What does it take for us to feel cherished? Before our divorce, I used to tell my ex-husband I wanted to feel cherished. I believed it meant being seen and loved as myself — not for taking care of the house, not for feeding the kids or for having sex with him. I wanted to feel like there was something about me that he found wonderful.
Relief from parenting anxiety
While listening to an incredible new podcast called Armchair Expert by actor Dax Shepard, I heard a phrase that helped clarify further what it looks like to cherish someone. The phrase was “Enchanted with your enchantment”.
Before I talk about the phrase, I want to say how much I love, love, love this episode of the podcast! On this particular episode of Dax’s Armchair Expert, his guest was an actual expert, Dr. Wendy Mogel. Dr. Mogel is a child psychologist and author of three books including: The Blessing of a B Minus (which I just ordered), The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and Voice Lessons for Parents.
They talked about everything from food allergies to religion to parenting anxiety to appreciating your spouse. I laughed out loud at least two times. I saw myself in the examples almost every time. Relief flooded me as I listened to Dr. Mogel’s wisdom and Dax’s candidness and goofy laugh.
The joy of being wanted
Dr. Mogel used the phrase “enchanted with your enchantment” twice and I’m glad she did. It made me curious about its meaning.
Dax Shepard told a charming story of visiting his grandparents as a kid every summer in Livonia, Michigan. Yeah! Shout out to the Michigan people, of whom I am one. Dr. Mogel asked him what about his visit with his grandparents made it so special.
He said he was raised by a single mom of three. There was not a lot of individual attention and fun extras. His grandparents made him feel so wanted. They cared about what he wanted and liked. They were curious about what he was curious about. They were enchanted with his enchantment.
I could tell a very similar story. I visited my grandparents for a week in the summer, starting when I was ten. I remember Grandma buying special little boxes of sugary cereal for me, taking me shopping at the mall and searching for collector dolls with me at antique stores and rummage sales.
It was not a burden for them to have me. It was a joy. They did not just tolerate my presence and requests. They seemed genuinely happy to spend time with me. There was no agenda to teach me how to excel at school, get a job, be an upstanding citizen. It was just them caring for and listening to me.
I felt cherished.
Grandparents fortify us
I wish all children blessed relationships with their grandparents. Grandparents have the luxury of seeing children in the big picture. They get to ‘spoil’ them with genuine interest and junk food and it fortifies the child to his or her core.
Grandparents don’t have the same pressure parents do to mold their grandchildren into perfect successful humans. Although, I do know of many grandparents serving as parents to their grandkids. In those situations, grandparenting is much like parenting.
How wanted does our partner feel?
Our adult romantic relationships greatly benefit from moments of enchantment too. So often we focus on the happiness and success of our children. We forget to get curious about what makes our partner delighted. We don’t buy them the special cereal they love because it is not good for the kids or we put off talking with them until the kids go to bed, which means we’re often tired by the time we give them attention.
Turning toward our partner and listening raptly as they tell us about a new solution at work is not the norm. In many ways we treat our spouses like parents treat children. We don’t have the time and energy to consistently enchant or be enchanted. We we see our partners every day so it is difficult to create fresh curiosity for each other.
Seeing our spouse with fresh eyes
But what if we made space to amplify our spouse’s enthusiasm? What if we saw them as a person, and not a project? What if we joined them in adventures that fuel them, like antique hunting, motorcycle riding, fishing, etc.? At some point every day, if we could make our partners feel wanted and cherished, we would create that fortifying connection many of us had with our grandparents.
We are at a stage in our relationships that affords time to see each other anew when we get together. We do not live together yet. Often we do not have kids with us. We get to focus on each other. We get to spoil each other.
When I’m truly on my game, I remember to ask Mark, my fiancé, what he thinks about something or what he wants at that moment.
I will work to stay enchanted with what enchants Mark once we are married and under the same roof. I will work to make him feel cherished.
Knowing there is someone who cherishes us in this world gives us the fortifications and resilience to get through the times when we don’t feel seen or wanted.
Who has made you feel cherished? What did they do to make you feel special? How do you and your partner show enchantment with each other?