By Spirituality Coach Katrina Cavanough.
I want him to listen.
Why cant we just put the past behind us?
I cant forgive him/her.
He never tells me that I love him.
I would love more sex.
He won’t talk to me about his feelings.
It doesn’t matter what I do its never good enough.
I’m not sure if I want to be in this marriage anymore.
As a relationship therapist I have heard them all. And really, when you peel it all back – the complaints, feelings of desperation, frustration and perhaps even despair – they always come down to one central theme – I don’t feel loved and connected to my partner. In other words; I don’t feel like they love me or can show me that they love me anymore.
When a couple decides to get some help it is a unique and sacred time. A time when the relationship is both fragile yet also open, ready for change. It is impossible to describe what it is like to be in the same room as two people as they join together and discover a different way of being together.
It is a beautiful experience to see couples rise to the challenge and emerge afresh from a few rounds of therapy. There truly is a sense of renewal and strength in the new knowledge of who they are; both as individuals and as a couple.
But what goes on in there? What happens behind the closed doors of the therapy space? The answer is a lot. But there is one tool that I believe that everyone should know. It is one of the best kept secrets in the area of relationship improvement. And I want to share it with you right now.
Stop saying ‘I love you.’ And start saying, ‘I will nurture you.’
Shocking right? Yet when you give this one a try; the results will speak for themselves.
From the first session I invite couples to lay down the word ‘love’ and instead use the word ‘nurture’. When we say we want someone to love us, we actually mean we want someone to nurture us.
To be nurtured is to be appreciated, cared for, and to have our mind, body and soul nourished by the experience of being in relationship with another.
When one person considers, ‘What can I do today to nurture my partner?’ then the answers flow more easily. There are always so many things that one can do or say to help the other person to feel good and to feel a sense of comfort, safety and enrichment.
When you ask a couple “What can you do today to show your partner that you love them?” then the conversation can become more tricky. Usually one person will identify a list of things that they can do to show the other their love; only to have the their partner say that those very actions do not leave them feeling loved at all.
One of the reasons why the word love is not healthy for a relationship is that there are many of us who unconsciously associate the word love with feeling hurt. As children, if our first experience of two people loving each other were our parents fighting or emotionally shut off from each other; then we soon learn that to love is to hurt another. We begin to associate loving someone with emotional pain.
It’s no major leap then to understand that when someone then says ‘I love you’; the body and the brain hears ‘I will hurt you.’ Unconscious alarm bells sound and leave people feeling confused and overwhelmed.
Yet the word nurture dissolves this misunderstanding. To nurture is to listen, to be present, to mindfully attend, to make a cup of tea, and to provide comfort and support. There is no confusion. And the difference that this makes can be so profound yet it is so simple.
People need to see changes quickly. When they do they are motivated to keep going and keep working on their relationship. So today I invite you to consider, “What are some of the things you can do or say to nurture your partner?” Sit down and write a list together. Then be brave and enact that list. It’s a simple way to make healthy true love together.
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Katrina Cavanough is a woman who ‘knows’. Her ability to connect to the past, present and future has allowed her to offer insights, healing and inspiration to thousands of people as a grief and trauma therapist, a life strategist and a spirituality coach. She believes we all have the power to tap into with our inner wisdom in order to create lives full of happiness, wealth and health. Learn more about her online course here.