Sometimes it’s the little signs of affection that keep couples from drifting apart.
I have never been good at holding hands.
Or any small, physical signs of affection, really.
Don’t get me wrong. I love my wife immensely and she knows it. I do lots of things to show her — both little and big. But I rarely find myself interlacing my fingers in hers while we walk around town or watch movies together.
How is it that I’m so terrible at something as simple as holding hands? For that matter what would make me bad at something so clearly desirable? Research suggests that touch is vital to our well-being. And what are spouses for if not one another’s well-being?
Mark Greene has written about the effects of touch isolation for the Good Men Project. He points out some of the ways that platonic touch is important for men — and some of the subtle ways we’re raised to avoid it.
I know there are many men who, like me, have spent so much time keeping an arms-length bubble of personal space that we tend to maintain it even when we’re out with our spouses. Not because we don’t love them or value their touch, but because, for some of us, touch isolation is our default setting. When we walk through the grocery with our spouse, we’re not holding hands because we’re not actively thinking about it.
That’s fine. There’s not a rule that says couples need to be touching all the time.
But strong marriages require both romance and friendship and touch is important enough to be included in both of those aspects of a couple’s life together. An arm wrapped quietly around the waist or a hand momentarily clasped gently in another’s hand can reinforce the relationship’s platonic side.
So, what can these otters holding hands teach men like me about marriage?
The kicker happens at about 1:20 into the video. When the distractions of the world cause our minds to wander from our love for one another, couples can begin to drift apart. Sometimes a gesture as simple as a loving hand reaching out can bring them back together.