Tag Archives: power of touch

Adoring Strangers Remind Us to be Adoring Spouses


“We are probably missing so much about the people around us,” says one subject of a photographer’s project in a touching UpWorthy video. The project, called “Touching Strangers” involved a photographer picking out two or three strangers on the street and posing them like adoring family members.

The photos are quite beautiful, often with stark contrasts, and in most you would never know the people are not close in real life. Check out the short video to see for yourself.

The amazing thing is that the project could have been an experiment to determine how people would feel about one another after posing in that way. Many felt the physical touching and gazing at each other broke down barriers, provided comfort, made them care about the other person (whom they didn’t know at all), and gave them pleasant, lovely feelings. It’s “humanity as it could be” according to the announcer.

If physical closeness and looking into one another’s eyes can create this much caring and feeling in total strangers, what can it do for real family members? A lot. Physical touch is known to release the bonding hormone oxytocin. Hugging, holding, gazing—these actions make you feel close and help you to really see the other person deep down.

In our busy days, it’s important to create these moments in our own homes. That means turning off distractions like electronics and carving out a bit of time and space for real connection. Don’t forget to actually touch, snuggle, kiss, hug, and soak in those pleasant feelings.

Does this mean pretend to be close and loving? No, it means we don’t always feel affectionate and loving, particularly after a long day of challenges. But our actions (demonstrating love and closeness) can lead our heart to where it wants to be.

If it works for perfect strangers, it can work to inspire marriages, too.

For more details on how to incorporate more touch in your relationship, check out Little Touches Make Big Impact on Relationships.

Lori Lowe is the author of First Kiss to Lasting Bliss: Hope & Inspiration for Your Marriage. It tells the inspiring, true stories of couples who used adversity to improve their marriages–from overcoming drug addiction to cancer, infidelity, religious differences, family interference and infertility, among many others. It’s available at Amazon.com and in various e-book formats here.

Little Touches Make Big Impact in Relationships

 What can NBA players teach us about relationships? More than we think.  Benedict Carey of the New York Times wrote in February about research in Mind magazine in an article called “Evidence That Little Touches Do Mean So Much.” Researchers studied touch–everything from high-fives to warm touches on the shoulder.

One research team tracked every “bump, hug and high five in a single game played by each team in the National Basketball Association early last season.” The journal Emotion is to publish the results this year, but the results are telling:

  • Good teams tended to have more touches than bad ones.
  • The league’s top two teams were the most touch-bonded teams—the Boston Celtics and the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • The least touchy teams were the Sacramento Kings and Charlotte Bobcats, neither of which had good seasons.

Guys, if this doesn’t get your attention about the importance of touch, what will? There is even a scientific basis for why we need touch. “A warm touch seems to set off the release of oxytocin, a hormone that helps create a sensation of trust, and to reduce levels of the stress hormone cortisole.” Women who may have high levels of stress hormones may especially crave this touch to help feel bonded. Once the stress hormones are reduced, the brain’s prefrontal areas (regulating emotion) can relax and proceed to solve problems.

“In effect, the body interprets a supportive touch as,‘I’ll share the load,’” says James A. Coan, a psychologist at the University of Virginia. “We are wired to literally share the processing load, and this is the signal we’re getting when we receive support through touch.”

Researchers also studies romantic partners, and preliminary results show the ones who touched more during interviews reported highest relationship satisfaction. While it’s unclear whether the touching or the satisfaction came first, there is certainly a correlation. For some people whose primary love language is touch, positive contact is even more important.

So, if you’re a man who feels you are sharing the load, but your wife doesn’t always respond in the way you expect, ramp up the amount of (non-sexual) touch in your home. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, here are suggestions. These are also good opportunities to increase your ratio of positive comments to negative, but even a touch alone is beneficial.

  • Give a hug before getting out of bed or starting your day.
  • Give a longer-than-usual kiss when you leave or arrive home.
  • Put your hands on her waist as she is cooking or doing dishes and kiss her cheek.
  • Touch her cheek, or stroke her hair at the end of the day.
  • Rub her shoulders when she seems tired or stressed.
  • Touch her arm when you ask about her day.
  • Sit close enough to touch or snuggle when watching TV.
  • Reach over when driving to momentarily touch her hand or shoulder.

Wives who are moms often turn to their children for positive touch. This can be helpful in releasing stress hormones, but if men are not part of this positive-touch pattern they are missing out on an important part of daily bonding. A bonded team is a successful team. Just ask the Lakers.

A soldier I interviewed said missing positive touch from his family was the most difficult part of his deployment. Do you take positive touch for granted? Do you wish you had more touch during the day? Are you surprised about the NBA study?