Hug it out!

The power of spoken language is both widely recognized and well-documented. Throughout recorded history great orators have risen to the pinnacle of society relying solely upon their powers of persuasion, but it doesn’t take a history book to confirm the influence words can have in our lives.

Consider marriage… from the initial pick-up line to the proposal, from the wedding vows to the first argument, matrimony is decidedly framed by rhetoric (both good and bad).

Ask any married person you know, and they will tell you that arguing is just part of the game. In America, where the divorce rate is currently hovering between 40 & 50 percent, matrimonial discord is a hot-button issue. The market for marriage counselors and other third party discussion facilitators is booming – even in the current economic climate. The need for such entities however is not particularly surprising when one takes a look at the linguistic facts.

According to Dr. Luann Brizendine, a San Francisco neuropsychiatrist who studies gender differences in the human brain, the centers of a brain which deal with emotional perception and language are both much more active in women than in men – causing females to crave verbal communication in relationships. Brizendine’s study showed that women use approximately 20,000 words per day on average, compared to the 7,000 spoken by their male counterparts. This data suggests that the playing field is therefore far from even when it comes to lover’s quarrels between heterosexual couples.

But don’t worry men – all is not lost! Just because your wife or girlfriend may be able to talk emotional circles around you doesn’t mean you are without recourse. What is this magical tool you ask… a long tight HUG. According to Brizendine’s research, women’s brains are also programmed to release oxytocin in response to a hug of 20 seconds or longer – which both triggers the brain’s trust circuits and creates a bond between the hug participants. This means that whatever words you chose afterwards (few as they may be) they are much more likely to be well received. So just remember guys… if you sense an emotional storm brewing – go in for a hug and count to twenty before you begin negotiations.


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