Lifelong Attention Secures Happy Unions

All living organisms require attention to survive and thrive. Infants, children, adults, animals and even plants wither and wilt without sufficient care and attention. Attention is needed not only for our physical survival but also for our psychological health and wellbeing and is a necessary element for relationship health. How we provide and receive attention determines the nature and duration of our love relationship.

In “What Brain Research Says About Paying Attention” Researchers Robert Sylwester and Joo-Yun Cho state, “Our ability to maintain attention is affected by normal cyclical fluctuations in the efficacy of the neurotransmitter molecules that chemically regulate attention.” In his neurological sleep studies Researcher J. Allan Hobson found that these fluctuations occur in ninety-minute cycles throughout each day.

These findings are enlightening in understanding some individuals’ fatigue and need to withdraw from conversations or emotional exchanges when their attention span reaches the ninety-minute limit.

Psychologically, the need for attention of a caring parent, friend, spouse or any other being is an essential part of human connectedness. Through talking and being listened to we receive ongoing affirmation of our worthiness that, when reciprocated, creates an emotional connection, loving bond and a sense of wellbeing for both individuals.

I have identified five attention stages experienced by many individuals in relationships: They are: 1. “ME” 2. “WE” 3. “SEE” 4. “RE” (structuring). 5. Back to “ME” again.

In the early phases of courtship, each partner’s attention is solely focused on his/her new love interest. The quest of finding a suitable and beloved mate who can understand, appreciate and value ME is often long and exhausting. It requires honest presentation, clarified values and preferences and assessments of mutual compatibility about one’s need-fulfillment.

Once both parties have been reassured that they were seen, heard, liked and valued and experienced a mutually gratifying attention, they may proclaim the second stage of “WE”.

With time, the pair may move to the “SEE” stage in which their attention capitalizes on mutual friends, personal pursuits, activities, adventures, trips and fun.

After a while, healthy pairs become aware that their busy lives has diluted their mutual attention sharing and may elect to refocus on each other.

The fifth stage of the “Me” again, does not happen to all couples but may follow widowhood or a life disappointment about their bond that may propel one or both to re-focus his/her attention on solitary interests.

Willing oneself to create a lifelong mutually harmonious relationship requires refocusing one’s attention on the partner’s emotional, physical and intellectual needs while vigilantly expressing one’s joy about the mate and their union.

Manage your attention giving,

  • Practice daily physical, emotional and appreciative attention to your mate. It is likely to secure a happy union for both of you.
  • Provide daily one or more ninety-minute cycles of positive attention to your mate.
  • Remember that daily positive attention is a gift that keeps on giving to both of you as it cements your loving bond.


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About Author

Offra Gerstein, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist in clinical practice in Santa Cruz, California for over 25 years, and specializes in relationship issues for couples and individuals for improved quality of life. Her work includes: mate selection, marriage, long term relationships, gay and lesbian couples, work relationships, parenting issues, family interactions, friendships, and conflict resolutions. Offra has lectured extensively to various groups, conducted support groups for several organizations, and has been writing a weekly column "Relationship Matters" for the Santa Cruz Sentinel since 2001.

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