President’s Corner by Dr. Freda Bush
This month we celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb 14th. It is a great month for flowers and candy sales. Usually the emphasis is on romantic love, however, it will do us well to remember we all NEED relationship and love. “Science is increasingly demonstrating that the human person is hardwired to connect. A great deal of evidence shows that we are hardwired for close attachments to other people, beginning with our mothers, fathers and extended family, then moving out to the broader community”1 Studies of babies show that even if they have all their physical needs taken care of like food, clothes and shelter, but are not touched and cuddled and smiled at, they will fail to thrive and often die.2
Several years ago, Seventeen Magazine surveyed teen girls involved in “hooking up” relationships and found the majority agreed to it, but really desired intimacy. Webster defines intimacy as “warm friendship developed through long association”. Another misunderstood phrase is “making love” which usually is code for “having sex”. Medical Institute defines sex as bodily contact meant to give or derive sexual gratification. Though sex can be an expression of love, let’s be clear, having sex can be devoid of love and just a physical act for self-gratification. Love is the basis of relationship and intimacy.
Our lives begin and end with relationships. We need to be intentional about developing healthy ones. It is critically important to relationships to put a lot of time into them. There is also an order for developing relationships. Healthy intimate, romantic relationships begin with friendship before progressing to intimacy: physically, emotionally and spiritually. If a couple moves too fast or skips steps in the progression, the relationship may weaken or even break.
Dr. James Dobson lists 12 progressive steps to romantic intimacy. Details of these can be accessed at the link below,3&4but include 1. Eye to Body. 2. Eye to Eye. 3. Voice to Voice. 4. Hand to Hand. 5. Hand to Shoulder. 6. Hand to Waist. 7. Face to Face. 8. Hand to Head. 9-12. The Final Steps. The last levels of involvement are distinctly sexual and private.
As stated above, if we skip or rush through any one of the steps listed, especially # 1-8, we will not have good healthy romantic relationships. In family and friendships we also need to spend time getting to know each other and developing a relationship. In the absence of a romantic relationship, family and friendships can become even more important.
Our very nature is relational and thus, our relationships affect our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. The song, “No man is an Island” reminds us that “No man stands alone… We need one another…” This Valentine’s Day let us make relationships a priority, especially improving them. Send flowers or candy but be sure to invest time and smile.
1. Commission on Children at Risk, “Hardwired to Connect”, 2003
2. Johnson, et. Al. Trauma, Violence, Abuse, 2006.
3. Love for a Lifetime: Building a Marriage That Will Go the Distance (Dobson, James) Hardcover – March 9, 2004 http://www.erichstauffer.com/pop-culture/dr-james-dobsons-twelve-steps-of-intimacy
4. Real Essentials Medical Cessation, The Center for Relationship Education, 2015