Taggart men are good huggers. I noticed it the first time I met my husband’s dad. He had come to his son’s high school graduation and since Gary and I had been dating for a couple of years at that point, I scored a big hug. Now coming from a family that hugged as well, you would think my Dad-in-law’s hug would go almost unnoticed but it was especially warm and heart-felt. I noticed.
Touch has a way of letting us know if we are wanted and valued. It has a way of calming our anxiety and reducing our defenses. It says we are loved. If you’ve nursed a baby, you know the feeling of serenity that comes as you share that time of intimate closeness with your infant. Your baby is calmed. You are calmed. From the time we are born, we are made for physical touch.
When we don’t receive much touch as a child, we often struggle with feelings of inadequacy, unsure of secure love. Sometimes physical closeness is a challenge. Studies of Romanian orphans have confirmed that the absence of touch, the lack of being held as an infant, has lifelong implications for a child’s development and sense of well-being in the world. Learning to receive touch, though initially uncomfortable, can bring healing to those childhood wounds.
Marriage is a wonderful opportunity to learn to receive and offer touch. Holding hands, kissing, hugging, enjoying sexual intimacy keep a marriage connected and provide those touches that can soothe our stresses. As God designed our bodies, when we experience touch or have sexual intercourse, oxytocin, the “loyal, bonding hormone” is naturally emitted which causes us to feel more relaxed and emotionally close. Touch has reciprocal benefits; both the giver and the receiver benefit.
How do you experience touch? Are you okay with asking for a needed hug? How did childhood experiences influence your comfort with touch? If you have discomfort with touch, what is one small way you can stretch yourself to give or receive touch? As married couples, practicing touch frequently can bring a greater sense of closeness.
Here’s a few ways you can enjoy the benefits of touch and reduce stress:
- Kiss each other for 10 seconds once daily
- Hold each other while watching TV
- Give each other a 10 minute massage
- Soap each other up in the shower
- Hold hands while taking a walk
- Give each other a hug and kiss when departing in the morning and reuniting at night
Choose several each week and notice your reduction in stress and closeness to one another!
Let us know how it goes!