How often do you and your spouse cuddle?  This simple act could be the key to strengthening your marriage, improving your sex life, and feeling more connected to your mate.  Does it sound too good to be true? Not really. Here are five reasons why cuddling could transform your marriage. So read on and take the Cuddle Challenge! 

1. Cuddling connects us

Oxytocin has been described as the “love hormone” because it strengthens our attachments and bonding, and it produces positive feelings.  According to a study published in Live Science men who were in relationships were given a a burst of oxytocin spray.  The result? These men stood farther away from an attractive woman (not their partner) than men who weren’t given any oxytocin.  For single men there was no effect from the hormone. The conclusion was that oxytocin may work as a fidelity booster for guys who are already bonded to another woman.

In another study referenced in The Scientific American  oxytocin has been proven to make us more sympathetic, supportive and open with our feelings.  Oxytocin correlates with the longevity of a relationship and helps couples be more attuned to each other. “The high-oxytocin couples finished each other’s sentences, laughed together and touched each other more often.”

2. Cuddling slows us down

It’s hard to cuddle when you’re in a hurry.  When we cuddle our spouse, it helps us to focus on what’s truly important.  We communicate to our mate that they matter and we have time to notice them, comfort them, and touch them.  We suggest cuddling for a minimum of 5 minutes a day. Just giving each other that undivided attention each day can increase one’s marital satisfaction.

3. Cuddling improves your sex life

All cuddling should not lead to sex. If cuddling often leads to sex, but one of you isn’t as interested sexually as the other, then they might pull away from cuddling—the very thing that strengthens your relationship!

But cuddling over time will improve your sex life. Cuddling releases oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin. These all combine to help your connection with your spouse to be deeper and more intimate. Your readiness for sexual intimacy is heightened over time. As a result, when the two of you do connect sexually, you will be making love far more than the act of having sex.

In fact, research backs this up. Marriage expert, Dr. John Gottman, has discovered in his research of over 3,000 couples that cuddling is one of the key things all couples do who have an amazing sex life. In another study of over 70,000 couples in 24 countries (found here), only 6% of non-cuddlers had a good sex life.

And don’t forget to cuddle after making love! Take time to hold each other and bask in the intimacy of what you just shared.

4. Cuddling improves your health

We referenced some of the benefits above to the oxytocin that is released through physical touch and especially when we hug. Oxytocin affects other aspects of our physical well-being as well. For example, some studies have found that if you want to lose weight by decreasing your urge to eat, increasing oxytocin levels in your body may help you do that!

Cuddling before going to sleep can improve the quality of your sleep and the rest you get. As a result of improved sleep your stress levels will decrease which also improves your overall well-being. (read more here) In addition, according to WebMD, the oxytocin released from cuddling can help block pain signals and increase your immunity.

5. Cuddling protects your marriage

Physical touch is something we naturally desire.  God created us that way. Whether that need is met through a touch, a hug, a cuddle, or a kiss it’s something we yearn for.  In fact, we seek it so much that there are companies who actually employ professional cuddlers! One company currently contracts with more than 230 cuddlers!   So why not have that cuddle desire met in the context of marriage?

Because oxytocin is secreted when we cuddle our spouse, we feel better when we cuddle.  In a study on sexual behavior it was discovered that couples feel more loving and affectionate toward their partners when they cuddle. We feel safe and trust our spouse more. Even stress and anxiety can be diminished.

One of the most fascinating aspects of cuddling is that cuddling may actually guard your marriages from outside intruders. Psychology Today referenced “a large study of several species of vole, rodents known to mate for life, and oxytocin was found to play a role in stimulating monogamy among them.”

“Studies in humans support the possibility that the release of oxytocin may decrease the likelihood of unfaithfulness.”  Anything we can do to bond with our spouse while creating positive experiences and emotions, will help protect our marriage.

Our challenge is this:  cuddle for five minutes a day for the next seven days.  As you do, you’ll draw closer to your spouse, enjoy the benefits of cuddling, and build your marriage.