COMFORT, NURTURE, and CAREGIVING
Second in a four part series
This information about love styles and their struggle to be adequate caregivers is new material, which has recently been 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 crucial that we all understand how to be better at nurturing and comforting one another, for it is a key to emotional bonding and healing.
Last week we talked about the avoider’s struggle to draw close to their spouse (or anyone significant for that matter) in an intimate manner that promotes a warm interpersonal atmosphere.
Because they have never experienced it in their own lives growing up as children, how would they ever know how to do it as an adult?
They can’t… so they will have to learn how to do this as an adult for God calls all of us to grow up in the underdeveloped aspect of our emotional and spiritual lives.
The German word for ambiance is “gemutlich”, a wonderfully descriptive word that connotes an inviting, comfortable, pleasurable, aesthetically pleasing setting.
When we enter into such a place, all of our senses are heightened and we begin to experience feelings of warmth and tranquility.
After a while, we find ourselves relaxed and refreshed in such a way that our spirits are more peaceful.
Most of the times we do not want the experience to end for we would like to stay forever.
Yet we tear ourselves away and go back to the realities of life hoping to return sometime soon.
Do you have a place in mind?
Have you ever thought about becoming the kind of person that provides emotional gemutlich or relational ambiance that creates the same mood or feeling within those who are important to you?
Interestingly, the New Testament contains many references to this Christian concept.
The Apostle Paul in referring to the experience of being in the presence of some special friends said, “For they refreshed my spirit (I Corinthians 16:18).”
This concept is the very heart of God.
As we said last week, 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.
This week, let us look at the Pleaser love style … that is, those of us who 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.
Comfort, Nurture and Caregiving described:
The Pleaser: If the general growth goal of the avoider is to initiate engagement with your spouse in the emotional, spiritual and physical arenas that are non-sexual in nature, we might say then, the goal of the pleaser will be almost the opposite.
That is, learning to separate from others and give them space and breathing room so that they can rest from you.
So, here are the steps I (Milan) had to work through as a recovering pleaser.
- Allow your spouse or significant other to have distance that allows for emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual difference and separation.
- Stop observing and watching them like a hawk. Give your spouse freedom from your needy, suspicious, jealous, riveting gaze. (Do you like driving with a police vehicle following you for a long distance?)
- 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 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. One of Kay’s needs as a recovering avoider as well as being an Introvert is that after a meaningful conversation and connection, she likes to go off by herself, wander around, look for bargains or find a new book or CD at the local bookseller shop. My feelings used to get hurt when her “recovery plans” did not include me. I have since learned that meaningful nurturance to her allows her to have “I” time (introvert time to re-charge her batteries).
- Work on your own fears, insecurities and co-dependence issues in the workbook, prayer, Bible Study, support groups and therapy. One of the key growth steps for me was to force myself to learn to be comfortable with solitude. I disciplined myself to learn to be quiet and alone in a room for 5 minutes at first and then I have moved it up so that I am comfortable alone for days at a time without talking to someone. Jesus enjoyed solitude and practiced it frequently. We need to learn to not be afraid to be with ourselves and the feelings that arise.
- Your reward: 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: “Are there ways you distract yourself from emotional pain by hovering over others and focusing on their issues instead of squarely looking at your own fears and insecurities?”
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