessels and the released Endorphins and serotonin cause pleasure and negate pain and sadness, lower blood pressure, decrease the chances of getting heart problems, helps fight excess weight and prolongs life. Even the cuddling of pets has a soothing effect that reduces the stress levels. But teddy bears, whose use has been increasing in the recent decades, are a poor substitute for the real hugging. The nurturing touch of hugging will make us healthier, younger, thinner, more relaxed, live longer, fight depression and make us age slower. A proper deep hug, where the hearts are pressing together not only improves both psychological and physical development, but also helps to build a good immune system, decrease the risk of heart disease, and decrease levels of the stress hormone cortisol in women. Hugging instantly boost the pair bonding hormone neurotransmitter oxytocin levels which stimulates and sharpens the senses, contributes to our sense of connectedness, causes to feel calm and happier; and heal loneliness, isolation, and anger. During lactation huge amounts of oxytocin are released from the brain to the breast tissue allowing milk to flow. Breastfeeding mothers have lower blood pressure. Oxytocin receptors have in other tissues, including the heart, kidney, thymus, and pancreas. Oxytocin plays a powerful role in protecting heart. By touching another person, oxytocin is produced in heart and travels throughout blood stream dilating them through a mechanism of increased nitric oxide leading to a decrease in blood pressure, less inflammation and less plaque build-up. Excess chronic inflammation is the key player in plaque buildup in arteries, known as atherosclerosis. Oxytocin reduces free radical formation and other inflammatory markers decreasing the risk for heart attack. Hugging strengthen the immune system. Love is a miracle drug. Hugging teaches us how to give and receive. There is equal value in receiving and being receptive to warmth, as to giving and sharing. Hugging educates how love flows both ways. The gentle pressure on the sternum and the emotional charge this creates activates the Solar Plexus Chakra. This stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, which keep you healthy and disease free. Hugging for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and creating happiness. A couple who hugs for 20 seconds has higher levels of oxytocin, and that those who were in a loving relationship exhibited a highest increase. 15 minutes of holding hands with a romantic partner can help reduce stress, and its harmful physical effects. Adults who have no contact with people had higher blood pressure and heart rate. Hugging therapy is definitely a powerful way of healing. The energy exchange between the two people hugging is an investment in the relationship. Hugging encourages empathy and understanding. Hugging is synergistic, which means the whole is more than the sum of its parts. This synergy results in win-win outcomes. Hugging also builds trust and a sense of safety, helps with open and honest communication and boosts self-esteem. In the mother’s womb, each part of the fetus’ body is touched by the amniotic fluid, which is the origin of the yearning for touch. Holding a baby offers physiological and emotional benefits. The tactile sense is very important in infants. During our early childhood our family’s touch showed us that we’re loved and special. The associations of self-worth and tactile sensations from our early years are still imbedded in our nervous system as adults. The cuddles we received from our parents, grandparents and relatives while growing up remain imprinted at a cellular level, and hugs remind us at a somatic level of that and connects us to our ability to self love. Hug relaxes muscles; releases tension in the body, take away pain and soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues. Hugging helps to stretch the facial muscles, erase age lines and slow the aging process. Hugs balances out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the nervous system – parasympathetic.
      - Nalliah Thayabharan

     
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