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Carnations are Red, Part 2

Carnations are red…

Attunement Shows that my Love is True Blue

In our last blog we wrote to you of a love story, “Carnations are Red. Her hair was Blue.” This was a true account of how a husband, George, consistently gave his wife, Mae, a red carnation every week for decades. We loved this story because George displayed two key dimensions of Secure Attachment, “Consistency” and “Just Thinking of You.”

Along with our “Consistency and Thinking”, it’s so important that our actions line up with what our spouses are longing for. That’s called “Attunement” in the Attachment literature.

Attunement means that we pay close enough attention to our spouses to see what they like and what they currently need. This is based on tracking their signals, both nonverbal and verbal, along with their responses.

This helps ensure that your thoughtful efforts have their intended impact.

“Work smarter, not harder.”

April has another great story to share. Along with the story of George and Mae, she also recalled an account that started off on a rockier road.

She actually heard this one in a very transparent sermon that a pastor shared. We’ll call him Pastor Mike, and he is married to a woman whom we’ll call Trina.

Mike was especially pleased that he had found a local farm with a flower stand on his drive home from work every day. What a great find! Lovely flowers, and his funds were supporting a local farm. Everything was setting up nicely. Mike picked up three or four colorful bouquets over the course of a couple months, and he was feeling pretty good about himself.

After a while he noticed that Trina was not as interested in his gifts to her. On about the fifth bouquet, her eyes seemed to start glazing over as she forced a smile for the flowers in front of her.

What was going on? Mike was doing a thoughtful and romantic deed, not once but 5 times!

There was a cooling off on the flowers for the next few weeks, until Thanksgiving arrived. Trina was hosting the family that year, and Mike remembered how much she enjoyed fresh flowers on the dining table for the big family meal. Mike set across town to buy a special floral centerpiece at a more suburban flower shop. It was tasteful, creative, and very autumnal. The piece was very nice, but it was somewhat understated.

Trina’s response was over the moon!

She was elated with this purchase, and she overflowed with gratitude. There was more than gratitude, for that night she initiated sex with him even amidst all the busy holiday preparations. She was truly touched, and her heart was full.

What made the difference?

After the holiday, Mike found an opportunity to ask Trina more about it.

She told him, “I liked the flowers from the farm stand, but I kind of realized that it was a convenience for you to just stop and buy them on your way home. It was convenient for you, and it became less about me. But, when you drove clear across town to buy something that you know is so important to me when I host the family…. I felt like a top priority! I felt seen, known, and supported by you.”

That is what Attunement is all about. Mike is a good husband, and his flower gifting sets him apart from many husbands. Yet, his noticing of Trina’s specific need at the holidays, and the effort he put into purchasing the centerpiece moved him into the “great husband” category.

He had combined “Just Thinking of You” with a solid dose of “Attunement”, and the results stand out to them both till this day.

Dr. Jesse created a helpful acronym to help couples remember the ingredients of Secure Attachment in marriage. “Face to Face T. V.”—

Face to Face—where we gaze upon and notice our beloved; look them in the eyes.

Touch—includes affectionate, tender, and welcomed sexual touch.

Vulnerable sharing of emotions—lets our spouse into deeper needs and longings.

As we think about Attunement, the Face to Face gazing is the really the first step towards seeing and knowing your spouse’s signals and responses. We hope that you will take time each day to connect in Face to Face TV with your spouse. You can learn more about making a daily practice of this when you read Dr. Jesse’s book “Face to Face: Seven Keys to a Secure Marriage.” There are many details about this in the Fifth Key of this book.

One final note, from our story stands out. We appreciate how hard Mike was trying, and he would have benefited if Trina had been able to be Vulnerable with him a bit earlier in the story. It’s not all up to one spouse to be a mind reader in the practice of Attunement. The receiving spouse needs to communicate too. It’s possible that it just took Trina a few weeks to articulate her feelings. Or there may have been some other obstacles to being vulnerable.

This article was originally published on Face to Face Living

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