Q. Dear Dr. Fran, my husband stiffens and freezes every time I initiate hugging. The only time he is willing to snuggle is if it is foreplay that leads to sexual intercourse. I can’t help but feel rejected. What should I do to fix this? Marilyn H.
A. Dear Marilyn, I can understand you feeling rejected. Your husband has difficulty with intimacy. This is not a sexual problem. It is one of closeness and attachment that probably stems from the kind of attachment he had to his mother and father.
Each one of us has a comfort zone regarding closeness to other people. That includes a spouse and even children.
Have a dialogue with your husband. Sometimes, bringing the issue out into the open can clear a pathway toward warmer closeness and intimacy.
Here are five reasons why cuddling is good for couples. If after talking with your husband things don’t improve, reach out to a qualified couples therapist to determine if individual or couples therapy is indicated.
• Reason 1: It Feels Good
Cuddling releases oxytocin, which is also known as the feel-good hormone. It increases overall happy feeling.
Cuddling can also release endorphins, which is the chemical released after a good workout or when you eat chocolate which contributes to that great feeling.
• Reason 2: It Makes You Feel Sexy
The most obvious benefit to cuddling is getting close to your partner in the physical sense. There is also the release of dopamine, which is an excitatory hormone that increases sexual desire.
• Reason 3: It Reduces Stress and Blood Pressure
Hugging, kissing, or more physical acts of touch increases oxytocin levels, which is a “bonding”’ hormone—this chemical reaction can help reduce blood pressure, which in turn reduces the risk of heart disease, but it can also help to reduce stress and anxiety.
• Reason 4: It Bonds Women with Babies and Partners
Cuddling is healthy for people because of the obvious factor of emotional attachment.
Oxytocin is a neuropeptide that is closely linked to childbirth and breastfeeding, and a recent study shows it has a biological role in bonding between mother and baby.
The study, led by Lane Strathearn, an assistant professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine, shows that women raised with insecure attachment themselves are more likely to have difficulty forming secure attachments with their children (and partners).”
It’s healthy to want to be close. Too little or too much is not good. Observe and explore your own personal comfort zone. You will be a better communicator with your partner on how much feels good and when it gets too close for comfort. Your goal is to find a balance between your comfort zone and needs along with your partner’s.
• Reason 5: It Helps You Communicate Better
Most people want to feel understood, and communication is the vehicle by which they transmit understanding and empathy. Non-verbal communication can be a powerful way to say to your partner, “I get you.” Cuddling is a way of saying, “I know how you feel.” It allows us to feel known by our partner in ways that words can’t convey.
The Beverly Hills Courier, May 10, 2013