A password will be e-mailed to you.

We entered the office as angry as we’ve ever been with each other. Catherine and I had been going to the counselor together for a few months and we were seeing incredible fruit from our sessions.

But this day was HATE day.

I could barely look at her. Everything in me wanted to fight, attack, complain, separate; and she was feeling exactly the same.

Tensions were on high voltage and no matter what the counselor said, neither of us was going to stop the fast-moving loathe train.

20 minutes into it and with little progress achieved, he suggested the most annoying thing a counselor has ever suggested in the history of counseling.

“Ok. You guys just need to hug it out.”

Oh the horror.

“I’m going to add 5 minutes to my stop watch and you guys are just going to hold each other.”

And to be honest with you, the time and money invested in counseling forced us to take the counselors advice. So we stood up, carefully approaching each other and started the dumbest (and least honest) hug of our 11 year relationship.

Our counselor actually had to guide us through the first minute. “Ok Carlos, remember the good times with Catherine.” “Now Catherine, begin to stroke his back.”

While following orders and rolling our eyes (because of the hatred) something about that exchange spoke loudly to our hearts. It sent a deep message about the investment in our relationship. It encouraged understanding and empathy. And all of a sudden, as we awkwardly waited for minute number two to finish, we started to really embrace.

It ended up being one the most therapeutic moments in our marriage. We look back to that day as a legitimate mark of hopeful transition.

Because by minute five, with tears in our eyes, everything changed.

So we added a few more minutes, with a few more strokes, and some of the most sincere I love you’s we have ever shared.

Above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection. Colossians 3:14

May I suggest going against everything in you that says, “run, hide, reject” and finding the people who matter most in life?

And hug it out.

According to Jesus in Luke 15, hugs are part of God’s strategy to demonstrate how much He loves us. (Read more about God’s prodigal love here.)

Here’s a collection of the top 8 emotional/health benefits of hugs. My hope is that this will strengthen the idea, encourage boldness and set you free to hug more:

1. Hugging it out will boost oxytocin levels (aka the love hormone) which heal feelings of isolation, loneliness and anger.

2. When you hug, the hormones that are released in the body aren’t just good for positive feelings — they can also help your physical health. Hugs trigger the pressure receptors called Pacinian corpuscles, which then send signals to the vagus nerve, an area of the brain that is responsible for (among many things) lowering blood pressure, NPR reported.

3. Hugs strengthen the immune system. The gentle pressure on the sternum stimulates the thymus gland, which regulates and balances the body’s production of white blood cells, keeping you healthy and disease free.

4. Hugging boosts self-esteem. Self-worth is linked to tactile sensations from our early years. Hugs reconnect our brains with the healthy affection received during childhood.

5. Holding a hug for an extended time lifts one’s serotonin levels, elevating mood and building joy.

6. Hugs balance out the nervous system. The galvanic skin response of someone receiving and giving a hug shows a change in skin conductance. The effect in moisture and electricity in the skin suggests a more balanced state in the parasympathetic nervous system.

7. Hugging relaxes muscles as they release tension in the body. They can take away pain as they soothe aches by increasing circulation into the soft tissues.

There are many more benefits to hugs, as with other demonstrations of love like holding hands and kissing. These acts of love can coach us on how to give and receive. They are tutors on how love flows both ways.

Seriously, you should try it out (hug it out). Seeing as one hug could change your day, your relationships, your expectations of the future.

That may sound like an exaggeration, but I now have a happy marriage to prove it.

Peace.

“Yes, it’s vulnerable and scary to keep your love on toward someone who has become a perceived threat—you cannot guarantee what he or she is going to do. But you can guarantee your own choice. And you can always choose connection.”

– Read more in the masterful book: Keep Your Love On by Danny Silk. 

* If you think your family/friends would like this too, I would love for you to share it with them. Thanks! You rock.

Here’s another article exclusively for husbands… because we need the most help 🙂 “Men Who Kiss Their Wives”