When you reunite after having been apart, even for a short time, greet each other with enthusiasm, as a dog might greet his beloved owner. Be playful, excited, and grateful that your beloved has reunited with you. Stop what you’re doing, engage in a full body hug (stomach to stomach) for 10 seconds or more and say “I’m so glad you’re home” or “I’m so glad to be home.”
I was attending a conference on couples counseling and attachment theory. The presenter was quite engaging and made an off-handed comment about a couple with whom she was working. She said that the wife claims that when her husband comes home from work, he greets the dog more enthusiastically than he greets her.
Sadly, I was able to imagine the same for myself. There have been days when I would come home and greet my dog Hickory with energetic abandon but greet Daniel with only a cursory ‘hi’.
Compare these two greetings:
Me: “Hey buddy! How’s my handsome boy?”
Him: He wags his tail good naturedly, jumps on me, licks my face, and beckons me to the floor where I rub his belly and laugh while he kicks his legs.
Me: “Hi – did you pay the mortgage? It’s due tomorrow.”
Him: Silence. “Uhh, I thought you were taking care of it.”
Yep, guilty. And so, after some reflection, one crisp Autumn afternoon I decided to give Daniel a complete puppy welcome. He drove into the driveway and rather than wait for him to enter the house, which would be customary, I bound out the front door, ran to him (he was now standing beside his car), and I leapt up and onto him, wrapping my legs around his waist (fortunately he caught me). He began to laugh as I kissed his face with multiple kisses.
At that precise moment, our neighbor across the street appeared at the end of his driveway. This curmudgeonly neighbor, a man whom we had hardly ever seen in three years, came out at the precise moment that I was wrapped around Daniel like a koala bear on a tree. “Maybe you’d better take it inside,” he barked.
And so we did.
The purpose of this this sort of greeting is to break us out of the cycle of routine, dulled reunions. When we greet our beloved with a recognition of how precious they are to us, we feel more connected and they feel more beloved. Hugging lowers our stress response and stimulates release of the ‘bonding’ chemical, oxytocin. Do this everyday and you’ll begin to feel less stressed and more loved.
Expcerpted from the Newsletter,
Ashley Davis Bush, LCSW is the author of