As the consciousness of humanity evolves and changes so has the structure of marriage, partnership and relationships. We are in a transitional stage of relationship moving away from the concept of two independent autonomous people cohabiting together and attempting to get their individual needs met in a hierarchical structure with fixed roles. A companionship model of conscious partnership consisting of mutual interdependence, interpersonal relating, intimacy, equity and commitment to placing the relationship first while aligning with what is best for each other is arising. The focus away from a singular insular preoccupation with self and my needs to what are the needs of the relationship is a step towards greater love, compatibility, understanding, intimacy, and surprisingly getting more of your needs met....
Falling in love is a magical experience. It directs your attention to another; you begin to care about someone other than yourself. You open up and share your thoughts, feelings, and interests. Caring and sharing with mutual reliance on each other seems easy at this stage. Keeping this level of interest and caring is often challenging.
What happened to us? The Zing, the Romance, the Pizzazz is gone!
It makes sense that the first blush of all encompassing love must end. No one can keep that level of exclusive attention. It wouldn’t serve you or your relationship. What does not need to be forgotten is your level of Caring for your partner. Once the courtship is over, your zeal to find meaning, purpose, and promote your individual needs and desires focuses your attention back on the self. Career, children and the usual demands of everyday life may find you leading an independent and parallel existence without much connection to your partner. You end up feeling bereft of intimacy and caring.
“Participating in Caring behaviors with Attuned Presence and Concern is a vital component to Sustain a Conscious Growing Relationship”
Relationships get into trouble when there is a lack of caring. Studies of couples in therapy revealed a disquieting commonality; dissatisfied couples expressed the belief that their partner loved them while at the same time not feeling deeply cared about. Without the feeling of being cared about discontentment increases with the likelihood of conflict, resentment, distance and separation. In this day and age relationship requires participation and presence.
Caring Relationships Heal Childhood Wounds
Caring is the act of displaying kindness and concern for another. Caring presence accords a special focus of attention on your partner that expresses they are of primary importance to you. When you have someone you can rely upon, who understands you, accepts you just as you are, supports your highest aspirations while demonstrating affection and nurturing, you are able to move into the world securely. Being nurtured opens up neural pathways and heals toxic emotional childhood wounds. A caring relationship is the soothing tonic that restores secure attachment.
Three Dimensions of Caring: Putting the Zing back into Your Relationship
In their research, Paul and Evelyn Moschetta identified three dimensions of caring that are vitally important to maintain a healthy, growing, mutually satisfying and loving relationship. Those dimensions are Sustenance Caring, Intentional Caring, and Reverential Caring.
“The kind of caring that supplies the emotional necessities of life; nurturing, supporting and strengthening the other. Sustenance caring cannot be known on an intellectual level only; it must be a felt experience as well. Study subjects said that receiving sustenance caring left them feeling loved, “warm” inside, happy, sexually responsive, stable, secure, trusting, capable of facing problems, capable of reaching out to others.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta
Helpful Actions to give Sustenance Caring to Your Partner:
- Be present and attentive to the needs of your partner
- Be generous with your time; your partner comes first over others
- Be available in times of need
- Give frequent displays of affection both physically and verbally; give hugs and gentle touch
- Be aware and attuned to your partner’s moods
- Demonstrate trust, generosity and unselfish concern for your partner
- Be genuinely interested and involved in your partner’s life
- Be an expert on your partner; learn what soothes and pleases them
Behaviors and actions that undermine Sustenance Caring:
- Not sharing your deeper feelings and thoughts
- Shutting out your partner by withdrawing, ignoring them or neglecting their thoughts, feelings, and presence
- Not showing physical or verbal affection
- Lack of attunement to their moods and emotional needs
- A big No…Flirting and emotional intimacy with someone other than your partner (rule of thumb: any conversation or behavior that may hurt your partner if they heard or saw you…is off the table)
- Hiding or keeping secrets that have an impact on the relationship: health, finances, affairs, travel arrangements, purchases etc.
“Takes the form of actions purposefully undertaken to help one’s partner grow. It is the expression of a commitment to foster growth, and conveys a deep interest in the other’s full use of talents, capabilities, and potentials. Study subjects reported that receiving Intentional caring left them feeling courageous, unafraid, more adequate, liberated, more adult, able to invest oneself, capable of doing a great deal, capable of fulfilling potentials.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta
- Be interested in your partner’s ideas and pursuits
- Be your partner’s advocate, promote and champion their direction of growth and interests
- Appreciate their talents, capabilities and potential
- Encourage and assist your partner when challenges arise
- Be cooperative and flexible
- Be willing to share responsibilities
- Maximize growth opportunities for your partner
- Be willing to let them know when they are going in a direction that is potentially harmful to them: health, financial, with other people etc.
Behaviors and actions that undermine Intentional Caring:
- Undermining your partner’s confidence
- Lecturing and parenting your partner
- Sabotaging or subverting your partner’s dreams
- Enabling and co-dependent behaviors
- Controlling your partner
- Blaming your partner rather than listening and finding solutions or requesting amends
“Means valuing the other's individuality, holding them in high esteem and making them a top priority. It means having intense interest and admiration for the other. Reverential caring conveys an acceptance of one’s partner as he or she actually is without illusions, or preconceived or accumulated images. Study subjects reported that receiving reverential caring left them feeling important, valued, wanted, worthwhile, free to be oneself, capable of seeing one’s shortcomings, accepting of oneself, proud, grateful, fortunate.”
~ Paul and Evelyn Moschetta
- Always make your partner Number 1 in your eyes; say and do things to remind your partner that they are tops with you
- Establish each other as your primary ‘Go to Person’
- Treat your partner as an equal, neither below you or above you
- Accept your partner just the way they are with all of their foibles and idiosyncrasies
- Value and freely appreciate your partner’s abilities
- Have your partner’s back especially in the company of others; this means supporting your partner even if you do not agree (express your opinion in private)
Behaviors and actions that undermine Reverential Caring:
- Criticizing your partner
- Demanding perfection
- Ridiculing, berating, belittling or shaming your partner (if joking means making fun of your partner, it is demeaning and will cause hurt and resentment)
- Embarrassing your partner with your words or actions
- Disrespecting or diminishing the worth of your partner
- Dominating your partner
Caring is a day-to-day and moment-by-moment opportunity to create a long-lasting intimate and joy filled relationship. Loving energy directed toward your relationship is life enhancing and brings the greatest reward, which is learning how to give and receive love.