I love my husband, he loves me, and we’ve been married for 11 years, with four kids, seven chickens, and a dog. I feel like we are more in love and happy now than we have ever been. So, what’s our key to success? Some may think it’s communication — and yes, we do find the perfect GIF or TikTok to send each other to share our feelings, but no that’s not it. In fact, the key is something we do every single morning, most days right after work, and at night before bed. Yup, you heard that right — at least three times a day, and it starts with ‘S.’
Now before you start rolling your eyes at me and assuming the worst, I’m talking about SNUGGLING. Some call it cuddling, spooning, or even pretzel time as one of my children so eloquently put it once. The point is, that simple act of being physically close to each other has greatly improved our marriage. No matter what shitshow I experienced that day — whether it be the children or work — the moment I curl up next to my grizzly bear of a husband, calmness covers my body. I can feel my breathing slow, my muscles relax, and my heart swell. Well at least until the tiniest of our children jumps on top and yells “Cherry!!!” because she considers herself to be the cherry on top of our human ice cream sundae.
I remember the days when my children were smaller, and I constantly felt so touched out that I didn’t want anyone to even breathe on me. I was breastfeeding, babywearing, and chasing toddlers. I would have rather wrestled an alligator than have someone else touch me.
There are also the friends I hear from who say they dread being intimate with their spouse because they feel like it’s the only physical connection they get. There is never just a good hug, a sweet kiss, or a playful pat on the butt. Instead, their partners expect them to put the baby to bed and immediately turn into a lingerie-clad goddess. That is where snuggling came in for us. It was no longer something I had to do with my body to care for anyone else; this was something I needed for myself, and that shifted my entire mindset about being touched.
I remember reading a statistic that I will now butcher, but you will still get the point that was being made. Essentially, it said that most married couples no longer kissed each other for more than two seconds at a time. The daily stress of life and family meant that partners were now relegated to giving each other pecks goodbye as if kissing a relative and not the person that they are in love with. It challenged couples to just hug for 15 seconds or kiss for 15 seconds, whatever felt easiest at first. The first few seconds felt silly, like ugh, why am I even doing this, it doesn’t matter. But then, that feeling I mentioned before, the calmness, started creeping in. When the 15 seconds were over, I remember feeling disappointed. Like, wait a damn minute, I really enjoyed that. My partner was holding me, and I was holding him. We made an effort to do that more often. We began to snuggle every single morning but found we were running late for work because we waited until our alarms went off, signaling to us it was time to get ready. So, instead, we started setting alarms for 15–20 minutes before we needed to get up, and that time is now our designated snuggle time. This allows us to start the morning off feeling connected and excited. Added bonus, my husband started getting up to make my coffee every morning, too. Can I get an amen?! After work, we would feel so worn down that we started to snuggle as a way to decompress. Do you know what added bonus happened then? After a few moments of calm, we started to talk more. We talked about our day, how we were feeling, things we were wanting to do, and more. Again, we felt closer than ever because not only were we physically connecting, but it was helping us to emotionally connect more as well.
I know there will be some couples where this isn’t practical or even possible. But I wanted to share what worked for us. Maybe this will encourage you to try the 15-second hugs or kisses, even if the three times a day horizontal human origami isn’t possible. The point is to find a small way to treat each other like the partners you are instead of roommates. And hey, if other configurations happen because of it, well what can I say except you’re welcome.