Staying indoors during this pandemic has not been easy for most of us, with the loss of social connections being stark. But the findings of this study may inspire you to look inwards, and share some fun moments with your spouse, while also making your relationship stronger.
The new study, published by a team of researchers at the Binghamton University’s Center for Transdisciplinary Research on Intimate Relationships, says that non-sexual physical intimacy with your spouse could fulfill relationship satisfaction, and in turn, help your relationship. This was found to be true across various attachment styles.
Conducted with a sample of 184 heterosexual married couples over 18 years of age, the research left out same-sex couples, and people who were on hormonal therapy, as well as women who were postmenopausal, pregnant, or currently breastfeeding. The team sought to look at the effects of non-sexual touch among these couples, while also considering the attachment styles of the individuals involved. The non-sexual touching would include hugs and cuddles and more.
The researchers expected to find lesser expectations of touch from individuals with avoidant attachment styles. However, they found that irrespective of the attachment styles, routinely experienced affection positively impacted satisfaction levels.
There was also a difference between how it affected men and women. Men associated with higher routine affection with relationship satisfaction. Meanwhile, for women, lower levels of routine affection meant relationship dissatisfaction, which meant they were missing the basics and their satisfaction had dipped into negative. Also, women solicited affection when they found it lacking, whereas anxious men showed lower satisfaction.
“Feel free to give some extra snugs on the couch. There’s plenty of evidence that suggests touch as a way to decrease stress,” said Samantha Wagner, Ph.D. student and lead author of the paper. “I think we should all hold the loved ones we can a little closer and be thoughtful of the struggles that others might be having because they can’t do just that. If anything is true for me, a hug has become even more precious than it was before,” she adds.
The results of this study have been published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships. The findings prove especially handy for couples who are spending more time indoors these days, to turn their quarantine time into cozy time.