Friday, December 28, 2007

The superglue touch

A reader sent me a link to this excellent article, which I strongly recommend to all unmarried ladies and mothers of teenage or young adult unmarried daughters. It talks about the role of physical touch in relationships, looking for a spouse, creating intimacy and preparing for marriage – from a Jewish perspective; however, I'm certain that non-Jews can enjoy it and benefit from it as well.

The bottom line is something I strongly believe in: touch plays a very important part in enhancing intimacy in marriage. However, touch can also act like superglue, creating a powerful emotional connection between two people who are incompatible and would never decide to start a relationship if they hadn't given in to physical attraction and lust.

Besides creating a deceptive bond of illusionary and premature intimacy, touch can also interfere with building a real connection of minds and hearts, which is so crucial to making a wise decision about whom you are going to marry. When the physical side enters a relationship prematurely, it often distracts you from thinking rationally about your degree of compatibility. It can create a euphoria that will prevent you from finding out truly important details about your potential spouse.

That's why it's so important to avoid premature touch and reserve physical intimacy for the right person only. And how do we know it's not premature? When do we know for sure we have, indeed, met the right person? In my opinion, the answer is obvious: only after you are married. Not a second before you have a ring on your finger.

"...Before you let the physical side enter, develop a relationship that stands on its own two feet -- a true soul-to-soul connection. Once that relationship is truly solid -- after marriage -- the physical side will be a beautiful and powerful expression of what you have. There's a big difference between letting sexuality determine an illusory connection and letting it express a real one. Before you give someone the opportunity to appreciate your body, let him or her have the chance to appreciate you for who you truly are. That's the kind of bond that lasts."

Of course, there's a common objection – how will we know if sex will be good if we don't try it out first? Human beings are not cars, though. We don't need a test drive.

"...In essence, when you have a healthy attitude toward sexual expression, love each other, are committed to each other, and want to bring each other pleasure, you have nothing to worry about."

"...It is crucial to maintain your objectivity, avoid emotional scarring, and build a genuine spiritual bond with your partner. Refraining from getting physical accomplishes this. It helps you find the right person and leaves you whole and able to create a deep, trusting, and loving relationship that will last a lifetime."

20 comments:

Karen said...

Speaking as the mother of two teenaged children, I agree wholeheartedly with both your comments and the comments in the article. Oddly enough though, I think we warn our daughters but not our sons so much about this. And, I ask, who would be touching our daughters but someone else's son?

Sis. Julie said...

This is an AWESOME post!! We are teaching our children that a NO TOUCH rule (which is taught in God's Word) is God's rule...not our rule. My husband and I know what touching one another (even in holding hands) can do to a person's hormone level and how it progresses little by little. We are not so strong to resist the temptation to commit fornication with someone. And that temptation becomes stronger when that slightest touch takes place. We also believe that for the couple who is COURTING...they should NEVER be left alone together. And it should be with others that believe in the courtship as strongly and the same way as the parents and the couple that are courting. Accountability is key!!

I feel very strongly about this subject and only would have loved to have been saved earlier in life and known about God's teachings in this subject. What a wonderful thing to be able to save every part of yourself for your spouse....right down the first touch and the first kiss.

Anna S said...

Karen: 99% of this blog's readers are women, and in general I write mostly for women, but OF COURSE men should be no less committed to chastity.

Julie: remaining alone together in a secluded place is something we see as prohibited, as well as touching.

Terry said...

I can personally attest to the wisdom of this post and we are teaching our daughters these principles as well.

Jennifer said...

Thanks Anna, a great post and an interesting article. Totally applicable to non-Jews. One of the stumbling blocks I see in our modern American culture is that marrying young is so frowned upon. My husband and I "dated" (in quotes because we knew we wanted to marry from the beginning, having almost a year talking together a lot) for more than 4 years before we married, and still we got the feedback that we were too young. I think it's unlikely that a person who marries at 30 or later will have held out for that long, yet they feel they will be considered foolish if they marry young. I hope we remember this when our kids are that age - I'm sure it's scary to let your kids make that commitment too. I love the idea of courtship - totally unknown to me at that age, but somehow my husband and I managed to come close to it based on our own convictions.

Anyway, thanks for yet another post that shows how similar the concerns of Orthodox Jews and Christians are. I already knew this, as I live in an area with many Orthodox Jews, but I thank you for providing this interesting cross-cultural connection.

Have a great day!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Anna, for the post and the link to the article. All of the ideas expressed in the article and your post have been rolling around in my thoughts for months, and I have not been able to articulate them nearly half as well. I truly appreciate the work and time you take to make this blog. It is a refreshing breeze of hope in this stale world.
Jen in OK

Karen said...

I agree. I was told once when I was a single person that any amount of affection is too far. I thought that was too strict, too prudish, just crazy. Nobody did that! But it was true!

Affection is like super glue, and causes a lot of people to stay in bad relationships much longer than they should. It can blind you to someone's flaws until it's too late.

And yeah, the whole "test driving" thing. That is nutty. It can't be that bad! And it does get better. Personally if it were a choice between a bad lover and someone who isn't spiritually, emotionally, or mentally compatible with me, I'd choose the former. Thankfully it wasn't a choice I had to make haha.

Kelly said...

Wow great article. I never used to think much about casual touching and it's impact. Now with my daughter I'm really thinking of these things.

Mrs. Brigham said...

This article was a wonderful read, and these thoughts are certainly something that I will be teaching Peapod from her very earliest learning days.

Rebekah S. said...

I agree with this post wholeheartedly. It's SOOO crucial that we obey the Lord's commands to remain pure.

Calamity Jean said...

I agree that physical purity is very important in relationships. I do think that sometimes there is so much emphasis on what not to do being preached to young teens that it results in kids dwelling on the temptation or lack thereof. Does that even make sense?

Olivia said...

I completely agree with you! A friend and I were talking about this very subject tonight and we came to the same conclusion. I just recently found your blog and am enjoying it. Thanks.
~Olivia

Jimena said...

Thank you for the link Anna, I was going to ask you for such links. There are many link about Judaism out there, but I was wondering which ones you recommend. Blessings...

Ellie said...

Anna,

Great post! I think that this is something that needs to be talked about more. I second so many things mentioned in the article. My husband and I really got to know each other very well before we even held hands! So many of my friends thought that this was silly, since we were in our mid-twenties. But, we knew each other well before we let any physical intimacy cloud our judgement. Also, this path led us to develop other bonds: intellectual, spiritual, etc. I can honestly say that I fell in love with my husband's soul, mind, and personality first.

~Ellie

Kristi said...

I agree completely that it is important to keep the physical part of a relationship strictly for marriage. I had been in a relationship before my husband where we held hands and kissed a few times, and as time went on, conflict arose between me an my parents (they were not certain this was the right man for me). They asked me to come home (I was living in a different state) but my heart was so emotionally attached to this man that I couldn't see straight and this caused much strain in my relationship both with the young man and with my parents. I am thankful for the grace of God that He got me out of that situation and showed me where I had been wrong.

When my husband and I started courting, we talked about what the physical side of our relationship was going to be. We had both heard a teaching on courtship where the teacher really emphasized "hands off" until your wedding, and because of the experience I'd had before this, I could see the value of what he said. We agreed that we would be 'hands off', with the only exception of holding hands praying with a group of people (not by ourselves). We did that and it was truly a blessing. We have no regrets. We were able to get to know each other and have our relationship cemented in our mutual faith and real friendship.

Serena said...

Excellent post, Anna! I haven't read the article yet, but you've said it all, I think!

Emily (Unfurling Flower) said...

Fantastic quotes, Anna, I so agree! I love this especially: "Before you let the physical side enter, develop a relationship that stands on its own two feet -- a true soul-to-soul connection."
And Happy New Year!

Ahuva said...

Excellent post. I just hope that we're able to emphasize to our children that touch is something special to be saved for marriage-- not that touch/sex/relationships are "bad" since that could lead to problems later on.

You hear all kinds of horror stories about religious girls that are afraid of boys and sex, and I think that's a terrible tragedy. The physical aspect of a marriage is a wonderful gift from G-d.

Rina said...

Mrs. Anna,
I've been enjoying your blog for a little while now and was going through your archive today and found this post. This article brings up some wonderful points... I've felt much the same way for a while now, but have a very difficult time practicing this, especially in America where it's difficult to avoid the "friendly hug" when meeting with friends and their husbands. I'm not sure if you ever deal with this, living in Israel, but if you do - how do you respond when someone goes to shake your hand or give you a hug? How do you politely ask them not to do this, when it's seen by others as a courtesy? On a different, but somewhat similar, note I recently posted some information on my blog regarding touch and infant to parent bonding. I know you're expecting your first baby soon, so I thought you might find it interesting. You can read it at http://intostillwaters.com/2008/12/08/bonding-with-babies/

Blessings!
Rina

åslaug abigail said...

THIS is SUCH a neat post =)
I read the article, and I loved it!

I remember reading about couples not even holding hands while being engaged, and I remember (this was in high school) thinking they had to be really weird... But that's a long time ago now, and I'm getting married any time this summer/fall, and guess what? I'm one of those people who "don't believe in tickling before marriage". How good the Lord is!! And I've realised that all the observations in that article is true, you DO grow a strong emotional, spiritual, personal bond when you don't touch, and you get a chance to think objectively.

It's a good question that Rina had about how to avoid those courtesy hugs without being downright rude (which you don't really want to be..). I'd like to know that. Any tips??