In an earlier post, I presented a list I compiled of 50 things that make me feel good. In a moment lacking inspiration, with over thirty minutes of my daily writing time still to fill, I needed something to go on—I found a middle school prompt that I initially thought would take mere minutes, but required the rest of my writing time for the day to complete. To expand on this writing project, I began an effort to discuss each of the 50 entries, and this post is a result of that project. Read the list at the original post, here.
There is a book that I highly value, called The Love Dare, written by Stephen and Alex Kendrick. The book is faith-based, but I’d encourage even the secular reader not to allow the faith-based nature of the book to deter them from reaping the rewards of the insight contained in the pages. The Love Dare is about making our relationships better with genuine love and affection, which I only mention in the course of this post because they deal with the idea of touch in a relationship quite a bit throughout the book.
At first, I did not want to write this post as much as I wanted to write the others in this series. It is not because I don’t feel “my wife’s hand rubbing against my back” earned a place on my list. This genuinely makes me feel good, and even as I write, I feel it belongs on the list as much as or more than the other forty-nine things. However, the task of writing about how this makes me feel good felt daunting. I thought, “What am I going to write? She rubs my back, I like it, end of story.” Since dealing with why it makes me feel good wasn’t going to be as easy as it has been in the other posts, I was tempted to put it off as long as possible.
Of course, it was as I was acknowledging the honest reason I was avoiding the task that it became clear to me. I had already done extensive reading on the very reason it feels so good to have the simple touch of my wife’s hand rubbing against my back. However, I hadn’t realized it. The dots hadn’t connected, if you will.
In The Love Dare, the Kenrick’s spend a lot of time talking about touch. When they discuss the act of touch, such as my wife rubbing her hand against my back, they argue that the way couples interact through touch itself tells a lot about where they are at emotionally in their relationship. They discuss how the presence or absence of touch speaks volumes. For example, when we greet our wife or husband, our love can actually be shown through the act of touching in some way. In the Kendricks’ estimation, the value we place on our spouse can be extended via touch because it makes that value known not only to us, but to them as well. One of the challenges extended to us in the book is to actively engage in touch, which leads me to assume that the Kendrick’s believe touch alone can have a powerful impact on a relationship.
The slightly comical news piece above discusses touch briefly, in a more secular way. ABC News and Diane Sawyer pair up with Dr. Matthew Hertenstein to discuss the power of touch, and while perhaps they focus too long on the idea of using touch to “get what we want,” they make some powerful points about touch in general. The most powerful point I feel Dr. Hertenstein makes is that touch is “about relating to people.” Well, it is. Even more so, he delivers this shocking piece of information:
“We are one of the lowest contact cultures in the world…we are really a touch averse culture.”
This all comes full circle to the entire point of my post. “My wife’s hand rubbing against my back” is a part of my list of “50 things that make me feel good” because it’s not only about the physical contact. The friction of her hand against my back might be a pleasurable physical experience of the nonsexual variety, but at the end of the day, that isn’t the real why behind why this particular experience makes the list. There is something more happening in this act of touch.
It makes me feel good because it is one way my wife signals that she loves me. It tells me that she values me. She cherishes connection with me. All of this is expressed in a simple act—her hand rubbing across my back. The beautiful thing about this post is that writing it has forced me to recognize how valuable this simple action is in our relationship. While I likely appreciated the action at the superficial level before, I am bound to appreciate it in a more deep and genuine way now that I’ve been forced to hash it out.
One of the reasons I extended my original list of “50 things that make me feel good” into a full writing project is because I wanted to have topics to write about. However, another reason is that as I grow older, I realize my writing is not simply about spewing out ideas onto an unassuming and vulnerable public, but it is about using the action of writing to discover new ideas and revelations about myself. Writing itself is an act of exploration. This means that my faithful readers are all on this adventure with me, especially when it comes to discussing in detail the “50 things that make me feel good.”