If you are a reader of my work, you’ll have noticed a distinct pattern in my writing as of late. I’m feeling a bit insecure. This mentality crops up now and then in my life because, at heart, I am an anxious person.
I’m working on this by learning how to reduce my stress and appreciate my body as it is — in all its glory.
However, sometimes when these feelings of insecurity hammer down upon me, it begins to affect my personal relationships with people. I tend to withdraw from those that mean the most to me. I suspect this is a defence mechanism to hide my shortcomings. I feel that if I can crawl into my little hidey-hole and not talk to anyone for a few days (or weeks), then I will come out of my slump, and no one will be the wiser.
Yeah, real healthy, I know.
My recent bought of self-esteem issues caused more than just a withdrawal, however. I created an out and out riff in my marriage. I became obsessive with the idea that I wasn’t good enough for my husband and, ultimately, he would discover this and leave me.
Keep in mind: This. Was. All. In. My. Head.
Jamie has no intentions of leaving me. He loves me with a fierceness that is only rivaled by the amount of unconditional love he has for our two amazing children.
My frame of mind resulted in a massive fight between us and me setting up camp in the spare room for four days.
See: Me retreating to avoid feelings at all cost paragraph.
Then a friend of mine recommended the book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle. I won’t get into it here because it is a treasure trove of amazing information to process, and I just recommend you read it. But in the book, they talk about connection and the six-second kiss.
“One example of affection is the “six-second kiss” advice from relationship researcher John Gottman. Every day, he suggests, kiss your partner for six seconds. That’s one six-second kiss, mind you, not six one- second kisses. Six seconds is, if you think about it, a potentially awkwardly long kiss. But there’s a reason for it: Six seconds is too long to kiss someone you resent or dislike, and it’s far too long to kiss someone with whom you feel unsafe. Kissing for six seconds requires that you stop and deliberately notice that you like this person, that you trust them, and that you feel affection for them. By noticing those things, the kiss tells your body that you are safe with your tribe.” — Excerpt from Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, by Emily Nagoski and Amelia Nagoski.
After reading this, I figured, hey, anything to get me out of this spare room and spooning with my dog every night.
So Jamie and I talked, and then I told him what I had in mind to bring more of a connection back to our relationship. Of course, the six-second kiss wasn’t the only thing I’m doing to treat my crippling insecurity issues, but it was a good step in the right direction in reminding myself that I am loved and cherished in my marriage.
So, what happens when you choose to take six seconds several times a day to kiss your partner?
Day one was weird.
The argument was still fresh in our minds, so kissing someone who you hadn’t been talking to for the past four days for six entire seconds was a bit uncomfortable. Although I love kissing my husband, I kept thinking about all my own issues. We kissed for six seconds twice that day, and the one in the evening before bed was worlds more comfortable than the first time we did it. It was easier and enjoyable even. No tight lips or nervous laughter like the first one. Just simple kissing. I felt my body relax, and a wave of this is actually going to be okay washed over me.
Day two was even better.
I woke up feeling pretty good, knowing that both Jamie and I were making efforts to work on our relationship. Aside from our new kissing schedule, we had talked about things that we needed to work on to better our relationship. I realized that it isn’t up to him to make me feel good about myself. He admitted that work had been tough lately, and he hadn’t paid as much attention to me as usual. We promised we would consciously work towards healthier ways of dealing with our own separate stresses in life and kissed (for six seconds) on it.
On day three, I reminded Jamie in the morning that we had to do our six-second kiss, and although he laughed about it, he willingly participated.
At this point, I had a sneaking suspicion he wasn’t taking this as seriously as me. But that was okay because he was still making an effort to do it to help me. That’s one of the many reasons I love this guy so much. We kissed for six seconds five times throughout the day. This kissing for long periods of time thing was starting to become commonplace — and I liked it.
When you allow your guard to go down and open yourself up to your spouse, something special happens. You are sharing a piece of your vulnerability with them. Sharing fears and hopes open up trust in a relationship. Six seconds feels like a rather long time to be lip-locked, but in that time, a lot of awesome things can happen. A pleasant concoction of hormones release and a feeling of relief washes over your chest and relaxes the muscles you didn’t even know were tight.
Just as the book had said, these long, thoughtful kisses have brought attention to the fact that we, as a couple, can and do feel safe and wanted in each other’s company.
Day four and five were much like day three, except Jamie didn’t laugh at my reminding him of our kissing time.
He was the one who initiated it. I was sitting at my computer writing this article about six-second kissing when he came up to me, poured me a coffee and kissed me hard for much longer than six seconds.
“Just a little more research for your article,” he said, in that charming way of his.
I don’t know if we will continue to do these six-second kisses for the rest of our marriage, but what I do know is that it is helping us through a tough time right now. In the weeks to come, it reminds us to think of one another. To be there emotionally when the other person needs that little bit extra support throughout the day.
Marriage is one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done. It is an ever-changing, ever-challenging relationship that takes work and compromise and unconditional love. But what I’ve learned most from our six-second kisses is that withdrawing and not talking about my feelings, worries, and insecurities wasn’t doing us any favours. Connection is always key to building healthy relationships with others and oneself.
This post was previously published on Hello, Love.
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