Friday, 19 August 2011

The Message of the Massage

No more convincing evidence of the absence of parental affection exists than that compiled by Rene Spitz. In a South American orphanage, Spitz observed and recorded what happened to 97 children who were deprived of emotional and physical contact with others. Only twenty one of the 97 survived most suffering serious psychological damage. Numerous studies have produced similar results.

Psychologist Dr. Robert W. Hatfield says that "affectionate touch is vital for all human ages" for survival, development and peace.

Physical touch can be a great way to affirm your partner, your love, and your commitment. Sometimes in a relationship, one person appreciates physical contact more than the other person. This can cause some feelings of rejection if the other partner does not want to hold hands in public or sit close together on the couch. Physical touch does not always have to be sexual. Instead, it can include holding hands, giving a hug, or back massage. Think about how much you and your partner touch each other.

A number of years ago Gary Chapman wrote a book called Love Languages. Touch was one of five primary languages that he identified. Perhaps you or your spouse came from a family that was very “huggy” thus it is how you feel loved. Perhaps you or your spouse was a “touch-deprived” child and long for the reassurance that a loving touch can bring. Regardless of the reason these individuals require a “high-touch” environment to thrive.

God obviously thinks touch is vitally important to life and human relationships. God is the one who invented sex. He is the one who demonstrates through the plethora of studies of touch-deprived children that touch is crucial for not only the survival of children but their development as well. Children who fail to receive adequate touch often traverse adolescence depressed, anxious, angry and unhappy, according to a study by Bowlby and Ainsworth.

Talk to your partner about what he or she likes. Some like to cuddle, some like to hold hands. Be willing to offer a back massage or give a foot rub. Have your partner communicate what feels good and what doesn’t. Experiment with other things such as a hand massage or neck rub too.

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