When you hear those words just before your partner adds what they want you to do for them, it is only natural that you feel you are about to be blackmailed. It is just as bad as when someone precedes a statement with ‘I’m afraid…’. Surely doom follows.
The truth is that the basis for any relationship between two people is the belief that one cares for/about the feelings of the other. If you find yourself constantly needing to remind the other of the need to ‘care’ enough to put your feelings ahead of theirs, ask yourself : do I care enough about them so as to let them make the decision of how to care by themselves?
We live in an inherently selfish world. People are generally more concerned about how every situation will best suit them. Unfortunately, that attitude has crept into relationships. No one wants to be the others fool or ‘maga’ as we say here in Nigeria. But really, isn’t that what relationships are about. We both agree to be the others fool. If you always put my feelings above yours and are assured that I will put yours above mine, wouldnt we be happier in our relationships.
This issue of putting the others feelings above ours can be the key to resolving most relationship issues, if not all of them. Think of this: would a person who puts their partners interests above theirs cheat on them? The first thought that would come to the persons mind when they start getting attracted to someone else surely would be: How will my partner feel if they found out about this?
What if after agreeing on the family budget, one of the partners find that they are prone to hiding some funds like Ananias and Saphira in bible times? The question again: how will my partner feel if they found out. And even if they never found out, would you really want the same done to you?
Even on a matter as simple as body odour. If you genuinely care about others you would know that no one would be smiling if your presence keeps fouling up the air. You would be an embarrassment to your partner at the least…even if they can’t smell. Same goes for your dressing and grooming. You would want to always appear on such a way as to make your partner proud of you. I know of families where one partners lack of personal hygiene has been a constant source of conflict.
What if you genuinely feel that you are doing your 100% to care but the other is not and so each time you find yourself throwing up the ‘if you really care’ card? It would be a good idea to find time to discuss your feelings openly before a situation that makes you need to play that card arises.
Most people in meaningful relationships take out time to discuss how issues like these will be handled well before they arise. You may not be able to set rules for every ‘care’ situation, but you will be able to set principles that will cover most situations. For example, you can have something like: if you notice I have not showing care, bring it up just before we sleep at night and mention in specific terms what upsets you. You could have a rule of resolving all conflicts before you sleep at night.
If you really care, you will have a communication system in place.