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Dec 13, 2011

The Quest for Intimacy

Friends, I have learned a valuable lesson from the culmination of my family and philosophical classes this semester, and the greatest influence for this discovery has been brought on by this Marriage and Family Class. Thank You Brother Williams, and all my other instructors. My whole perspective on life has changed.

What gives us our drive, our quest and our tenacity to go forward? It has been brought to my attention that man's ultimate drive, or what makes the human race tick, is their quest for intimacy, with other people, with things, with knowledge, and with experience. This understanding explains almost every behavior that people make and it shocked me when I made the connection.

Let me explain...

This is a difficult concept to explain, yet in all of people’s behavior, the examples are manifest. Intimacy is connected in a direct cycle with interest and love. Scientist who are on the cutting edge of technology and artist who develop great works and ideas, all have a profound love for what they are accomplishing. Because of their love they ask questions and dive into their field with questions like, how are these two equations related, or how can I arrange these notes to convey this feeling. They are combining things that aren’t necessarily related, but once put together, create something better and new. The discovery is loved, and that in turn leads to new questions, and a genuine interest in the subject further.
            Is this quest of intimacy limited to the devoted scientist or artist? No. To relate it more to the common man, every person is attracted in some way to another human being. We see it every day, boy meets girl. They are two different entities. They date and fall in love, are intimate, and eventually create…children. In completing the intimacy cycle of creation, most couples who chose not to have children according to a sociological study, feel they have lost their sense of purpose as they age and feel that they have lost the greatest contribution that they could make to society. When man and wife are not intimate on all three levels of physical, emotional and committal levels they cannot achieve a consummate love relationship and often the rearing of the children does not occur in the correct manor.  The child’s understanding and ability to be properly intimate and bring and rear life, is then stifled or distorted and falters.
            The breaking of this cycle of intimacy is the cause of what most of society deems as bad behavior. The “bad behavior” is by no means a healthy replacement for true intimacy, but it temporarily fills the large void left by the lack of connection. If the intimacy needs of an individual are not met, then they look elsewhere for something to meet their needs. For example, Henry, age 17, feels that there is lack stability in his life. He may not understand this consciously, but subconsciously he is searching for something stable, loving and constant in his life. His father left his mother when he was 7 and his mother is always gone working to support the family, she feels frustrated and stressed most of the time, concerning money matters and so communication between the two of them is often angry or negative, and so he avoids his mother. Henry hates his situation and wants to leave the house. Henry‘s emotional, physical, and committal relationship with his mother is breaking down. As a result, Henry finds a group of friends who love him, accept him, understand how he feels, and have a strong commitment to one another. Henry has found and joined a gang, filling the void that has been created between him and his mother.
            If I were to include all of the examples of using “bad behavior” as a substitute for a lack of intimacy, I would have to fill a book. Some common substitutes may be: pornography, extramarital relationships, gaming, rape, and even distantly but still related are other crimes, even hard ones. However, we can differentiate between good and bad coping for a lack of intimacy if we relate it to the amount of truth that is involved in the action in the quest for intimacy. The “Truth” of the intimacy can be found in looking at the product of the intimacy. If you create sorrow, hurt, or emptiness for yourself and those around you over an extended period of time, you have engaged in a poor substitute for intimacy, rather than true intimacy.  In all intimacy there must be an element of control, or commitment associated. For example nuclear energy is creating by combining and splitting atoms within a certain environment. When it was first being discovered, the labs that were used did not understand how to contain or control it, because of its relatively new nature and was very harmful to people and the environment. However, now research has given us a way to contain it and harness it’s energy for many beneficial things, hence, it is now a beneficial creation.This also applies to families, relationships, and even academic study.
            On an even further note, man has this quest to be intimate with everything around him. Not just on the physical level. We have the desire to touch, to know, to understand, to see, to smell, to have truth, to discover and ultimately an intimate relationship with one another. Man truly will be fulfilled when he can learn to properly be intimate with the world around him, and can learn to create beneficial thoughts and things for those around them. With this grand and glorious idea, we have to remember that the creation must also have boundaries and rules, just like the ones that make the universe tick. Ultimately, if man has a desire for knowing the truth, then most people are searching to know and be one with God himself, without even knowing it. Not just knowing about Him, but understanding who He is, so that we might know and understand all things. 

God is Love, Charity, Truth, Light, Understanding. Love brings us together. Be there, Connect.

Blended Families: "Tips I wish I had known earlier!"

Something that is not well addressed in a many marriage and family classes, is the concept of step families, or blended families. Because of their nature of establishing "new boundaries" and readjusting many old family boundaries... making blended families work is NOT a walk in the park, but it is possible and can be very rewarding. My instructor is a member of a blended family, and here are some priceless tips that he wished he had known when he first got married. He mentioned it would have been a lot easier to parent and be a husband if he had known these things before.

#2- Remember it is easy to play the "cool parent" when we think that our spouses style of parenting is too strict and we intervene in front of the child. To intervene in front of the child is not wise. Take time before or after the encounter to discuss discipline so you are not surprised in the moment, and agree on what is permissible. Of course there are circumstances when you should intervene right then. If you can, gently ask your spouse aside so you may speak with them in private to remedy the problem.

#1- Discipline should be left up to the original parent of the children until trust and love has had time to be established. The children need time to establish a loving relationship with their new parent, so they can still trust and love them later when it is time for the new parent to be fully engaged in discipline. Otherwise, all the children will see is "no love and all discipline and restriction" They will become extremely defiant. The average time it takes to establish this love and trust relationship is about 2 years, so be patient. It may take more time for teenagers.

#3- Remember that as you are establishing your new boundaries as a family there are tons of extenuating associations to be aware, and sometimes wary of. There are the old spouses, the old mother-in-laws, and all the old family from previous marriages, and then there is a whole set of new family to get used to. Everyone has their opinions about the blending of the family too. If the messages that you are getting from your old extended family, or even new ones are hurting your new family, you may have to distance or even separate your family unit from them for a time. It is hard enough trying to establish this new unit by itself, but it can be disastrous if ill meaning extended family intervene or poison the children against a spouse. I have personally seen tragedy occur on this topic.

For more EXCELLENT information on Parenting in blended and non blended families look for these suggestions by my instructor, who has successfully counseled families for 20+ years:

Parenting with Love: Making a difference in a day by Glenn I. Latham is a short but very informative book for dealing with problem behaviors without accidently reinforcing the very behaviors we are seeking to improve. This is a particularly useful book for parents and grandparents of young children.
What a Parent to Do? Solving Family Problems in a Christlike Way by Glenn I. Latham is focused more on the specific challenges parents face when they perceive their teen or young adult children are veering away from the standards parents hold dear. This book challenges the parent to carefully examine and regulate his/her own behavior in a manner that will likely help to avoid many of the secondary problems of driving young people away in an attempt to correct their mistaken behavior. This book utilizes several effective references from LDS sources. Another version of the same book uses biblical references and forgoes the LDS specific quotes: Christlike Parenting. I prefer the former version, though the latter is still in print.
Each of these books are available for purchase online at Parenting with Love is available both as a download or in print; What's a Parent to Do? is currently available from the publishing online in as a PDF. But the book is still available used via or other online retailers. Christlike Parenting is available online, but also via other book retailers in print form.
Active Parenting of Teens (Parent's Guide), Third Edition, is the source for much of the information we used in class this week. His work for blended families is titled Active Parenting for Stepfamilies, and is very helpful as well. Dr. Popkins resources are available via