Sunday, September 16, 2012

Relationship Tip of the Week #95-The Challenge of caring-Part 3

The Roots of Caring

Why does it seem so difficult to care for your partner in a long term relationship when that was all you wanted to do when you first met and couldn't do enough for each other?

In the initial stage of a relationship, we want to be close, love and be loved, care for and be cared for; so naturally we put our best foot forward. We minimize differences and maximize similarities. As our relationship progresses, we notice our differences more, we now feel constraints on our individual needs that had moved to the background as the couple's needs were the priority for both members.
We feel ourselves being more critical of some of what we consider our partner's shortcomings. As in social dancing, it is almost impossible, to dance so close without at some point stepping on each other's toes or hurting one another in some way at some point. This causes us to step back from one another and become more cautious and less trusting. Unfortunately,this is a natural process and has to happen when our differences collide as we attempt to navigate the challenges of living together.
Now we are more likely to keep score of who is caring for whom and our list of resentments begins to lengthen which makes it more difficult to give freely.

All of the above is also effected by our own childhood experience of being cared for by our parents or caregivers as well as our experience of being neglected. What did your parents teach you about relationships?
Were you indulged and grew up expecting that relationship were about you receiving?
Were you neglected and learned to take care of your own needs?
Were you taught that it was your responsibility to take care of your parents as their needs were more important than yours?
Were you taught the importance reciprocal relationships?-The need to give and receive

Next Week-How to care for your partner so she/he feel cared for.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Relationship Tip of the Week #94-The Challenge of Caring-part 2

What to do when you do not feel cared for by your partner?

It is very difficult to be a caring partner when you do not experience some form of reciprocity. Unfortunately, sharing this information with one's spouse often leads to defensiveness or an argument and it becomes easier to avoid such discussions which then leads to resignation, disappointment and disconnection

Here are my four suggestions to remedy this challenge:

1) Utilize the soft start up and say something like." I know that you care about me and love me. I would like to ask you to consider adding a daily hug and a weekly date night(or fill in your need for these two behaviors) for us to the ways in which you express your caring to me.

2) Invite your partner to have a discussion about the ways in which you each feel cared for. Let him/her go first and listen in a non-defensive manner. When it is your turn, attempt to say everything in a positive way(what you want) and avoid negative or attacking comments(what you do not want)

3) If you have not made any progress, suggest to your partner that you sign up for my year long program in gift giving in order to strengthen your relationship. If he/she appears resistant, suggest that you can do it for a few weeks and then both evaluate whether it is helpful so your partner does not feel trapped.
You can do this by emailing me at and requesting to participate.

4) If this does not work, sign up for the course and model it for your partner and ask after a month if she/he is feeling cared for by you. This is the hardest to do but often has the most profound effect since it shows you are ready to care even if your partner is not able.

Next Week: Exploring the Roots of Caring

Relationally Yours,