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Does it seem that your relationship problems often boil down to the same core issues?
Have you found that again and again that your spouse is unable to connect emotionally?
Or do you find yourself feeling overwhelmed by your partner’s needs and criticisms?
While these struggles might be singular in nature, they might also speak to something that was developed within your character as early as childhood: attachment style. According to Attachment Theory, the way we connect with others and depend upon them will present itself as a pattern well into adulthood. This will be demonstrated by those we are drawn to as well as our own ability to foster relationships with them.
The three primary forms of attachment are: avoidant, anxious, and secure.
If you have an avoidant attachment style, you may desire closeness with your partner while simultaneously finding him/her clingy. Relying on others, even your spouse, is intimidating. You might prefer to disconnect and withdraw alone to cope with difficulties. Ultimately, avoidant partners tend to push people away, even if not intentionally.
- Avoidant partners need to remember that sharing life and emotions with others can enrich your personal happiness and strengthen relationships.
If you have an anxious attachment style, you may find yourself desperate for physical and emotional intimacy. The thought of being rejected or pushed away is overwhelming. You might have difficulty completely trusting your partner, and require repeated assurances of love from him/her. Ultimately, anxious partners can seem overbearing or needy, but they are driven by fears of abandonment.
- Anxious partners need to remember that they are worthy of love and relationship.
If you have a secure attachment style, you probably are fairly confident and comfortable with intimacy. You can express love while making space for independence.
- Ultimately, secure partners tend to be honest and reliable, with the ability to communicate needs effectively. Studies have found that secure partners are more likely to attain happiness and satisfaction in relationships.
For those that would identify with avoidant or anxious attachment styles, it is possible to adapt and become more secure with practice over time.
Here are a few strategies to do just that:
1. Evaluate your needs in relationships and practice communicating them with patience and transparency.
2. Examine what triggers cause your avoidant or anxious attachment behaviors to arise. Retrain your mind to associate love with serenity rather than turmoil.
3. Show up consistently. Check in on your partner and connect with him/her showing intentionality on a regular basis.
4. Step up as a support system. Let your partner know you are proud of who they are, and encourage him/her to pursue their interests and goals.
5. As you begin to practice healthier forms of interdependence, your partner may very well be compelled to grow in step with you. However, if it seems that you and your spouse are still struggling to find a common ground in forming secure bonds, it may be wise to consider seeking professional guidance. A professional, especially one specializing in relationships or attachment styles could provide additional insight and advice that allows for the breakthrough you both need.
Recognizing your attachment style and purposefully adapting to become a more secure partner will empower you to cultivate a healthier relationship. Utilizing the strategies above and even enlisting the help of a qualified professional may bring long-lasting satisfaction and fulfillment throughout your life.