Touch a crucial element for creating, strengthening romantic relationships
Why is my husband so much more touchy-feely and physical than I am? Is it just because men are from Mars and women are from Venus?
John Grey did have some valid points when he talked about differences in the sexes in his book “Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus,” which can explain why your husband may be more prone to being the more affectionate one.
However, there may be other factors involved as well.
When I work with couples, I enjoy teaching them about the ways that they feel most bonded and loved from their partners. There are a few specific ways that we each feel loved, and they are different for us all, but one of those ways is through positive physical touch.
Touch is the first sense that humans develop and is the primary means of providing love to a baby. So we learn early on in our lives the value of touch to our emotional and even physical well-being.
There have been many studies done on the benefits of positive touch that prove touch can make people live longer, be more open to giving positive responses and be more willing to help others, and that even the briefest touch from another person can elicit strong emotional experiences.
Touch is crucial in creating and strengthening romantic relationships. Tactile physical affection is highly correlated with overall relationship and partner satisfaction. Endorphins, dopamine, oxytocin and serotonin are often released during touch, which improves mood, bonding and those much-needed “love feelings.” Moreover, conflict resolution is easier with more physical affection—conflicts are resolved more easily with increased amounts of hugging, cuddling/holding and kissing on the lips.
Gallace and Spence (2010) report studies showing that individuals who received pre-stress partner contact demonstrated significantly lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure and increased heart rates than the no-contact group. Non-sexual physical affection involving tactile stimulation, such as back-rubbing and hugs, has also been shown to be of value.
In her book “Touch” (2001), Tiffany Field claims that in many circumstances, touch is stronger than verbal or emotional contact. Touch is critical for children’s growth, development and health, as well as for adults’ physical and mental well-being. Nevertheless, Fields argues that many societies, such as current American society, are dangerously touch-deprived — accordingly, many people today suffer from a shortage of tactile stimulation, which she terms “touch hunger.”
So to answer your question, your husband may have a differing need for touch in his life than you based on the unique ways that he feels most loved; he may have a highly developed need for physical touch to feel bonded and connected with the people he loves most; he may be touch-deprived due to society’s lack of positive touch; and he may also highly enjoy the rush of chemicals that erupt in him that make him feel happy when he’s giving and receiving touch.
Whatever the reason, I encourage you to feed the need he has and relish the attachment that you both create with physical touch.
(Nikki Delaney is a licensed counselor and owner of A New You Counseling in Rio Rancho, which received the Marriage Counselor, , Best of Rio Rancho Award in 2015. You can submit “Love Letter” questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or rioranchocouplescounseling.com.)
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