5 WAYS TO NURTURE LOVE
A Huffington Post Blog Reprint
I don’t really like baseball, but I love baseball analogies. A male friend once told me that baseball was a thinking person’s game and that intrigued me. My friend said the thinking part is the relationship between the pitcher and catcher. That relationship is developed and sustained by a strategy of non-verbal signals between the catcher and pitcher regarding what pitch will be thrown. They exchange so many nods, winks, tells, twitches and tics that I usually fall asleep for lack of excitement.
However, the cornerstone of the catcher/pitcher relationship is about their commitment to execute the strategy they worked out so carefully in practice. That’s an amazing concept when you think about it. Although the pitcher/catcher relationship isn’t about traditional love, don’t you wish every loving relationship was thought out and implemented so carefully?
There are all types of loving relationships: the young couple committing to each other in a frenzy of intense hormonal contact; the loving and sometimes frustrating dynamic between parent and child; the best friend love–male or female—that supports you through life; and the mature love of a 40-year marriage.
Here are 5 ways that people in loving relationships can nurture their love, provide emotional guidance and support, and build a strong foundation for lasting love.
Respect requires a commitment to support each other’s needs with mindfulness. One of the strongest characteristics of a nurturing couple is that each person has as much knowledge about the other as humanly possible. The curious thing is that many couples lack complete information about each other, even after 10 years of marriage or a lifetime of being a parent. Without taking the time to know the other person, you won’t be able to understand the totality of the person you say you love. The pitcher and catcher know everything about their relationship and the respect is manifested on the field. It takes energy and dedication to know your partner’s particular likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings. But the investment in time and energy will only deepen your respect for your special person.
I’m always fascinated to see a couple who has been together a long time or a parent and child still hold hands, link arms, give each other warm kisses on the cheek and hug each other like they mean it. We know that familiarity through touch is strongest in the early stages of a relationship. Over time, the physical nourishment that comes from touching can easily be lost. Intimacy comes in many forms: an active sex drive can fortify physical contact with partners outside the bedroom; best friends can hug; a son can put his arm around his mother; two sisters can hold hands. Reach out for a kiss, a hug, or a squeeze of the hand. And never let your loving friend or partner leave the house without a touch or an “I love you.” Finally, take a clue from the catcher in baseball and make a daily intention to give as many non-verbal communications as possible.
It is a wise person who has a mental notebook with stored information about those they love–dreams, drives, emotional triggers, dislikes, goals, joys fears, best friends, favorite teams, movies, books, and every level of importance that affects the partner. The catcher and pitcher keep a running mental log of everything that is important for the pitch. So, too, should a partner remember and bring into the conversation all that is known about the other. After that, make an intention to bring new information into conversations to spark interest, stay curious, and make future plans. Try not to get trapped in negatives and unrealistic expectations. Talk everything out in detail without anger, recrimination, or blame. And make sure you know where the laughs are. There is nothing more exciting than humor to nurture a relationship.
How we love to be right! How we love the other to be wrong! Eliminate the ego’s need to be right all the time and the decision-making process in a relationship will be much easier to handle. Park your ego outside the door when you are about to encounter opposing opinions. Agree to negotiate before you negotiate. Like the catcher and pitcher, prepare time to decide the ground rules: no blame, accusations, and neither party will be the enemy. Stick to the pre-agreement rules and compromise will be a nurturing process rather than a prelude to anger. This is undoubtedly one of the most challenging aspects of a relationship and one that takes particular attention and a great deal of stamina.
We all know we don’t listen fully in a conversation. How many times have you heard, “Are you listening to me?” It’s human nature to tune out what we don’t want to hear due to lack of interest or couple or friendship fatigue. Yet, when your partner is speaking, it is the most important time to tune in. What if the catcher signals to the pitcher and the pitcher isn’t fully present? Active listening is crucial. Give feedback when appropriate. Don’t interrupt someone’s thought, let the idea come to fruition and then respond. A wandering mind can miss important information and significant details that impact the future.
A loving strategy is important to sustain a loving relationship. Remember, everyone is playing on the same team.