Amy Bishop, MS, MFT
How to Kiss Your Spouse to Save Your Marriage
“How do you greet each other when you come home?” “Do you kiss?” “For how long do you kiss?”
These are 3 questions I may ask in the process of therapy. If I’m not met with blank stares by the second question, I will likely be met with confused faces by the third.
Many couples say something like, “Yes we kiss. For how long? **exchange nervous glances** Uhhh...not long?”
I don’t ask to purposely make couples uncomfortable—I ask this to determine if the kiss is something the couple prolongs, if kissing is intentional and not habitual, and if the kisses are exciting.
How long does a kiss have to be to be exciting?
Six seconds is the answer, according to John Gottman, a leading couples researcher and therapist. “A six-second kiss is a kiss with potential. It’s a kiss worth coming home to,” Gottman says.
Even more than a kiss with potential, these six seconds may also be long enough to take the kiss from cordial to romantic. And romantic kissing has been proven to have several benefits including, but not limited to:
· increased relationship satisfaction
· decreased stress
· improved physiological health
(why go to the gym if you can get these benefits from just kissing?)
Okay, I got it, a 6-second kiss! ...But when?
With practice, making a ritual of a longer kiss isn't difficult. Here are a few moments when introducing or lengthening a kiss has enhanced capacity to increase connection and passion:
· Good Bye kisses
· Hello kisses
· We’re-fighting-but-I-still-love-you kisses
· Surprise kisses
Good byes are unconsciously anxiety-provoking from infanthood to adulthood. The psychology community may know these as "separations"—moments such as brief time apart to go to work or on an errand, leaving for a long trip, and even going to sleep. Strong couples connect in these moments with an act such as kissing*, and don’t take these goodbye embraces for granted. In other words, give your partner more than an auto-pilot peck on your way out the door, and notice if your relationship and stress-levels feel better throughout the day.
Reuniting (coming home, waking up, etc) with your partner may also be stressful for your nervous system. Finding each other first and connecting with a purposeful kiss helps your sense of connection and stress reduction, and also reduces the number of fights a couple has. Before changing into more comfortable clothes, hitting the couch, or tackling your to-do list when coming home, be sure to seek out your partner and greet them.
Arguments are always stressful. However, kissing during or after an argument can help give you and your partner the message that your relationship is safe, and serves as a reminder that your love in unwavering.
Surprise kisses' importance should go without explanation, but for some reason, it seems like married couples engage in this one the least. Surprise kisses are just that—surprising. They may be the most likely to induce butterflies, and they remind you that the passion and connection are still there. Don’t be afraid to do it in front of the kids, either! One of my fondest memories of my grandparents is that of my grandpa planting an unexpectedly long (dare I say six seconds or longer?) kiss on my grandmother's lips as they were cleaning up the kitchen. This type of surprise may have been one of the secrets to their almost 70-year marriage.
Still having reservations that a six-second kiss could improve your relationship? Grab your partner and prove me wrong. You can thank me later.
*An even longer hug, or a prolonged friendly look can also have the same effect, but for busy couples, even ones with kids—especially ones with kids—I recommend a more time-efficient, and possibly more romantic, long smooch on the lips.
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Floyd, K., Boren, J. P., Hannawa, A. F., Hesse, C., McEwan, B., & Veksler, A. E. (2009). Kissing in marital and cohabiting relationships: Effects on blood lipids, stress, and relationship satisfaction. Western Journal of Communication, 73(2), 113-133.
Tatkin, S. (2011) Wired for Love. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger Publications, Inc.
Wheeler, C. (2018, February 2) The Magic of the Six Second Kiss – Gottman Marriage minute. Retrieved from: https://mycounselingsolutions.wordpress.com/2018/02/02/the-magic-of-the-six-second-kiss-gottman-marriage-minute/