attachment Posts

Creating Roots to Keep Your Commitment Strong

Our families today are often scattered around the country and are not easily accessed. Our friends from childhood and the memories of our childhood are often distant too. It is important to our health as a couple that we find a way to touch our roots and to make new roots when we need to. When we are not connected and try to be everything to each other, it does not work well. Marriages need a social circle with rituals that we can count on. We need to keep in touch with our families by phone or skype. Make trips both ways to connect with each other. Taking this seriously affects our mental health in every way. It affects our chemistry. Research shows that touching someone you love reduces pain. With married couples, the stronger the marriage, the more powerful the positive effects on all variables. Five hugs a day for four weeks increases our happiness – do you remember that old song about 4 hugs a day? – turns out it was right. Give this a try in your relationship – be sure you are present when you are hugging. Research shows that when you put people in a stressful situation and then let them visit loved ones or talk to them on the phone or in person, they felt supported and their bodies respond at a cellular level as they reported that they felt better. And if you think that texting works, apparently not. In this research, they also had people texting their loved ones. If they texted, their bodies responded biologically as if they had no support at all. As I have blogged about before, emotionally connecting has huge health benefits all around.

Now remember that I am talking about the best case scenario. What if you come from a very dysfunctional background and after much trying you are mostly disconnected from your family? In that case, you must make as many connections with others as is possible. According to research, it seems as if you need to each have a least four good friends to have the kind of health benefits that are important. It probably holds true for the health of your marital connection as well. Having good friends that you are not biologically connected to takes time. Building the kind of memories and trust where you have a certainty that the other will be there for you – takes time. Put it in your calendar. You need to see it there and bring it about. Continue to have balance, however. Your time with your partner needs to be on the calendar as a number one priority too. Make this positive change. Go forth and be wonderful!

Your Best in Relationship

Would your partner say that you show up in the relationship feeling engaged, energetic and enthusiastic? We could say that your emotions are experienced by your partner in at least 2 ways. One is the quality of the emotions you bring. Are they positive or negative? When you come together as a couple are you communicating your affection, your love and your gladness at being together again? Or do you come together with the day’s cares and grumpiness from work events? If you were honest, would you say that you are not communicating your attachment and connection for your partner in a way that increases the security of the relationship together in the quality of your emotional engagement?

 The other quality of emotional experience that your partner registers is the intensity of the emotions you bring to the relationship. This too can range from barely there to a high intensity. You know the old cartoon where there is a newspaper propped up at a table and the female partner is talking to the back of the newspaper not even realizing there is no one there. The relationship pattern is so lacking in intensity of emotion that the person is not there period and the partner is not noticing the difference.  The updated version to that is that our partners are glued to their phone or computer and ‘not there’ as well. This communication of low intensity does not communicate your love and affection effectively, in fact not at all. I find in my practice that couples argue about this a great deal. It is most often both of the partners that experience this lack of intensity and will bring it up as an issue for change. Remember that our attachment experience needs the reassurance of our partner’s affection and connection daily. It needs to be “you can count on me to be there for you”. It has to be a commitment on our part especially when we are coming and going from each other. You may understand that magic 20 minutes that you and your partner need together to communicate but you may not have thought about how you were showing up to these times in terms of emotional quality and intensity. Become aware today and make this small change that makes a big difference. Communicate your love and attachment to your partner well. Go forth and be wonderful!

Spring – a Time of Recommitment

Spring represents new life and rebirth. If your commitment together was a long time ago, this spring might be an excellent time to consider a new recommitment between your partner and yourself. Imagine the meaning of being chosen by your partner once again! Use a date night in the next 2 weeks to do this. Talk to your partner about how you might make this recommitment ritual meaningful for both of you. Some people find that rewriting their vows makes a big difference in their thinking and being in the relationship. Sometimes it is good to have a symbol that helps to renew your commitment to your relationship.

One idea is to buy a small tree and plant it in your garden or a pot on your balcony. Take care of the plant together, noticing the changes and growth that occurs as you water and fertilize it and it gets exposed to the sunlight. Write a list of things that help your relationship to grow. What is represented by the elements of water, of fertilizer, of sunlight in your relationship?

Some couples like to keep this ritual private and others do not. Consider how it might affect your children if they knew that you were recommitting yourself to each other. Consider how you would feel if you let other couples who are your closest friends know of your recommitment. Or, how would you feel if they told you they were recommitting to each other. We live in community and are affected by one another. Your increase in attachment makes a positive difference to your community whether you choose to share or not to share your recommitment. Go forth and be wonderful in this!

Healthy Love and Attachment are about ‘With’ and ‘In’

Sometimes when a couple thinks of making change, there is a very real resistance, a fear of what they may need to do ‘for’ their partner differently. Will they be able to do it, have they tried before and failed or will they even want to do it? Sometimes, the conversation in therapy will be around what I might have to do ‘for’ you or conversely what you don’t do ‘for’ me now. More importantly, love is about other prepositions. It is about the sense of ‘with’, it is about an invitation ‘in’. The cry is about living ‘with’ me. It is about that hole in your heart that represents the sense of separateness, the sense of aloneness in the relationship. The heart says, Please be ‘with’ me in this experience of life. Be ‘with’ me in our life vision. It about the longing for an invitation ‘in’ to your life as a partnership. Living moments of ‘in’ communion together, moments of ‘in’ experiences together, moments of ‘in’ memory together. Out of so much ‘in’ and ‘with’, there is a natural ‘for’ that can come about. But loving relationships cannot always be focussing on ‘for’. Healthy love and attachment are about ‘with’ and ‘in’. Go forth and be wonderful in this!