There is no eternal love . if we don’t take care of each other all the time. However, it is necessary to show attention: to be generous, but not to be a victim, to accept care with gratitude, but not to become an object of manipulation.
To be happy, to enjoy intimacy and reciprocity … These are the ideals of any couple, even if none of the partners specifically thought about it.
At first, they seem to be easy to achieve. When a relationship is just beginning, in the presence of a loved one, the whole world is illuminated, and we do not have to make any efforts for this. Everything turns out by itself. However, gradually the intensity of feelings cools down, and our view becomes more realistic. And this is exactly the time when to start strengthening the relationship, our experts suggest. But as?
Help and support, be attentive, awaken desire – in a word, take care of each other. For a declaration of love in Italian, there is a stable expression, “Ti Voglio bene” – literally: “I wish you well.” This beautiful formula evokes an association not with the thirst for possession but with love in its most altruistic, generous, and, one might say ideal manifestation. On the one hand, such an idea seems completely natural: does not love to mean to wish good for another? But on the other hand, everything is not so simple …
SIGNALS FROM THE DARK SIDE
Turning to our unconscious depths, psychoanalysis recalls the dark sides of the best feelings: it is envy, jealousy, even hatred or fear, which we prefer not to admit to ourselves so as not to disturb our peace of mind.
Psychoanalyst Jean-Michel Hirt is sure that “any good intention can hide much less attractive motivation, for example, the desire to feel power over a partner, make him dependent on himself or even hide his aggression with gifts and tokens.” In his opinion, it is always useful to ask a question about the true reasons for their actions, especially if the latter seem overly altruistic and generous or are committed under the motto “I will do anything for you” or “You are everything for me.”
The fear of losing another person or being deceived by him can also be both a powerful stimulus in a love relationship and a source of constant conflict and even a cause of the breakup. A partner who feels that unconscious fears and ulterior motives drive us may not withstand such emotional captivity.
This happened to 37-year-old Zhanna – her lover, now a former, constantly called her, sent SMS and e-mails, wanting to know almost every second “what his bunny is doing”. Jeanne felt that all these questions, gifts and tokens of attention had woven a web around her, and in the end, she had only one desire – to tear it apart at any cost.
Relationships in a couple are sometimes fraught with a strange paradox: even though our care is directed at a partner, its goal is not always his good. Nadezhda, 25, says that soon after her marriage, she began advising her husband on any occasion and could not resist, even when he began to rebel: “You treat me like a little one!” The therapist’s meeting helped her understand that she was trying to reproduce with her husband the model of the relationship that developed in childhood: she had two younger brothers, whom she took care of.
Family psychotherapist Inna Khamitova explains: “Due to our upbringing and family habits, some of us feel good and significant only by taking care of the other. While the other in reality may not need it and even be burdened by such attention. “Therefore, it is important to correlate the “amount” of care with the needs of the partner and to really assess how useful it is for him.
Jean-Michel Hirt emphasizes: “The ability to take care of the other is not so much about giving as much as possible, but about adhering to that very golden mean, which will allow you to listen to your own needs and desires, as well as to the needs and desires partner “.
“My wife likes to feel in charge” Semyon, 43 years old
Semyon, 43 years old: “Our marriage with Alice seemed happy to everyone, including me. We met six years ago when I came to a large company where she worked. And although we are the same age, I was considered a young specialist there, and she was an experienced employee. So she took over my patronage and helped me a lot, for which I was very grateful to her.
We got married a year later. And somehow by itself, it turned out that she became the main one in the family. I even liked it because I went for a promotion and my career occupied all my thoughts. And my wife remained in her previous position and spared no effort to improve the house and our life together.
It seemed to me that everything was going as it should until I suddenly realized: if I was next to my wife, and I was completely lost, I feel helpless, like a boy. She decides who we go to visit, where we go on vacation – almost everything. At work, I am the boss, and at home I turn into a preschooler who is given breakfast; they say what to do: “put on your hat,” “don’t forget the keys,” “it’s time to go to bed.”
Several times I started talking about how I would like to have children, but each time she answered that she was not ready yet. It seems that she assigned this role to me! I once told her about this, and we had a serious quarrel. Alice reproached me for my ingratitude, but she never changed her attitude towards me.
It seems like it is important for her to feel in charge. This creates another problem: when I am treated with patronage, I stop feeling like a man, which kills sexual desire. But it doesn’t seem to new bother her much either. I don’t know if I new can handle it myself. Maybe I should look for a psychotherapist …”
KNOWING OF LIMITS
To maintain this golden mean, it is necessary to develop a sense of balance in oneself, that is, to learn how to distribute efforts, give and receive evenly, without becoming hostages of one’s own egoism, and without strangling a partner with one’s attention.
“Two simple actions help in this,” says Inna Khamitova, “ask your partner and ask yourself. First, ask questions about the other needs, what help is expected from you, and find out how useful or pleasant you have done for him. Second, listen to your feelings. Many are familiar with the resentment we experience when we reproach our partner for “ingratitude”.
This bitter sensation can be beneficial! “It is an indicator that indicates that we are doing something that another does not need, or we are spending too much energy, and we should stop and take care of ourselves. “After all, we create a couple to live with another person, and not instead of him,” emphasizes Inna Khamitova.
We, too, often underestimate our ability to change.
Sometimes the concern also lies in the ability to step into the background at the right moment and keep a certain distance. “When Nikolai lost his father,” recalls 34-year-old Nina, “I felt that it would be better for me to leave him new alone for a while so that he could survive this blow and could finally take the place of the main man in the family, who was his domineering father. never yielded to him. “
Tune in to another person to catch what he cannot say aloud; help him take off the mask without fear of judgment; allowing yourself to do the same – all this is also the key to intimacy in a couple. We, too, often underestimate our ability to change.
“At the beginning of our relationship,” recalls 42-year-old Kirill, “Katya constantly reproached me for indifference and selfishness. I closed myself off when I felt that there was a conflict and avoided talking about myself … However, hearing her, I learned to be more open, and Katya, on the contrary, became more restrained. “
“Understanding the feelings of a partner is the basis for a truly close relationship,” Inna Khamitova is convinced. “But first of all, you need to learn to understand your own feelings.” The family psychotherapist advises against working on your feelings in three stages: to feel full how this or that emotion is engulfing us; determine its quality (anger, sadness, embarrassment …); and, finally, accept it (“now I am angry”; “I am sad”; “I am embarrassed”…).
Awareness of their experiences allows them not to ascribe responsibility to the partner and not present him with unrealizable demands. Accepting your own emotions helps you stay close while avoiding emotional addiction.
Inna Khamitova also believes that caring for relationships also implies the ability to express their positive emotions: “Over time, partners seem to forget that they began to live together because they wanted it, that they experienced mutual interest and attraction.” Do not think that this is “by itself implied, since we live together.”
It is important to remember and speak out loud about this and the merits of your partner and the pleasure that you experience in his company to make sincere compliments and confess your love.
Criticism does not help to improve at all but rather dampens enthusiasm.
Sometimes we casually devalue the desire to please each other without even realizing it. “I brought carnations, and I love chrysanthemums”, “I cooked borscht, but not salted enough” – these remarks seem innocent, but they give rise to the fear that our attention will cause displeasure.
Contrary to popular misconception, criticism doesn’t help you improve but rather dampens enthusiasm. Therefore, “it is better to under-criticize than under-praise,” advises the family psychologist.
“The pleasing couples are those who practice positive reinforcement in their relationship,” adds Jean-Michel Hirt. – They thank each other, make compliments, remember the wonderful moments of their life together …”
Paying attention to the good, reminding yourself and each other of happy moments or better qualities is the most enjoyable way to maintain feelings of love and sexual desire.
“The real victory is to get out of the conflict together”.
Inna Khamitova, family psychotherapist
Psychologies: How can you continue to care for your partner in times of conflict?
I. Kh conflict– part of family life, not the end of it. It is important to remember this in order not to over-dramatize the situation. In the midst of a conflict, everyone is focused on themselves and defending their innocence. But, when the surplus of energy splashes out, it is useful to realize your feelings and tell your partner about them. This will help him understand you and serve as an example that he can follow. An open exchange of feelings brings partners closer, increases trust between them, and opens the way for resolving differences.
What, on the contrary, should be avoided?
IK: In a conflict situation, a couple is threatened by three main dangers. First, the transformation of the relationship into a role-playing game, “executioner-victim”, when one of the two refuses to take on the responsibility for what is happening and tries to shift all the blame onto the other. Secondly, insults and humiliation of a partner deeply hurt and are not forgotten even over time. And thirdly, the desire to quickly hush up the conflict, instead of resolving it – later, it will still flare up again, but with a different force.