As Dr. Pepper and I discussed in our new book, Snap Strategies for Couples: 40 Fast Fixes for Everyday Relationship Pitfalls, it reminded me of how important touch is to us and other mammals. Touch helps us stay connected to each other and touch promotes health. There are multiple studies showing that if couples are holding hands when they talk about a problem (even a really big one) they're most likely to make a decision or find a solution they can agree on. Plus, even better, they also feel closer to each other.
There is another HUGE benefit to touch: the level of cortisol (the primary stress hormone) goes down, which lowers anxiety, tension, heart-rate, and blood-pressure.
There's empirical data, but I have my very own data. My husband Lynn and I were in Canada leaving on a boating trip to the Queen Charlotte Islands. Lynn woke me up around three in the morning and said he was having an irregular heartbeat and we should go to the hospital. Then he added "AND DON'T CALL 911. JUST DRIVE". Okay, this is a time where "he must be obeyed".
So we drove to the hospital by map -- no GPS back then --- got him admitted, and yes he had an irregular heartbeat. They hooked him up to IVs, a heart monitor, and a blood-pressure cuff, so while he's trying to relax, I touched his arm. Immediately, on the blood-pressure monitor, I watched as his blood-pressure drops about twenty points. Then, I moved my hand away and his blood-pressure shoots back up. "Hmmm, okay," I thought. So I touched his arm again, for longer, and it went down even further. I took my hand away, and up it went again. Right around then, Lynn said, "Lana, please stop that." I did so and just quietly left my hand on his arm. But my little study proved what the BIG studies say: touch is good.
By the way, we did go off by plane to be dropped off on a deserted Island in the Queen Charlotte Islands in a very small inflatable boat -- but that's another story.
Remember: TOUCH. A lot. And often.