Make the most of this Valentine’s Day by nurturing the good feelings in all relationships through bonding. Reignite the romantic spark by nurturing your couple relationship, and reap the benefits if oxytocin by getting close to friends and family of all kind. The act of bonding can be one of the most powerful gifts you can give to others and will enable the overall strengthening of relationships.
Bonding with Your Partner
Cold weather is still lingering, so bonding indoors can be as easy as watching a movie on the couch after the kids have gone to bed. For example, make a date with your partner at least two times a week to bond over television shows you both enjoy, and leave plenty of time to connect over your likes and dislikes regarding the program. Make an effort to physically connect while you emotionally connect to increase your physical desire for your partner as well.
Trying new activities has also been proven to bring partners together. It does not matter if you have been together for five months or 55 years; keeping the spark alive in your relationship can be challenging. If you feel things are a little dull or too routine, find ways to mix it up! Cooking together is a fantastic way for couples to bond. Perhaps there is a class you can take together. Stuck at home with the kids? Find a fancy cookbook and take the kids out to the store to help you find the ingredients. Once the little ones eat their grilled cheeses and are tucked in for the night, tackle your new cookbook together. Learning a new skill will encourage you to work collaboratively with your partner and increase your teamwork skills, which will improve your relationship.
According to livescience.com, physical touch is a powerful, scientific way to strengthen your relationship. Oxytocin is commonly known as the “cuddle hormone” as it tends to be released into the system when people cuddle or physically touch in an affectionate way. This hormone has been known to promote bonding for both adults and children. It’s proven that relationships improve with the increase of positive physical touch, so be sure to cuddle with your partner as often as desired.
All About Oxytocin
The fun does not stop there, however. Oxytocin can have many positive effects including pain relief, stress reduction and it provides an immune system boost.
Oxytocin also affects relationships between parents and children. Oxytocin is released by the mother during the birthing process, increasing the bond between mother and child. Once the oxytocin is released, mothers will find their babes irresistible, increasing their need for positive physical contact with the child. Studies have also shown that cuddling with the child will increase their oxytocin levels, increasing the bond a child may feel towards their mother as well.
Oxytocin also has a positive effect on men in both their parental relationships as well as their couple relationship. Physical touch with their child will increase a male’s desire to bond with that child, as well as a desire to play with the child. This positive physical touch will in turn promote a burst of oxytocin within the child, causing a stronger bond to form between the father and his kin. Men who have experienced oxytocin bursts have been proven to be more faithful to their romantic partners than men who were neglected as children. When a man bonds with a woman, be it his mother in his formative years or his romantic partner as an adult, he will feel an increase in social bonding and be more attached to his romantic partner overall.
The chemical can also be released through play with a dog or a cat as they can also participate in positive physical touch. Cuddling with your furry friend can bring your oxytocin levels up, increasing your bonds with your little buddy in a social way. Regardless of who you choose to bond with, oxytocin can positively affect your day-to-day life. Reigniting the spark in your life, be it in your romantic relationship, parental relationship, or in your relationship with yourself, will have many positive benefits. Go ahead, reignite that spark and get touching!
Kerry Hart, LLMFT is a couple and family therapist in private practice. She is located in both East Lansing and Grand Rapids. www.kerryhartcounseling.com