Does the Six-Second Kiss Challenge Really Work?


Well-known couples’ therapist John Gottman suggests a simple way that spouses can stay connected to one another: share a daily six-second kiss. Not just a peck on the cheek or lips, but a slower, more deliberate smooch. “Long enough to feel romantic,” says Gottman.

For the past two weeks, my husband Dan and I tried the six-second kiss every day – here’s what it was like.

As embarrassing as it is to say, the biggest challenge was remembering to “do” the kiss! More often than not, the day was over and we were in bed before one of us would say, “Uh-oh! We forgot the kiss!” After all, research is research — not to be skipped or neglected.

This makes us sound like total non-romantics, and yes, after several years of marriage we’re well past the honeymoon stage. It’s not that we don’t enjoy being with each other — we very much do. But it was eye-opening to discover how easily our days tick by without intentionally turning to each other and looking deeply into one another’s eyes and saying, “I see you. I’m with you. How are you?”

Indeed, even one six-second kiss per day gave us a nice opportunity to be mindful of each other and fully present to each other. For that little snippet of time, we were each other’s center of attention, and it was wonderful. It reminded us of the bond we have together, different from any other relationship in our lives. As Gottman says, it’s a “kiss with potential.”

Gottman often touts the six-second kiss as an ideal part of every couple’s leaving or reuniting ritual. (“Rituals of connection” are big for him.) “Don’t leave home without a kiss that lasts six seconds,” he says. And on the other end of the day, greeting your spouse with a six-second kiss provides a loving transition into togetherness.

For us, we didn’t use the kiss in this way. We do make sure to have at least a quick kiss and hug before parting for the day, but this experiment sparked ideas on other ways to reconnect, especially by incorporating a ritual of connection at the end of the day. For us, quality couple time generally happens in the evening, and lately, we’ve enjoyed a mixed drink together (I’m trying to expand my repertoire) and conversation beyond the practical. The kiss could be part of that but also served as a reminder to carve out this intentional time for each other.

The six-second kiss was always, always worth it. Even when it felt like it came as the only slowed-down expression of physical affection that day, it was always a good moment. This makes sense on multiple levels, including the biological: kissing lowers cortisol levels (the stress hormone) and elevates oxytocin (the bonding hormone) and dopamine (the happy hormone) levels. Sounds like a great combination to me!

And of course there’s more to it than the chemical: kissing is such a quintessential part of love and romance. What romantic movie doesn’t end with a kiss, one that’s anticipated for practically the entire script? My personal favorite is from the end of The Princess Bride, complete with a sunset and white horses. It’s described this way in William Goldman’s fabulous book: “Since the invention of the kiss, there have been five kisses that have been rated the most passionate, the purest. This one left them all behind.” Swoon!

In short, trying to incorporate a six-second kiss into our day was a very worthwhile experiment. I think we’ll keep it up!

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