Family Hugs


Erich comes from a large extended family: sixteen siblings (his grandma and great aunts and uncles), their children (his mom and her cousins), their children’s children (he and his brothers and cousins), and now the spouses of those children (me!). This past weekend, we got together with that side of the family for the first time since our marriage.

We were greeted with many congratulations, and then this phenomenon occurred: they would pump Erich’s arm, then turn to me. “Okay, this is a hand-shaking family,” I thought, and stuck out my hand. They ignored it and went for the bear hug. It cracked me up: every single time, they shook Erich’s hand, the guy they’ve known since he wore diapers, and hugged me, the newbie.

From a couple conversations with other people, it seems that it’s typical to give handshakes to guys and hugs to girls. Who knew? To me, hand shaking was for formal relationships, hugging for family and friends. I tend to hug everybody, regardless of gender, and the guys I know go in for the hug too. I come from a family who hugs or gives one of those “manly handshake hugs” — you know, the firm clasp that pulls in for the hug and a couple slaps on the back. The only person in my family who I don’t hug is my sister who hates hugs. I’ve started giving her fist bumps instead.

Have you witnessed this handshake for guys, hugs for girls phenomenon? What is your family’s “hug-style”?

// We’re still searching for an apartment, a stressful situation which is requiring more intentional love than I expected!

4 thoughts on “Family Hugs

  1. Korie

    My mom’s family, whom we see often, neither hugs nor shakes hands. We just say hello, though the men may shake hands. My immediate family isn’t physically affectionate at all.

    My husband’s extended family? They are cheek-kissers! I hug them and receive the cheek kisses, but I just can’t bring myself to return them.


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