Is Really Caring for your Partner Old Fashioned or ‘Out-dated’?
This week I had a day stay in hospital for a small procedure. It was a private hospital handling elective surgery so the nursing ratios were higher and there were no emergencies happening.
After a lot of rushing to get my ‘obs’ done and prepared to go up to theatre I was left to wait my turn for the surgeon. I was propped up on pillows in a bed even though I was perfectly healthy and parked in a booth.
For some reason, only known to the surgeon, he elected to operate first on a patient whose operation took 5 hours, rather than myself and another lady whose procedures were known to take 15 minutes each!!! This gave me 5 hours with nothing to do but to observe my surroundings and the people around me. This is an extremely rare event for me, who is always managing 5 things at once and doesn’t even get on a bus without a list of things to read or do, just in case I have 30 seconds spare.
My only option was to watch and listen while the nursing staff followed many pre-set processes, such as follow up calls (not really having any interest to the answers to the questions they asked), rearranging rosters, ordering supplies, discussing days off, booking training courses to obtain various certifications etc., as well as discussing the latest gossip.
Occasionally, they would walk past my bed but practiced the art of pretending that no one was there by studiously involving an eye contact or engagement of any type.
After about two hours, I finally got one of the nurses’ attention to ask if I could call my husband as he was downstairs in the ward I was due to return to. He would be very worried that I had not reappeared, as he also knew it was just a 15-minute procedure. He would be fearing that there was a complication of some sort, especially as an anaesthetic was involved. He wouldn’t want me to be alone. I also didn’t want him sitting there not knowing that I hadn’t even gone into theatre yet.
The nurse I asked acted like a deer caught in the headlights and scampered off to the supervisor, who I had listened to for the past 2 hours barking orders and going through the motions of following processes so, in the event of litigation, they could prove they had ‘done their job’. She came to my bedside and in the sickliest ‘customer service’ voice I have ever heard asked if I wanted my husband to come up and sit with me. I said that would be wonderful if she could contact him, as I knew he would be worrying, and if he was able to come up he might as well bring my book. Three times I reiterated that I was requesting the call as I didn’t want my husband to worry, yet the only message that seemed to have been heard was that I wanted my book, as this was all that got relayed to the ward on the floor below!!!
This got me thinking (with a little help from my astute daughter), do we see others by the state of our own relationships? Why couldn’t the Supervisor understand the concept that partners really care about each other and would be worried? Why was she focused so much on my book, rather than his feelings? Has process desensitised us or was this supervisor unable to associate with love? Was this temporary, had she had a bad experience, a bad day or lived in a bad relationship? Is it unusual or old fashioned to worry about how our partner is feeling?
I was reminded of the three levels of relationships that Anthony Robbins teaches.
Level 1 – All about “me”.
Level 2 – It’s about exchange (apparently the most dangerous level)
Level 3 – Puts their needs above your own and willingly do everything to meet that need and expect (or want) nothing in return. There is no feeling of sacrifice as it is pure joy to give.
When two people are playing at Level 3, they find ways to help each other, to make each other happy, to really care so the relationship gets better and better. If only one person is trying to play at Level 3, then chances are the other partner is playing at Level 1.
Living a Level 3 relationship means that when others criticise or attack your partner, or in this case – cannot conceive they would be worried, you don’t feel the need to defend or react, as you know they either have an agenda or are in an unsatisfying relationship.
So how do you get into a Level 3 relationship, or how do you know when you are in one? Here are a few ideas and tips:
#1 Do you look for ways to help them when they are down, stressed or out of sorts? Do you find your heart swells when they show you that you have ‘hit the right spot’?
#2 Is it automatic to kiss each other hello, goodnight or any time you feel like it and for no reason? Do you hug or touch often, even if you are not the huggy type?
#3 You don’t need to find or focus on the negative when they snap at you or aren’t as loving back, as you know that it is temporary; and you certainly don’t feel the need to reciprocate or get even.
#4 When making a decision you want it to be right for the both of you.
#5 You argue, but you don’t have to be right to feel loved!
#6 You feel like your relationship continues to grow and mature, even if you have been together for a long time.
#7 Other couples wish that had ‘what you’ve got’.
Over the course of our relationships we all move between Levels 1, 2 and 3. What really matters is that you make it your goal to be at Level 3 and that you don’t let hurt, resentment and just life get in the way.
Most of all, really enjoy each other.
Author and experienced relationship coach, Gillian Andale is the owner of Love2Last, a coaching and resource centre dedicated to couples who have found love again, want a new beginning and aim to strengthen and grow their relationship as well as need help in blended family situations. Visit www.love2last.co to browse and see the wealth of information available.