COMFORT, NURTURE, and CAREGIVING
First in a four part series
Thought Question: “What are my childhood and adolescent memories of being comforted when I was in emotional pain?”
For 20-30% of us, we may have warm memories of being “known” deeply by a parent.
Parents who “got us” and had a deep understanding of what made us tick.
Through repeated experiences of soothing and nurture when we were distressed as well as celebrations when we were at the top of our game, we ended up internalizing those memories and we walked out of our homes with a secure attachment that made nurture and caregiving second nature to our relational repertoire.
For most of us however, coming up with a good answer is sketchy to say the least.
Most of us would think that we should be easily able to retrieve a positive response to this simple question.
Some have told us that this question haunted them for weeks as they scoured their memory banks searching in vain for a memory of emotional comfort.
While it is sad for many of us to admit that our childhood training did not equip us well to seek, give or receive comfort well, the good news is that our Lord is a redemptive God.
One who allows us to have a “do over” in adult life and learn anew the valuable skills of nurturance and care giving in relationships.
Comfort, Nurture and Caregiving described:
As the GIVER:
To acknowledge and pursue the feelings of neediness or pain in another person and to be present with them both emotionally and physically to validate the reality of their inner experiences through touch, empathy and caring support.
In addition, this includes nurturance and care giving when the person in a favorable emotional place as well as including the support of each other’s personal growth and autonomous exploration when not distressed.
As the RECEIVER:
To acknowledge neediness and feelings of pain in oneself and then to be vulnerable to share this with another person and then to receive from them touch, validation, caring and support.
The Problem in a nutshell:
“…romantic partners differ considerably in their willingness and ability to provide sensitive care to one another, and many intimate relationships fail to provide partners with the deep sense of emotional security that is necessary for optimal functioning. After all, responding to the needs of others is often a difficult task that involves a good deal of responsibility, as well as a substantial amount of cognitive, emotional and sometimes tangible resources. Not everyone is equally skilled at providing responsive support, nor equally motivated to do so (Collins, Dynamics of Romantic Love p.149).”
Each of the injured love styles has a different challenge in becoming the man or woman that God wants them to be.
Over the next four weeks, we will be looking at necessary growth steps that each injured love style will need to make in order to become a better nurturer and caregiver.
Let us begin with the avoider love style… that is, those of us who tend to dismiss the emotions and needs of both themselves and others.
The Avoider: The general growth goal will be to learn to initiate engagement with your spouse in the emotional, spiritual and physical arenas that are non-sexual in nature.
Practice the following suggestions on a daily basis and you will be amazed at the difference you and your spouse will feel toward one another.
- Observe and watch your spouse as they go through day-to-day activities. Learn what they like to do and ask them questions about why they like to do certain things and what they feel as they do them. (Many avoiders do not even notice when someone walks into the room.)
- Always greet / acknowledge your spouse and family members as they enter your presence.
- Be polite and inquire about their life and their feelings about life.
- Touch your spouse and children 5 times per day.
(Statistics show that if servers in restaurants somehow “touch” the patron in an affirming manner, their tip will be higher. This type of touch needs to be non-sexual in nature. )
(Pat their shoulder, stroke their hair, hold their hand, hug, snuggle, sit on lap, lovingly “groom” them such as picking off lint, fixing their collar, straightening their tie, or pulling a hair from their nose (just kidding).)
- Look directly into their eyes 5 times per day and say aloud, “I love you.” Then, complement them for some emotional or internal quality or characteristic.
- Call them from the office (or from home) at least one time per day, inquire about their day and their emotional state, and ask how to pray for them.
- Share (take a risk) one internal thought and emotion per day with them about something that is bothering or exciting you and is not directly related to them. Ask them to pray for you and request a hug from them.
- Your reward: You will begin to feel and connect in a new and different way that will fill up your soul with comfort. Your spouse will be less frustrated with you and will enjoy your presence. Odds are.. sex will be more pleasurable and less of a “leap” toward intimacy both for you as well as for your spouse.
Discussion Question: “Are their ways you distract yourself from emotional pain so you won’t have to ‘need’ another person for emotional support and comfort?”
Keep growing! God is willing to help you on your growing and healing journey so that your character more resembles our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:15).
Love and blessings,
Milan and Kay
SPREAD THE WORD:
If you enjoyed our newsletter, would you please forward it to your e-mail list or send a memo out encouraging them to sign up for our weekly newsletters? Thanks.
The Pleaser’s growth goals toward becoming a better nurturer and caregiver.
Milan and Kay