In all relationships there is a push and pull of closeness and distance. Some people need more belonging while others need more autonomy or space. In the Psychological literature these ideas are discussed in terms of attachment. Attachment is the emotional bond built with our caregivers in the earliest days of life and those bonds show themselves throughout various stages of development even lasting into adulthood.
Think about how you like to feel supported by your spouse. For some of us an explicit expression of help is a welcome gesture and brings about a sense of appreciation. For others, an explicit effort to help makes us feel more stressed and even annoyed. Appreciating what tasks our partner’s feel confident with is the key to being appropriately supportive. These are the findings of the authors of a research study in 2017.
With the arrival of COVID-19 and the resulting isolation measures in place, all Canadians have felt some impact on family dynamics. This means that parents have been managing their children more of the time and engaging in what researchers call family work. This family work generally takes on three forms: housework, child rearing and emotion work. While housework and child rearing can be easily observed, emotion work is done covertly and is not easily seen or measured.
I have noticed that a new perspective can have a powerful impact on a marriage. We are so often stuck in our own vantage point and are unable to see how this perspective blocks any other.
There is a great deal of focus in the therapeutic community for empathy in relationships. Many a therapist in a couple’s counselling session has attempted to increase the empathy of one spouse toward the other in the hope of increasing their emotional intimacy.