If we can teach and encourage people to get along and love well,
we can change marriages, families and communities.
We could impact the world.
How does the way we were loved and cared for growing up impact the way we get along in marriage and even the way we parent?
Our first relationships are with our parents and caregivers.
We are born into a family and there in the loving arms of our first important relationships we learn about love, life, ourselves and others, and these relationships become the template for how we love throughout our life.
The basic building blocks to a safe, secure, loving attachment/relationship bond is trust, availability and responsiveness. Your early relationship experiences of people’s trust, availability and responsiveness shapes your internal template for how trustworthy, available and responsive you are, or how you think others will be in future relationships.
Trustworthy– the person is dependable, reliable, and you could trust them to be emotionally stable, predictable and safe. You can trust the person with ‘you.’
Availability– the person most important to you is available emotionally and physically. They are emotionally attuned to you and physically show up to be there for you.
Responsiveness – the person considers you and responds in a caring and thoughtful way. You can depend on the person to be there in a considerate manner.
Secure Way of Loving: Your parents were trustworthy, available emotionally and physically, and responded to your needs in a caring and timely manner. As a result, you gained a secure sense of yourself and others. Your parents didn’t need to be perfect, just good enough. Sometimes you had to wait to be picked up, or you realized you couldn’t get everything you needed, but you gained an inner sense that you were loved and you could get the love you needed. This inner sense of security carries over into your marriage where you view your spouse as a good person who will be there for you, and difficulties can be resolved.
Avoidant Way of Loving: When you reached for the comfort of your parents, you were rejected and realized you could not emotionally rely on others and had to take care of yourself, so you became more independent and self-sufficient. You bring into marriage a sense of independence, everyone take care of themselves. You probably feel emotions get in the way and best to be logical during conflict.
This often makes your spouse feel you are not attuned to their needs and sometimes uncaring.
Anxious Way of Loving: Growing up, the care-giving you received was possibly inconsistent, or your care-giver intrusive. Sometimes caregivers gave you what you needed, other times they were not there and you learned that to be noticed you had to be really good, or up the ante to get attention. But the uncertainty created the anxiousness that questions, “Are you there for me or not,” and often you have to double check your spouse’s love and attention. “Are you sure you liked the cookies I made, you really sure? Promise?”
Often the more an anxious spouse asks their avoidant spouse for reassurance, the avoidant spouse becomes irritated and frustrated, hurting the feelings of the anxious spouse.
Fearful Way of Loving: Growing up you realized the very person you were turning to for comfort was the very person who was hurting you. This put you in a dilemma, “I really need your comfort, but you disciplined too harshly, neglected me or abused me.”
In marriage, you long to be loved but fear you will be hurt. So, you love more like a yo-yo, “I love you, come close, then I push you away in case you will hurt me.” You will also second guess whether or not your spouse loves you as they say, or is faithful and you tend to fear that the other shoe will drop and something will happen.
This is often very puzzling and hurtful to your spouse who doesn’t understand why you can’t lean in and trust.
It is not only interesting, but important to know your (and your spouse’s) attachment style, that is, the template you bring into marriage about how you will be loved and what you will need to react to get the love you long for. It will help you understand a bit more why you put certain intentions onto your spouse and why you react the way you do when you are hurt, or need a bit of attention or lovin’.
Getting along with the person you love the most can often be the most difficult and seemingly complicated task. Yes, as sweet as it is to wake up with the spouse you love and who really loves you, marriage is hard work.
Loving well is the heart of God, it is the greatest commandment Matthew 22:37 says “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.”
We were created to love and be loved. But to love well takes courage and depth of character, it requires personal growth and maturity.
At the heart of our vision at Safe Haven Relationship Center is to help you grow as a person so you can love well. Over 700 couples have experienced a Safe Haven Marriage Intensive with Dr. Sharon May, and several thousand couples, counselors, pastors and individuals have either attended a Safe Haven training, seminar or workshop. We would like to gather the many people who have been impacted by Safe Haven, and provide blogs, webinars, seminars and trainings so to help you, the Safe Haven community, continue to grow and love well.
Because our relationships are so vitally important to our souls and lives, loving well is life impacting. To love well, we will need to grow as a person and mature. We will need to learn how to get along, deal with hurts and conflict and learn patience, kindness, the art of saying sorry and forgiving and live with disappointments and differences with integrity.
Loving well is a life long journey.
Let’s grow together so to love well. In doing so we will change our marriage, family, community and our world.
Sharon May, Ph.D.
P.S. If you couldn’t join us on our last webinar last week we will be sending out a link so you can watch it on your own.
Join Dr. Sharon May for our September 4, 2018 webinar on “The way we love: Attachment” and discover your relationship attachment style.