- Gentlemen, start your drones: Judge’s ruling opens door for commercial use
- Soldier who hid, bragged about not saluting flag to be punished — in secret
- ‘Maverick’ of the seas: ‘Top Gun’ school for U.S. ship officers to launch
- Putin declares Sochi Paralympics open amid Ukrainian protest
- ‘In Jesus name, we pray’ sparks ire at Ohio council meeting
- Navy’s first laser weapon ready for prime time; drone killer to deploy this summer
- Billionaire backer: Rick Santorum ‘needs to be heard’ in 2016
- Obamacare fallout: 49 percent pessimistic; 45 percent ‘scared’
- DHS accused of holding U.S. citizen at airport, using emails to pry into her sex life
- Seattle socialist: Minimum-wage discussion skewed by ‘right-wing’ GAO analysis
WETZSTEIN: Love and compassion needed to survive
Easter Sunday is a day to reflect on love. Birds are chirping. Flowers are blooming. Easter bunnies are hopping. Church bells are ringing.
In too many places, however, people who love each other are not rejoicing. Couples are fighting. Friends who need comfort are ignored. Family members who long to connect are being scolded or sent away in tears.
If love relationships are all-important to people, why are they so hard to keep alive and well? The short answer is we are still on a learning curve about the power of love.
Religion already knows love is important, and, thankfully, science is finally coming to the same conclusion. Brain research is encountering a veritable explosion of evidence that human beings are hard-wired to connect, and that love — call it attachment, affection, or "a funny five minutes" as the mother of author and therapist Sue Johnson once dubbed it — is an essential and explainable element of human life.
Bottom line, as our understanding of love grows, we should become more competent in expressing and maintaining it in our intimate, familial and personal relationships. This, in turn, should reduce both family breakdown and the terrible loneliness that is spreading like a cancer through American society.
My inspirations about love came from a speech Ms. Johnson gave in the District recently at the Psychotherapy Networker Symposium, which was attended by 3,600 therapists.
Ms. Johnson is a clinical psychologist based in Ottawa. She is known for her lively English accent, clever stories about love and her co-development of a successful approach to couples therapy, called Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT).
Ms. Johnson wrote a book last year called "Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love," to help struggling couples pull themselves out of their relationship hells.
Her advice to couples can be summarized like this:
First, understand both of you have an inborn and lifelong need to be seen, touched, recognized and comforted by others.
Love is "absolutely primary … it's a survival code," Ms. Johnson told me recently. All people long for a "loving responsiveness from other people," whereas isolation is traumatizing at any age, she said.
Second, understand that at the bottom of each argument, each rejection, each nasty comment is a frustrated desire to connect or reconnect.
When couples feel distant from each other, it's like "emotional starvation," Ms. Johnson said. If people sense they are losing the source of their emotional sustenance, panic sets in and they desperately try to regain it.
Unfortunately, she said, men and women often turn to counterproductive ways to re-establish connection — clinging, stonewalling, attacking, defending, nagging, hiding. The result is even more distance and disconnection, she wrote.
EFT, however, introduces couples to "effective dependency" and shows them that as they learn to hear their mutual pleas for closeness, safety and affirmation, their love relationships will heal, deepen and thrive. Even the joy of sex can return.
EFT has a better-than-70 percent recovery rate in less than 12 sessions with couples, according to research.
The importance of learning how to nurture love cannot be overestimated, "because our societies are getting lonelier and lonelier," she said.
The Dalai Lama said it well, Ms. Johnson added, quoting the Tibetan Buddhist leader: "Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive."
• Cheryl Wetzstein can be reached at email@example.com.
About the Author
Cheryl Wetzstein covers family and social issues as a national reporter for The Washington Times. She has been a reporter for three decades, working in New York City and Washington, D.C. Since joining The Washington Times in 1985, she has been a features writer, environmental and consumer affairs reporter, and assistant business editor.
Beginning in 1994, Mrs. Wetzstein worked exclusively ...
- Stricter standards force abortion clinics to close
- Public accommodations provision in Md. transgender rights bill draws outcry
- German home-school family can stay in U.S. indefinitely
- U.S. Supreme Court declines German home-school case
- Medical facility 'buffer-zone' law in court
Latest Blog Entries
- Gay therapy ban author seeks Calif. House seat
- Transgender 'bathroom law' gets 5,000 more signatures
- Pro-life, stem-cell bill signed into law by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback
- N. Dakota lawmakers approve tough abortion bill
- Pope Benedict XVI's successor should allow priests to get a new title: Husband, poll finds
TWT Video Picks
Taxpayers must pay the freight for over-budget train projects
- Kim Jong-un calls for execution of 33 Christians
- Rand Paul wins 2014 CPAC straw poll, Ted Cruz finishes a distant second
- SAUERBREY: Taxing Marylanders until they flee
- U.S. pilot scares off Iranians with 'Top Gun'-worthy stunt: 'You really ought to go home'
- Bill Clinton cashes in on struggling nonprofit hospital
- Bill Clinton poses for photo with Bunny Ranch prostitutes
- CPAC 2014 straw poll results
- Senate Democrats, Republicans spar over restoring unemployment benefits
- 'Blarney Blowout' near UMass results in 73 arrests; 4 officers injured
- Russias Putin nominated for Nobel Peace Prize
Pope Francis meets his 'mini-me'
Celebrity deaths in 2014
Winter storm hits states — again