Hold My Hand

Hold My Hand - Cheryl Woolstone Counselling Blog

What happens when your husband holds your hand?

He is actually doing more than just expressing affection, he is altering your brain chemistry and lowering your stress level.

Here is the catch, you need to be happily married for this to happen!

Dr. James Coan, Professor at the University of Virginia, studied the effect of hand holding on stressed out married women. This simple act has a powerful impact on stress levels and neurochemical changes can be measured by an MRI.

Sixteen women who scored high on a marital satisfaction questionnaire were studied to determine whether a comforting gesture from their husband could lower stress levels.

The subjects were given a mild electric shock while undergoing an MRI. The researchers studied the women’s brain’s under three scenarios:

  • Shock without the comfort of another person
  • Shock when holding the hand of a stranger
  • Shock when holding the hand of her husband

No Surprise

Hand holding in general quieted the parts of the brain related to the stress response. But when the woman was holding her husband’s hand the MRI showed additional calming in the region of the brain that controls emotional response.

The take home point: when someone else  is helping you cope in hard times, your brain does not have to work as hard.

I would hazard a guess that when a marriage is in crisis, that the changes in the woman’s brain patterning would resemble the scenario when there is no one there for comfort.

Couples will talk about the agony of feeling alone in their relationship. By the time that they end up in therapy they will be strangers to each other, no longer sharing their intimate thoughts and feelings.

Research also shows us that the average time that a couple waits to seek help is 5 to 7 years, after the troubles set in. Early intervention and prevention is key, it is challenging to resuscitate a relationship after years of disconnect.

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This entry was posted on Monday, June 6th, 2011 at 8:00 AM and is filed under IMAGO and Relationships. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

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