We have already learned that touching is a great bond-inducer and stress-reliever. This is true for basketball players as it is for spouses. Research now says a specific kind of touching—kissing—is even more effective at reducing stress than other kinds of touching. That’s great news for kissing fans.
Kissing unleashes chemicals that ease stress hormones in both sexes. It also increasing bonding, at least in men. Wendy Hill, professor of neuroscience at Lafayette College, says the chemicals in saliva may be a tool for assessing mates.
For her research, Hill paired heterosexual college students who kissed for 15 minutes while listening to music. These students experienced significant changes in oxytocin levels (which affects bonding) and cortisone levels (associated with stress). Men and women had declined cortisol. Oxytocin levels increased for men, but decreased for women.
In the test group that merely held hands, chemical changes were “similar, but much less pronounced,” said Hill.
Hill presented her findings at a session on the Science of Kissing. Isn’t it interesting that such a conference exists? Her co-presenter, Helen Fisher of Rutgers University says 90 percent of human societies practice kissing. It’s three purposes are said to be for sex drive, romantic love, and attachment.
Fisher adds that men tend to think of kissing as a prelude to sex, and that they prefer “sloppy kisses” in which chemicals, including testosterone can be passed to the woman in saliva. (Testosterone increases sex drive in both men and women.)
If you find your marriage and family life is getting a little too stressful some days, make time for kissing. And not just as a prelude to sex. Talk about what kind of kissing you prefer, and when you like it best. Some marriage experts suggest lengthening your hello and goodbye kisses to at least 30 seconds. Taking this research into consideration, it may lead to a less stressful day or evening for you both.
Read Do You Kiss Like You Mean It? for common kissing mistakes.
How many times a day do you think you and your spouse kiss? Consider increasing this number.