I prepared this blog some weeks before the shut (prefer that to lock) down. I then re read it during the start of the Pandemic and found little to alter. Now, crossing fingers that we are nearing the back end of restriction, I have read so much which bears out how important acknowledgement is to mental health in the human psyche.
I think my Coupleworks colleagues might agree that lack of acknowledgement is often felt by one or the other in a partnership. This, when described during the work with a couple, is often more about small things than more obvious omissions.
An illustration of this might be an everyday task which is boring and dreary yet very necessary to the functioning of couple and family life. These small tasks are being highlighted during this period of shutdown and a feeling of having no control. Interestingly, the ‘telling’ of families by the powers that be what to do out of necessity for everyone’s health and welfare, pushes people back to their childhood when children are expected to do what they are told.
Except in a Dystopian state which we have only experienced second hand in science fiction films, being told what to do is not something any adult human being likes or finds easy to accept. Lack of control is a difficult thing for everyone. For some, however, who found for whatever reason in their childhood, things were not in control this feeling of helplessness and lack of worth is very uncomfortable and painful.
One of the things which all of us do have control over at the moment is how we co-exist with other people living in lock down. This is can be a bonus or a flash point for us because it gives more thinking time for how we behave towards our partner during a period which is new to most of us and whether that is more or less beneficial for acts of kindness and consideration.
The most important facility we have in these circumstances is how we respond to small things which in life before lock down we failed to attend to in response to each other’s efforts.
Preparation of meals. Setting the table with things we know the other people like to see and eat. Making sure the home space is attractive to others and that personal untidiness is kept to a minimum. How does the next person in the shower like it to be left? Which programme is the one to be watched. Giving each other attention when it might be more fun and interesting to be on the phone or another device. Shutting a door or turning out a light, clearing out the washing machine, emptying the bins and making sure the full one is ready for the collector on the right day. These are only a few of the everyday things which have a tendency to go unnoticed and taken for granted.
Sometimes if we pick up little hints in conversation and comply with the hint, the gesture goes a long way to giving and receiving real love.
How often do these important, but not life threatening, things get acknowledged or are they ignored? At the start of a relationship, it is often the noticing of some small gesture which seals the growing of love and sadly so often it is the first thing to take for granted and leave unsaid as the relationship develops.
Listening and hearing disappears from the daily life of stress and contributes to the distancing and buried hurt.
Using this period of time to be more conscious of showing we have noticed how our lock down companions try to make things easier for everyone, will pay dividends when we are all back to a more familiar pattern of life. These gestures need to be attended to and not be allowed to slide back into indifference and thoughtlessness.
The attached picture of a well know figure illustrates how far a gentle, kind, generous and self effacing human being can go in terms of acknowledgement from others.