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How Much is Your Nurturing Worth?

Are you the sort of person who takes good care of your mate? Brings a fresh box of tissues bedside during the flu? Gets up to make breakfast every morning? Washes, matches, and lovingly folds socks? Shows up for a goodbye kiss at the door? Fusses over the kids to make sure they feel securely cared for?

How much nurturing do you feel you deserve in return?

Great kindness is a character strength. Exercising a character strength impresses other folks, but it also makes us feel really good about ourselves and what we know how to do. It is its own reward. At least it is until we're feeling needy and start keeping score.

When we keep score, we get it wrong if we expect as much nurturing as we have given. Our mates possess--and feel good about using--different strengths. What we get in return may be creativity or integrity or perseverance, and all the benefits they generate.

My husband, Ed, has the world's greatest sense of humor. He knows how to lighten a mood and how to approach work playfully. I could never offer him as much good humor in return. It's not one of my top strengths.

Which strengths of character does your spouse use to express love and concern for you? Are they same ones you use, or are they different?


His character strengths lean more towards doing things for me, like fixing a flat tire, shoveling snow in the driveway and washing the dishes. Those are lovely expressions of love, but sometimes I could really use more romance and sweet-talking.

Oh, one more: lately he has been encouraging me to go walk with him at our local shopping mall, which is good for both of us.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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