As it appeared in the Botswana Sunday Standard on June 9, 2013, Systemic Thinking Column
In the previous segment of this column, we concluded it was not as easy for someone to be sexually fidel till one learns to build and enjoy “emotional fidelity” with one’s partner.
It can be easy to miss this point.
Yet it becomes significant when we explore the link between the state of emotional fidelity between couples and the state of HIV/AIDS prevalence as a nation.
How are they inter-related, you ask?
It can be difficult to imagine that something that exists at a personal level can have an impact on a national level. Yet, when we see the phenomena happen across families, communities, districts to the region, it is not difficult to see that they can and do have a significant and growing influence on the level of the epidemic as a nation.
Our medical caregivers then give their all to fight it for the nation. It is really admirable how they do so, even when we know we have not made it easy for them.
Last week, we explored that developing emotional fidelity is the exclusive work of the couple. No one can do that for them. The parents and the community around a couple may encourage marriage and the ability to stay in one. But, not much more. And certainly not foster emotional fidelity.
This aspect therefore, is now beyond “the control” of SADC, or as the national planning commissions or the government or the Ministry of Health, the caregivers, or even as an NGO. We control what we can. But till we as couples learn to reach this, leaving the work of beating the epidemic to an outside organization, will not assure us of success in this issue as a nation!
Yet, what is emotional fidelity and what influences it?
We saw that this state begins when the couple works at meeting and fulfilling the emotional needs of one’s partner.
And then we discovered that the emotional needs of one’s partner (of the opposite gender) are typically different from that of one’s own.
For example, when a man sees his woman trust him, it meets an emotional need for the male partner. And seeing the man give care to his woman meets an emotional need for the female partner.
Both genders need both emotions. Just not to the same extent. To feel fulfilled as their gender in the relationship each as a unique emotional need.
When a woman meets and fulfils a man’s need to see his woman trusts him, it allows him to feel more so like a man. Even when we think, he is not worthy of the trust, the more the man sees the woman learns to see ‘the good side’ of him and trusts him, the more he moves to a state of feeling fulfilled. This stage is important for his feelings of masculinity to grow for him which in turn fosters a need within him to provide, protect and care for his woman.
While a man can trust his woman, it matters even more so to her, when she sees he cares for her. The more he cares for his woman; it allows her to feel true to her gender as a woman. And the more that allows her to grow feminine feelings as a woman; it allows her to grow and give trust to her man.
Did we see a cycle of causality that exists between the two genders, in meeting their respective emotional needs?
The more that a man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him!
Period. This is where the trick lies in bringing a couple together. It is growing the cycle of meeting their respective but different emotional needs.
The bottom-line is they are not meant to be self-fulfilling nor meant to fulfil in ways that one thinks it should be for the partner from one’s point of view. But from the view of one’s partner. No other relationship quite teaches us to learn this point.
We often say relationships are not straightforward. That statement is truer than we believe.
It is not meant to be. Otherwise separation and divorces become the only ways out back to our straightforward lives.
The relationships between couples are meant to be cyclical.
The more the woman trusts her man, the more he cares for her. The more the man cares for his woman, the more she trusts him.
Couples, who learn this subtle shift in difference in their relationship in the way they relate to their partner, often realize greater levels of fulfilment between them.
I then left you with two further questions.
How would we know that these indeed are the respective needs of the two genders? And who should start first?
Notice when a man or a woman is in a heated discussion with each other, what would the man or woman typically say to the other? Would the man usually say “just trust me” or would he say, “you do not care for me!”? Whose voice do you typically hear say these words? What did you hear in your own relationship?
It is more common for us to hear a woman say, “you do not care for me”, while a man often asks of the woman ‘to just trust him’. We do leave clues in our relationships about our needs for our partners. We just need to find them. When a woman tries to reach her man, it is not because she does not trust him by as much as for her to feel the experience of his assurance of care for her. This is not a formula. It is a natural emotional need that exists separately for the two genders.
Who should start first? Do I wait for my partner to fulfil my emotional needs first before I try to meet his? Of course, that becomes self-defeating since, by doing so, we have already come from a place of the self rather than for the other.
However, this depends on the extent such needs have been met for the individual from their past relationships. The less it has been met, the more it becomes important for the partner to meet those needs for his or her partner first.
For example, the first man a woman learned to trust was her father. However, if she did not enjoy a trusting relationship with her father, it now becomes important that her boyfriend or husband learns to fulfil and meet that need for his woman before he may expect her to learn to trust him. In time, she will. One would have to learn to be patient till one reaches that stage.
And then there are five other types of emotional needs that are different for men and women. Have you found out what they are?
Here, I will leave you with two more each for each gender and they will become the subject of the column’s discussion for next week while you continue to figure what the other remaining three emotional needs are for the respective genders (there are twelve types of love or emotional needs in total …. no one said it was going to be that easy, did they?).
How true are they for you? How would you tell these distinctions?
Happy discussing these with your spouse and discovering these needs from each other!
Ms Sheila Damodaran works as a Systemic Strategy Development consultant currently developing her practice with national planning commissions in southern Africa. She welcomes comments and queries for her programmes at https://www.facebook.com/SystemicThinkingColumnist or call DID: 3931518.