“I Want to Hold Your Hand”
Some months back my wife and I went to a local concert with a Beatles tribute band. Not surprisingly, one of their featured songs that evening was the 1964 hit “I Want to Hold Your Hand.”
I left this concert with two main takeaways.
First, and less importantly, I now sort of understand why my wonderful father-in-law dressed like he did in the early 70s.
Second, and more importantly (especially since I am a marriage and family scholar), I started thinking about the importance of such a simple act – holding your spouse’s hand.
And let’s face it: don’t we all want to be one of those cute older couples who are still holding hands decades later?
And is it possible that holding hands with your spouse now may help you still be happily married then?
Ahh, patience! We’ll cover that shortly. But first, a quiz!
Do you remember the anticipation leading up to holding your spouse’s hand for the first time?
Were you the one brave enough to make the first move?
Did this simple act fill you with warmth and closeness toward your future spouse?
However, wherever, and whenever it happened for you and your spouse, I bet you still fondly remember the details!
For my wife and I, it was on a date a few weeks after we met. Carissa and I had already enjoyed a few dates together. This evening we were watching a play at a local theater.
I really don’t remember much about the play.
In part because it was a long time ago. Mostly, however, it was because my mind was completely preoccupied with my desire to hold her hand.
Well, why didn’t I just take it you might ask? After all, nothing ventured nothing gained, right?
But, as it was, I was a big chicken! Notwithstanding the fact that her hand was intentionally beckoning from the armrest (as she would later confess), we were well into the third act before I finally had the guts to hold her hand for the first time.
If I had a hard time remembering the play before I held her hand, I had no chance remembering what was happening for the remainder of the play.
Thoughts like these were running through my head:
“I can’t believe it, this beautiful girl is letting me hold her hand.”
“Ugh, you fool, why didn’t you try this an hour earlier?”
“I really wish this was a seven act play.”
This simplest of physical touches, holding hands, sent butterflies through my body that day. It was wonderful.
I bet many of you have similar memories!
Why We Need to Keep Holding Hands!
While most newlyweds generally excel in the area of physical touch, it turns out that holding hands has benefits for all marriages (regardless of how long you’ve been married). Consider this fascinating TED talk from Dr. James Coan (PhD and assistant professor of psychology at the University of Virginia).
According to this research from Dr. Coan, when we hold hands with our spouse we actually send signals to each other. More specifically, this simple act of holding hands sends signals to your spouse’s brain suggesting that “I am here with you”. Over time the signal can grow even stronger to the point that it signals to the brain that “I am you.”
Fascinating, isn’t it?
There is something romantic about the notion of “becoming one” in marriage. This is often manifest as we share our dreams and triumphs, as well as our frustrations and challenges. Likewise, in obvious ways, we become one with our spouse during sexual intimacy. But it is amazing that simply holding hands can subconsciously help us feel of this desirable “oneness” in marriage!
So, if you do want to be married long enough to be one of those adorable older couples walking hand-in-hand through the grocery store, then commit today to frequently reach out for your spouse’s hand.
Remember, even simple acts can strengthen a marriage!