We all have the need for security. It is a Natural instinct from the minute we are born. As babies, we have an instinct to reach out to our primary caregivers (usually our parents) for nourishment and protection, and our primary caregivers have an instinct to provide this for us. We form a secure bond which is further facilitated through neurochemicals and hormones.
If our parents are responsive to our needs, this bond enables us to believe that we are we are worthy of love, that when we have needs they will be met, that generally the world is a good place, and people can be trusted. As we grow we begin to explore the world around us from our secure base, and when things go wrong, (we fall and cut our knee, have an argument with a friend), the secure base is the place that we return to for healing, comfort and reassurance. We learn that things can and do go wrong sometimes, but the reassurance we have received means that we know that ultimately, things will be OK. We learn to self-soothe. This means when we are adults, and we make mistakes, we can say to ourselves “I made a mistake, but I’m only human. It will be OK.”
We then move into adult romantic relationships believing the same of our partner. Our relationship becomes our secure base. We trust our partner and they trust us. We believe that we are worthy of our partner’s love and we freely give our love to our partner. We know that we can both be independent and explore the world around us, have different hobbies, interests, careers, friendship groups, knowing that our partner will still be there. We feel generally confident in ourselves and are not dependent on our partner for our self-worth. We allow our partner to get close to us and enjoy the intimacy this type of relationship affords.
It sounds ideal, doesn’t it? This is what is known as a “Secure Attachment”.
But not all of us are fortunate enough to feel so secure in our relationships. And not all of us were able to experience this secure attachment in our early childhood.
The secure attachment can be disrupted by so many different factors – childhood illness, emotional distance, parental neglect, separation from our parents, environmental factors, financial issues, political landscape, the list is endless. And of course there are no perfect parents.
The important thing to know is how central this is for our romantic relationships. When attachment is disrupted, it can mean that forming a secure bond with a romantic partner in later life can be more difficult. There can be issues with trust, emotional distance, insecurity, paranoia, feelings of low self-worth, a fear that your partner may leave you, to name but a few.
And these feelings are incredibly strong. Which, when you think about it, makes sense. When we consider the purpose of this attachment bond when we are newborn and completely vulnerable, the quality of that bond is a matter of life and death. It is linked to our very survival. In fact, in Nature, it is virtually impossible to get any of our other natural needs met (food, water, rest, elimination) when we don’t have security. Part of our brain tells us we are under threat, in danger, and it makes it very hard for us to concentrate on anything else. So when you feel insecure in your relationship, it can be very difficult to enjoy the other aspects of the relationship, and it can affect all the other areas of your life including your physical and emotional wellbeing. Your relationship becomes stressful rather than joyful and harmonious.
Often, my role as a Relationship Coach is to help a couple to form a more secure attachment with each other. To enable couples to create or bring back the joy or harmony in their relationship. This can involve understanding each partner’s attachment style and helping them to then empathise with each other. This is primarily started through effective communication and compassionate conflict resolution.
The more that the couple communicates effectively in a respectful way, without storming off, shutting down, criticising each other, and blaming each other, the more confidence they have that issues can be resolved without arguing. When this happens, the trust builds. When the trust builds, the roots of the relationship begin to grow and anchor the relationship to the earth, forming the secure base. The disrupted attachment styles become secure attachment styles.
And then the real work can begin.
Over the coming days I will be giving you some case study examples of the different attachment styles and how I have helped couples overcome these through effective communication and conflict resolution.
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Until then, remember to maintain and tend to your relationship as you would a beautiful garden, to watch it thrive!
P.S. If you would like me to guide you through your relationship ups and downs, to give you the support you need to make your relationship thrive, sign up for my newsletter which is packed with helpful information and advice. You can also download my FREE Communication Guide for Couples or my Four Seasons Relationship Course, a course delivered over 4 modules, providing you with the foundations for reconnecting with your partner using the four seasons of Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter as a guide. And subscribe to my Facebook Livestreams to make sure you are notified every time I go live, so that you can interact with me and ask me all of your relationship questions.
PPS. COMING SOON: For those of you who feel you would benefit from more in-depth expert guidance, to learn the exact tools and techniques needed for resolving conflict in an effective and loving way, I am soon to release my BRAND NEW Compassionate Conflict for Couples course. This is a 4 week programme designed to guide you and your partner through conflict in a calm, effective and loving way, so that you can go from hurt, frustration and blame, to FINALLY resolving conflict compassionately, positively, and feeling heard – without feeling like you have both lost a battle. I will be posting more information soon but in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information. And the sooner the better because there is a SPECIAL BONUS for the first 10 people to sign up for the course! To make sure you don’t miss out, email me: firstname.lastname@example.org, or send me a PM on Facebook.