COMFORT, NURTURE, and CAREGIVING
Third in a four part series
This information about love styles and their struggle to be adequate caregivers is new material, and has been recently added to our How We Love Sexually seminar.
Hopefully, it will also be a part of the new book we will be writing soon by the same title.
For now, it is very important that we all understand how to be better at nurturing and comforting one another….. for it is a key to emotional bonding and healing.
As we said over the last two weeks, each of the injured love styles has a different challenge in becoming the man or woman that God wants them to be to provide this kind of relational warmth to others.
We learned that the care giving growth goal for the avoider is to initiate engagement with their spouse and others in the emotional, spiritual and physical arenas that are non-sexual in nature.
Last week we learned that the comfort growth goals of the pleaser are almost opposite in nature, that is they need to learn to separate from others and give them space and breathing room so that they can rest from the overly attentive gaze of the pleaser.
Remember, pleasers tend to overly focus on the needs of others, not because they are so wonderful, but because they need to soothe their own anxiety by keeping others close.
Vacillators have similar maturity goals to the pleaser, yet the key difference is that while the pleaser needs to learn to separate from others while conquering the emotion of fear, the vacillator journey of separation necessitates the successful management of the emotion of anger.
Comfort, Nurture and Caregiving described:
If you are a Vacillator, you are self-absorbed in your own gaze.
You will be self-conscious about how you are feeling around others and hyper-attentive to their feedback, which in turn influences how you feel about yourself.
When you walk into a room, you expect others to be attentive to you which in turn, causes you to feel good about that person who makes you feel that way as well as making you feel good about yourself.
If the opposite response occurs and you feel slighted by someone, you will instantaneously feel horrible inside and get angry with the person who made you feel that way.
Why is this?
Subconsciously entrapped in a self-absorptive gaze, they assume others are too.
They cannot imagine that others do not think in the same manner.
Thus, they imagine then that the lack of attentiveness or acknowledgement is a purposeful act against them, which in turn enrages them.
As adults, they cannot distinguish between current adulthood relational conflicts and all of the abandonment themes from childhood.
They unknowingly project onto others all of the bad motives which would accompany these unkind gestures.
Because they occur within the mind of the vacillator, they are not at all clear to the others who offend the vacillator and they are therefore clueless as to what they have done.
If this clueless person happens to be married to the vacillator, over time they are walking on eggshells and second-guessing everything they do.
Eventually people pull away from vacillator, which then hurts the vacillator.
This reinforces their belief that the spouse wishes to hurt them and rage ensues.
So what can the Vacillator do to comfort and nurture the very people that they have come to believe are against them? (Some of these are similar to the Pleaser’s growth goals.)
- Allow your spouse or significant other to have distance that allows for emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual difference and separation. This includes that they are not always thinking about you. Their brain cannot possibly do that and secondly, they do not want to think about you all the time. They have other interests. Accept this fact.
- Stop observing and watching them like a hawk. Give your spouse freedom from your suspicious and covetous gaze.
- Give them room to breathe and freedom to roam. Ask them what they would enjoy doing and learn to be a supporter of their independent activities. When they do some autonomous activity either with people or a task, enthusiastically ask them about the fun they had (without you) and celebrate with them their good time. Encourage them to do it again.
- Inquire how they are doing emotionally and make your questions about their well-being instead of being about you. In other words, stop asking questions about motives and behaviors that are directly (or indirectly) an attempt to soothe your own separation anxiety and distress. People will eventually pull away from you when you do.
- If you do have emotional distress, be honest and directly say so, and ask them to process your internal discomfort with you and go around the comfort cycle.
- Learn to give a spontaneous kiss or hug for their sake without wishing for some response in return. If their response is not what you expected or seems half-hearted, do not go “all bad” inside and turn it into something more than what it really is… an imperfect attempt at connection.
- If you are concerned for their emotional well being, then ask them directly how they are doing. Ask them if they would like to process with you and go around the comfort cycle. If they do, allow them to answer the question, “What do you need right now?” before you start providing solutions. Sometimes their recovery plans” will not include you. Give them a hug and let them go. For meaningful nurturance allows others to move away from you without punitive repercussions.
- Work on your own fears, insecurities and co-dependence issues in the How We Love workbook, prayer, Bible Study, support group and therapy. One of the key growth steps for you will to learn to be comfortable alone without becoming angry at “rejection” which really is not rejection at all. After all, it is the allowance of others to choose something different from you. They are individuals aren’t they?
- You need to learn to not be afraid of the feelings of anger that arise within you. Tell your spouse when you are scared and angry, let them know that you are working on learning to love yourself and others better but that it frightens you at times. Ask for comfort and holding (see section 4 in our book “How We Love”) to create closeness and comfort that is reciprocal.
- Your reward: By nurturing others in this way, others will want to draw close to you and spend some time with you because they will feel free to depart easily when they so desire.
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.
Discussion Question: “Is my anger really at my spouse or is it an old familiar feeling that I have known for many years? Does it remind me of other times of being alone and lonely? “
Instead of lashing out at our spouse, mourn and get angry at the painful past, which is where the emotions need to be directed.
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