Attachment is something that humans need from the time they are born. When babies and mothers interact, if the mother is attuned to the baby, they develop a strong attachment bond, that can lead to a healthy attachment style.
Jak and I have done so much work on our relationship in the past year it’s insane! We really work hard to make our relationship not only work but make our relationship thrive. We love each other deeply and as two individuals coming together we see things very differently. We both know that we have anxious-ambivalent attachment styles due to the way we grew up. We also have worked on being able to feel securely attached, but we as humans are always a work in progress.
Psychology 101: Attachment styles for children is a well-known theory in psychology. There are three main attachment styles which include secure, anxious-ambivalent, and avoidant. Secure attachment is the healthiest attachment style a child can develop. Secure children often have mothers who are attentive to their children and are available even when inconvenient for the mother. Anxious-ambivalent children often grew up with mothers who were inconsistent in their love and care giving. Mothers who would be there for their child on their terms, not their child’s terms. Avoidant children have mothers who are often indifferent and not involved in the child’s life, and so the child avoids attachment to any person.
In our couples therapy session that we had last week, we told our therapist that we had been feeling quite distant, but we were able to reconnect, and our therapist was quite impressed that we were able to do that on our own and asked us what was happening. It turned out that we each were impacting the other in both positive and negatives ways without realizing it. Jak has mentioned to me that he likes it when I greet him when he comes home instead of finishing my work on my computer. There are days where I’ve done that, but other days I am swamped and didn’t get things done in time. In therapy, we were able to slow things down and process what was happening for us in that small moment. Jak expressed that he felt that he wasn’t a priority if he got home and I didn’t greet him the way he was hoping. Jak also told me that he felt less important than my writing when I didn’t greet him. I had no idea that in that small moment he felt such strong emotions. I didn’t realize I was making him feel less important and rejected in a way. I was able to express to him that on the days I wasn’t able to get my work done in time and he came through the door I felt guilt for not getting work done to greet him properly. I told him I felt like I had disappointed him and saw myself as a failure both in my work and my relationship. Jak also had no idea that I was feeling those emotions. On those days we usually felt more disconnected from each other and we now understood why. We both inadvertently did things that made us both feel not as important or rejected.
We talked about how we made up from feeling disconnected. Last week I had gotten my work done on time, and I heard the door open. I shut my laptop and ran up to hug him and give him a kiss. He told me that being greeted like that made him feel like I had indeed missed him and that he was important to me. Later that evening he said that the feelings of connection lasted long enough to be able to talk about important issues that we needed to talk about. The fact that he was the one to initiate an important and difficult conversation said to me that our relationship was important. I was really scared that he wasn’t going to address the issue that we were dealing with. I expressed that Jak’s avoidance at times had made me feel that he viewed our relationship as less of a priority than TV in the evenings and it made me feel like I was in this relationship alone at times. It turned out that we both were feeling more than we really knew, but once we slowed down and talked about those key moments that either brought us together or pushed us a part, we were able to see things clearly. We have now realized that those small moments and small actions have so much more meaning than we ever realized. We have been able to take note, understand each other’s feelings, and take action to change the negative cycle that leads to disconnection. We aren’t perfect at this, but we definitely are able to catch the cycle better and say, “I think we are in the cycle. Let’s stop and reconnect.”
This therapy that I’ve mentioned is called EFT, which stands for Emotionally Focused Therapy. I have to say that this type of therapy has been the most beneficial thing to happen to our relationship. Before we knew our cycle, and our deeper feelings, we often had issues communicating clearly and fully to each other and would often miss opportunities to connect. We’ve been in this therapy for a couple months now and our communication, while not perfect, has improved ten fold! I know that Jak and I just got married, and most married people don’t go to therapy unless they are on the brink of a divorce, but I believe it’s never too soon to address a problem or issue. The faster the issue is addressed the less damage that occurs.