Think back to when you were a child. Do you remember someone who was always there for you? Someone who was responsive to your needs and well-being? If you do, you could quite possibly have a secure attachment to that person. It turns out, this is a very important thing as we age and create new relationships with our significant other. Securely attached relationships “tend to be happier, more stable, and more satisfying.”1
On the other hand, someone who never had that responsive caretaker or felt that their needs were not met could likely have developed an insecure attachment. This could cause trouble for your relationship. “Anxious attachment can appear as neediness and nagging in adult relationships. Avoidant attachment behavior can appear as withdrawn from emotional connection with a fear of being rejected.”2 Luckily there are ways to spot the issues and professionals that are able to help you or a loved one overcome their insecure attachment.
Here are 4 ways a healthy attachment keeps your relationship on the right track:
- There is plenty of trust to go around.
If you grew up in a place where you had someone who was responsive and available. You likely have created a healthy attachment to that person. This helps us as we get older to establish these same types of trusting relationships with our significant other. Trust is an essential part of a healthy relationship.
- You are here to stay.
You were able to work through difficult times and situations with your figure of attachment from a young age. There was no fear of abandonment. As an adult you take that quality and express it yourself. You are there for your significant other and they are there for you, through the good times and the rough times.
- You are always improving.
In situations where there is an insecure attachment from a young age, professionals have found these people have a hard time taking feedback from anyone. If you find yourself grateful or eager to improve to help your relationship you likely have had a secure attachment from a young age.
- You may be upset but you are not yelling.
Insecure attachment in relationships often leads to short tempers and shouting contests. With secure attachments you are able to navigate your emotions and express yourself in a way that allows you to discuss disagreements, disputes or other uncomfortable topics that come up. Even if you are mad, you can keep your cool and make it out better on the other side.
So, what if things are not so good?
Even if you had a difficult relationship in your early years with your guardian, attachment styles can be worked through and improved. A person who experiences avoidant or anxious attachment styles can create a secure attachment with their spouse or partner. This can be done by developing an understanding of attachment styles, considering each person’s role in the relationship by removing blame, and creating new ways to interact with each other.2
Working through these steps to build a secure attachment with a spouse can be a process of change for both partners. It could be beneficial to work with a professional to have additional guidance throughout the process.
- Johnson, S. M. (2020). The practice of emotionally focused couple therapy: creating connection. New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group.
2. Weeks, G. R., & Fife, S. T. (2014). Couples in Treatment: Techniques and Approaches for Effective Practice. Taylor and Francis.
This article was provided by Shelise Williams; therapist at the Center for Couples and Families.
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