06/06/2009 05:12 am ET | Updated Nov 17, 2011

Love Me Tending, Love Me Sweet...If You Want to Thrive

Do you tend to the needs of your mate? The early man who tended to the needs of his woman increased the likelihood that she would care for him in turn, as well as provide a loving and secure environment for their children. Similarly, the early woman who tended to the needs of her bedmate was more likely to keep him providing for her and their children, and I'm sure it doesn't surprise you that when partners nurture each other, both experience positive results.

Tending, a term often used for care giving in marriage is a life enhancer for the entire family. A plethora of research confirms this point so that it is not surprising that Mother Nature ensures that those couples who apply their instinctual tool of care giving to each other will thrive.

How might you best tend to your own partner and marriage? Here are two evolutionary guided recommendations. The first: Tend to your partner's physical health. In the early millennia, women who ensured that their mates were well rested, fed fresh food, and who freed them from the stresses of having to deal with household responsibilities and troubles were more likely to keep their mates healthier so they could be good providers. It's not surprising that today married men are healthier and make more money than single men. For women, tending to her partner's health enhanced her own life.

Likewise, the early man who tended to his partner's physical health, by keeping her well fed, kept her in good shape for the tasks of child bearing and child raising, to say nothing of the energy required to sweep dirt floors.

How tuned in are you to your partner's health? Do you know when your partner is due for crucial check-ups and do you urge him or her to have them. Do you encourage your partner to eat healthy and exercise daily? When your partner is tired, do you tell her or him to relax while you take care of her needs?

The second recommendation: Tend to your partner's mental health in an area she/he finds stressful. For example, women's health is damaged severely by marital conflict and conflict with friends and family members. This is understandable when you consider that many of the responsibilities women had to succeed in, such as child rearing and food gathering, depended on their ability to forge relationships with other women. Conflict in these relationships posed a threat to a woman succeeding, and thus by extension, a threat to her keeping her partner.

Men, who want to be more tending are continually tuned in to the news of their partner's relationships, especially to conflict that be happening with her friends, family and children. When she appears to be distressed over these relationships or wants to vent about the, the tending male listens, perhaps helps her problem solve, and does both sweetly.

In contrast, men find career events and work relationships to be their own major source of distress; not surprising when you remember that the hardwired role of provider still plays out today. A bad hunt or conflict with the chieftain was sure to be as stressful as today's bad day at the office and tiff with the boss. A tending female now needs to be supportive and encouraging to her partner's work efforts. Let him know you are tuned in to the economic realities of the world, and do it sweetly too.

Many studies bear out this gender difference; women manifest more adverse physiological reactions when speaking about marital conflict and family relationship problems, whereas men, in the same studies show little detrimental response when these subjects are discussed but show adverse physiological responses when they speak of problems and conflicts at work.

It is clear that partners who tend to each other reap individual and marital benefits and ensure they will have a longer life span and healthier and happier lives, more of the better than the worse.

I'd like to hear how you tend to your partner.