Can Kissing Save Your Relationship?

Marriage Counseling Series at The Life Change Group, written by Dr. Pam Wright, mental health expert. How can kissing save your relationship

What's in a Kiss?

Today we're talking about one of the most popular topics I get in marriage counseling and couples therapy. Believe it or not, it's kissing. The simple act of locking lips seems to have everyone just head over heels with questions. What's the best way? What does it mean if he/she doesn't anymore? And my favorite recently "can kissing my partner more save my marriage?" It's a fair question. After all, the practice of kissing has been around for a LONG time. There are reports of kissing from as far back as ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt in 2500 BCE. Since then, oral hygiene, Hallmark Channel and entire days and traditions devoted to kissing (think Valentines Day, New Year's, and even Kiss a Ginger Day) have all helped to propel this common human activity into popularity. It's estimated that about 90 percent of cultures practice kissing in one way or another.

Does Kissing Improve Relationships?

Biologically speaking there are a lot of benefits to kissing in relationships. Scientists note that kissing causes our brain to release a potent chemical cocktail stocked full of dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. The combination of these three chemicals work by lighting up the 'pleasure centers' in our brain. Further, the effect of dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow can help relieve headaches and cramps. This is what I tell my couples in marriage counseling, after a long day, when both of your are exhausted and stressed out, there is perhaps no better way to treat your brain and your relationship, than kissing your significant other.

Mentally speaking, kissing is right at the top of the list in terms of easy ways for couples to connect and reconnect. Not to sound too clinical, but it's a low-risk endeavor with positive, high-yield result in terms of intimacy and connectedness. Research from the APA suggests that kissing has a positive impact on relationship satisfaction. Other studies show that couples who continue to kiss regularly tend to have longer and more fulfilled marriages. A German psychologist even showed that men who kiss their partners before going to work "earned 20 to 35 percent more money and used less sick time than their peers who left with no goodbye kiss."

Can Kissing Fix a Bad Relationship?

But can kissing fix a broken relationship or even one that's on the brink? The short answer is "it depends". Males and females view kissing differently (shocker, I know) but the effects of kissing differs still based on the type of relationship and what personality types the couples represent. It quite a complicated question because there are so many variables. What is clear is that more frequent kissing in a relationship was linked to the quality of a relationship - happy couples kiss more. So it goes to reason that if you want to fix a bad relationship, in addition to all the other issues you and your partner might need to work on, kissing is a great place to focus on (re)connecting. From my experience in relationship and marriage counseling, kissing is more than just a romantic gesture - it's a relationship booster.

Final Thoughts, From Dr. Pam Wright

Next we need to talk about sex and intimacy…I know that’s a major topic in couples therapy. But I’m always shocked when I ask clients when they last kissed their partner. It’s like the brain is ticking back to years ago…kidding… but I’ve been thinking of how important a kiss can be.  Kissing your partner not only helps your relationship, but models for your children and others a healthy relationship. I’m not advocating to go all PDA at a store, but greeting your partner with a kiss in the morning or after a long day may have multiple benefits…go get that Dopamine, Oxytocin, and Serotonin. And plant one on your kid’s forehead, or your furry children while you are at it!

#KissAndThrived #RelationshipGoals

Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and mental health expert. She is the founder and owner of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga.Dr. Pam Wright is a licensed psychologist and a mental health expert. She is the Founder and Director of The Life Change Group in Peachtree City, Ga. Her psychology practice is a team of therapists, counselors and psychologists offering a wide range of psychological testing and individual, couples and family counseling. Dr. Wright is also a co-host of the "Middle Age(ish)" podcast and has appeared on NBC in Atlanta.