Health

Valentine’s Day: What’s love got to do with health?

In just a few days, on February 14th, it will be Valentine’s Day. In ancient Rome the festival of the Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15; the festival involved fertility rites and honored the two Roman gods Juno and Pan. In just a few days, on February 14th, it will be Valentine’s Day. In ancient Rome the festival of the Lupercalia was celebrated on February 15; the festival involved fertility rites and honored the two Roman gods Juno and Pan. In modern times it is customary to exchange cards and other gifts with loved ones, close friends, and family members on February 14. Ironically, the holiday apparently has no connection with the Christian martyr of 3rd century except that their feast days also are celebrated on February 14, which was dropped from the Roman Catholic calendar in 1969.

Kahlil Gibran, (1883 – 1931) “The Vision”
Life without love is like a tree without blossoms or fruit.
But what is love, and what has it got to do with health?

According to the Merriam
Webster dictionary, it is defined as:

1 a (1) : strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties (2) : attraction based on sexual desire : affection and tenderness felt by lovers (3) : affection based on admiration, benevolence, or common interests b : an assurance of love

2 : warm attachment, enthusiasm, or devotion

3 a : the object of attachment, devotion, or admiration b (1) : a beloved person : DARLING — often used as a term of endearment (2) British — used as an informal term of address

4 a : unselfish loyal and benevolent concern for the good of another: as [gender specific language given] (1) : the fatherly concern of God for humankind (2) : brotherly concern for others b : a person’s adoration of GodLove.

Romantic Love: By definition, love can be the romantic affection experienced for another person, such as that we express on Valentines Day. Studies have shown that those in committed relationships, specifically marriage, tend to live longer. “When you feel loved, nurtured, cared for, supported, and intimate, you are much more likely to be happier and healthier. You have a much lower risk of getting sick and, if you do, a much greater chance of surviving (Dean Ornish, M.D.)”

Researchers who study romantic relationships have mentioned respect as a factor contributing to relationship success, but little effort has been made to define respect, measure it, or discover how it relates to other relationship constructs. In research conducted by Jennifer R. Frei and Phillip R. Shaver from the University of California, Davis, with 189 students respect was a key factor of close/committed relationships. The following are key responses to identifying the nature of respect in a close relationship:
Having moral qualities
Considerate
Accepting other
Honest
Listening
Inspiring
Member of a respectworthy social category (not defined)
Trustworthy and reliable
Caring
Understanding and
empathetic
Admirable talents/skills
Mutuality
Loyal
Respecting other’s views
Not abusive
Open and receptive
Sensitive to feelings
Open communication
Showing Interest
Not judgmental
Helpful

Dean Ornish, M.D., has also served as a pioneer in this work. In his book, Love and Survival, the Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy (HarperCollins, 1998), he reports on many such studies. For example, he helped conduct a study at Yale that involved 119 men and 40 women undergoing coronary angiography. Those who felt the most loved and supported had substantially less blockages in their heart arteries than the other subjects. In a related study, researchers looked at almost 10 thousand married men with no prior history of angina. These men had high levels of risk factors, such as elevated cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, and electrocardiogram abnormalities. Those who felt their wives did not show them love experienced almost twice as much angina as

February 10, 2003
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