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Hug your partner. Increase oxytocin. Feel loved.

Did you know that if you give your partner a full contact body hug for at least 20 seconds at a time you both have the potential to release oxytocin, the "love" hormone? For couples in distress, both people are likely releasing damaging cortisol (the stress hormone). Because a sense of safety can release oxytocin, this makes the 20 second body hug a wonderful (and fun) antidote for the other. The more times a day you can do this with your partner the better but great times are in transitional moments in the morning before one of both of you goes to work - or before one or both of you turns in for the night. Please keep in mind that this hug may not be appropriate if the level of conflict is too high in which case a time-out or cooling off period might be more appropriate.

I recently wrote about 5 tips to help sustain relationships - and one of them included the "20 second body hug." If you missed this post, here's a quick summary in the acronym, "CHIRP."

  1. Check-In - keep the lines of communication open.
  2. Hug - get the oxytocin flowing.
  3. Interest - demonstrate an interest in what interests your partner.
  4. Romance - date night, date night, date night.
  5. Play - be silly and de-escalate conflict more efficiently.

See the full post for a more detailed description of each.


Lisa Brookes Kift is a Marriage and Family Therapist and author of The Marriage Refresher Course Workbook for Couples, a cost effective, do-it-yourself, therapist-guided alternative to couples counseling.

You can follow Lisa on Twitter or Facebook.

Lisa's other posts on Hitched:

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