Nurturing Love and Respect in Marriage
To love our marriage partner effectively, we have to know and understand their inner world-their likes, dislikes, thoughts, and feelings.
Taking the time to do this and then acting on what we learn is a powerful way to nurture love and respect in our marriage.
Researcher John Gottman calls
this process enhancing our “love maps.”What is a love map? Gottman says it’s the part of your brain where you store important information about your spouse. It’s like a mental notebook where you write down unique traits of your spouse and things
about him or her you want to remember.
It includes your spouse’s
dreams, goals, joys, fears, likes, dislikes, frustrations, and worries. Things like your husband’s favorite breakfast
cereal or the name of your wife’s best friend are important “points” on the map.
Why are thorough love maps so important? Because they strengthen marriages. Couples with extensive love maps remember important dates and events, and they stay aware of their partner’s changing needs. They constantly seek updates on what the other
person is doing, feeling, and thinking.
Being known in this way is
a gift each partner gives the other, bringing great happiness and satisfaction. It also makes couples better prepared to cope
with stresses on their marriage.
For example, in one study
Gottman interviewed couples around the time of the birth of their first child. For 67% of couples this stressful event was
accompanied by a significant drop in marital satisfaction. But the other 33% did not see such a drop, and many felt their
marriages had improved.
The difference was the completeness
of the couples’ love maps. “The couples whose marriages thrived after the birth had detailed love maps from the get-go. . . ,” says Gottman. “These love maps protected their marriages in the wake of this dramatic upheaval.”
Couples who had established
a habit of finding out about each other’s thoughts and feelings were likely to continue doing so at a time of change.
Their deep knowledge about each other and their practice of staying in touch protected their relationships from being thrown
off course. They grew to love each other more deeply because there was more about each other to love.
Here are some activities to
help you nurture love and respect by expanding and using your love maps:
Play “Love Map 20 Questions” with your spouse. Together write down as many detailed, personal
questions you can think of (at least 20). Include a wide range of questions
from many different categories. Take turns asking each other questions from your list. Then see if you can answer the questions
for each other by turning your questions around. Instead of asking “What is your dream vacation?” ask “What
is my dream vacation?”
Keep score if you like, but
keep the game lighthearted and fun, not competitive. Examples of the categories and questions you might ask include the following:
Family: Which of my parents
do I think I’m most like? Why?
Friends: Name two of my best
friends and how I met them.
Work: How do I feel about
my boss? What would I change about my job?
Hobbies: What are my three
favorite things to do in my spare time?
Dreams: What is one of my
Favorites: What is my favorite
dessert? TV show? Sports team?
Feelings: What makes me feel
stressed? When do I feel confident?
For two consecutive weeks, keep a journal. Write something every day, even if it’s brief. Try not to focus on your actions,
such as “Today I went to the store and took the kids to soccer.” Rather, focus on your thoughts and feelings-”I
was really upset by the way Bob treated me at work today” or “I read an article today and it reminded me of. .
. .” At the end of the two weeks, exchange journals.
Use your love map to show you care. Think of something special or unique about your spouse-something personal
and specific, such as a talent, dream, favorite thing. Then turn that thought into a kind act for your spouse, such as making
her favorite dish or clipping from the newspaper a course announcement about something that interests him. You might also
write your spouse a note about one of their best qualities. For example, if your husband or wife is especially dedicated to
his or her job, write a note saying how much you appreciate and admire this. Slip it into a briefcase or purse.
It’s important that you not do something generic. The purpose of this activity is to show your spouse that you know and remember specific
things about him or her. So don’t just buy your wife some flowers - buy her yellow rose buds because you know those
are her favorite.
During a visit to her in-laws,
Ann found out that when her husband, Steve, was a little boy he always wanted his birthday cakes decorated like choo-choo
trains. A few months later, she surprised Steve by making a train cake for his birthday.
Bob’s favorite movie
was playing at the local theatre. After work, Susan surprised him with pre-paid tickets for the evening show.
Bill’s wife, Jill, loves
to try new recipes. While he was picking up a few things at the store, he also picked up a cooking magazine.
Use your love maps to speak your spouse’s “love language.” Each of us likes to be loved in our own way, according to our own love language. Enhancing our love maps allows us to become more knowledgeable about our spouse’s love language so that when we send a message intended as loving, it will be received as loving.
When we neglect to learn our
partner’s love language, it’s easy to make mistakes when we intend to communicate love. For example, Robert got up at 5:30 one Saturday morning and washed, waxed, and polished the floors, cleaned the garage,
cut the lawn, and planted flowers. He thought these actions were a great way to communicate love to his wife because for him, such actions communicate love.
At noon he showered and was
about to leave. As he walked out the front door, his wife said: “John, the least you could do is kiss me good-bye!”
He thought he had already shown his love by doing the chores above and beyond what was expected, but her love language required affection. Without it, she did not truly feel loved.
Develop a “Caring
Days” list. One way to learn to speak each other’s love language is to practice “Caring Days,” a technique developed by therapist Richard Stuart and clinically shown
to strengthen marriages. Here’s how to do it:
First, sit down together and
develop a Caring Days list by agreeing on several behaviors or actions (say, nine for each
partner) that you find loving and would like to receive from your partner. These actions must be:
1. Specific (such as “Tell me you love me at least once a day”),
2. Positive (not “Don’t do this” or “Stop doing that”),
3. Small enough to be done on a
daily basis (such as “Call me at work during lunch, just to see how I’m doing”),
4. Not related to any recent conflict.
Second, agree to doing five
of the actions on the Caring Days list each day for two weeks. Even if your partner doesn’t follow through with his
or her list, be patient and persist in doing your list.
Third, put the Caring Days
list in a conspicuous place, such as on the refrigerator door or bathroom mirror. List the actions in a center column and
your name on one side and your spouse’s names on the other. When an action is received, note the date next to the action.
This will help reinforce speaking one another’s love language.
At the end of two weeks, evaluate
how your relationship has changed.
An action one wife listed
was a “daily back rub.” He liked her to “snuggle up close to me when we sit together.” Creating, keeping,
then following a current Caring List reduces the guesswork in nurturing love and respect in marriage.
For Further Reading:
The Relationship Cure,
by John Gottman
The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work,
Fighting for Your Marriage,
Markman, Scott Stanley, and Susan Blumberg
Beyond the Myth of Marital Happiness
Blaine J. Fowers
Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service Website - The Marriage
source site: click here
Celebrating Diversity, Nurturing Respect
National Food Service Management Institute • The University of Mississippi
It’s a world of differences
As our world becomes
increasingly diverse, we must help children get along with
others from different races, groups, and backgrounds.
means “variety,” the wide range of differences between
and among individuals and cultures.
Be a positive role model
become aware of the attitudes and bias of their family,
friends, and caregivers at an early age.
comfortable do you feel with people of different races or cultures?
about people who have a handicap or disability?
comfortable do you feel talking about differences in religious beliefs or child rearing practices?
do you know about the cultural backgrounds of the
families and children in your care? How could you find out
Awareness and knowledge
are skills we can use to respect and appreciate diversity. Children are our best teachers
Children provide wonderful opportunities for discussing
diversity because they forthrightly ask a lot of questions.
that girl’s hair so curly?”
that boy have such dark skin?”
that lady wearing that funny outfit?”
is natural; it only becomes a problem if a negative value
is attached to the difference. You can use the children’s
questions and incidents that may happen during the day as
an opening to talk about differences and about being fair
and kind in their dealings with each other.
How do you teach
children about respect?
children feel good about themselves. Children who
have poor self-images are more likely to develop prejudices.
Encourage them to see strengths in themselves and others.
about “stereotypes” – judgments made about another based on their physical appearance or cultural heritage.
Talk about how unfair such judgments are.
any hurtful incidents that happen. Let the child
find solutions. Encourage the child to think about how the other person might be
“no teasing and no name-calling” a firm rule.
Often young children
do not know the meaning of the words that they use, but
they do know that certain words will get a reaction from
others. Children need to learn that such language can hurt.
Putting others down hurts the other’s feelings and
does not help the child feel better about himself.
Provide a culturally diverse environment
One way to celebrate
diversity is to literally make it the background for every
Use wall-art and posters featuring different racial and cultural groups, sex, and physical abilities. Show people not just in traditional garb but also in everyday clothing.
books that show a wide variety of people at work
and play. Choose images that show a balance of men and women
doing similar jobs, and include people with disabilities.
dolls, particularly baby dolls to care for, of different skin and hair colors.
dress-ups and items for dramatic play that depict
both male and female and a balance of cultures.
paints, crayons, and other art materials that can be used to show a wide range of skin tones.
ethnic celebrations, art, food, and music from different cultures. Play music from many different cultures and
let children dance and sing along.
individual styles and cultural differences part of everyday
routine.Celebrate diversity with the holidays!
Holidays are another way to learn about cultural
celebrate in different ways. Within cultures, individual
families frequently have their own unique traditions as
well. Be sensitive to different customs and traditions children
All cultures celebrate
with food. Let the children help with planning the food
and activities for special celebrations as much as possible.
If the children have been actively involved in planning,
it increases their excitement and enjoyment and
they are more apt to try foods that are new for them.
No big deal
is celebrated everyday in many different ways, children
see differences as “no big deal.”
SOURCE SITE: CLICK HERE