How can understanding attachment theory help your relationship? Attachment theory can provide a deeper understanding of why relationships have problems.
I'll also share an easy way to find out you and your partner's attachment style.
Here's the link to a free attachment quiz made by yours truly!
Hey everyone, this is episode number 32. How can understand attachment theory help your relationship? Atttachment theory can provide a deeper understanding of why relationships have problems. It's generally the real struggle underneath those common content issues, such as money, mess, sex, kids in laws, etc. It can also highlight our self work that will help the relationship. In other words, what we need to do on our side of the seesaw, and it provides insight into some of your partner's vulnerabilities, and what you can do to help. Finally, I'll share an easy way to find out you and your partner's attachment style. My name is Jason Polk, and you're listening to the healthy relationship seekers for parents podcast. I've worked with couples for over nine years as a couples therapist and relationship coach, and I really appreciate your time and attention. And I hope this can be of great value for you. Thanks for listening. This is healthy relationship secrets for parents, the podcast had saved her relationship from parenthood. Our mission is to help parents have a healthy relationship and be great parents at the same time. My name is Jason Polk, and I've worked exclusively with couples therapist and coach for over nine years, I want to share my experience clinically, as well as personally, on a personal note, I've been divorced several years ago. And it's, I want to help you avoid such an experience. And now, just so you know, I'm happily married to my wife, Jessica. And we have two kids, a big portion of how we show up in our relationship is based on how we were raised. For example, if our parents weren't super emotional, and didn't make an effort to understand our emotions, and what we were feeling growing up, we learned that there's really no value and use for them. So we may stop being aware of our emotions, because what's the point? Anyway, what I just described was basically me growing up, my parents love them to death, but they didn't, quote, reach in to what I was feeling, unquote. We didn't talk about emotions. Basically, we watch TV, we play video games, we played sports. When I got to my teenage years as a result of this, I didn't feel much. In fact, in retrospect, I actually used alcohol and drugs in order to feel something. I also didn't know how to express my emotions. First, as I mentioned, I wasn't really aware of them. And I didn't know talking about them was a thing. I didn't know that sharing your emotions was a way to connect with people. And basically how people get to know one another. This even continued into my 20s, as I thought that those who saw a therapist to talk about emotions were weak, ironically, because later I became a therapist. Nevertheless, in my late teens, early 20s, I had friends that I party with, but basically, because I really wasn't connecting with people, outside of, you know, drinking and doing drugs. I was lonely. I couldn't really relate with people when I was sober. And so coming back to attachment theory. And so coming back to attachment theory, I was someone who attachment theory calls and avoidant Stan tack, and who wrote the book wired for love, calls this person in Ireland, XO, and basically, was an island through and through. And an island is those of us who are not super emotional, and have a reflex for space, or distance in our adult relationships. And let me share I mentioned in the intro of this podcast that I've been divorced, and this created problems in our relationship, my reflex for space, my reflex for distance, and my ex wife would perceive often what I would do, I wouldn't take care of this reflex while being relational. And so basically it was perceived as a withdraw, or a dismissal. And then as a result, you know, grew up not being aware of emotions. I thought she was too emotional to irrational and end up creating a big problem for us. And it makes sense. Why do we have that reflex for space, if we were raised this way? It's because we're used to it. We had a lot of alone time growing up Stantec and says, those of us that are islands, we've learned to adapt to the neglect. The problem with learning to adapt and neglect by valuing space and limited interaction is that it was adaptive, then, but maladaptive now. So here's the self work for someone who can be Island ish. That is take care of your reflex for space, while being relational. For example, if I were to say things to my ex wife, I guess it's been a long day, I need 20 minutes to unwind by myself. And then after that, let's spend time together. I want to hear about your day, instead of coming home, going straight to the basement and watching SportsCenter for hours. I wasn't very relationship worthy, I guess you can say in my previous marriage. Nevertheless, if we're not aware, that reflex for space, it has the potential to drive your partner crazy. That was my case, they may think, does my partner care about me? Am I important. And often partners of people who are Island ish, tend to be preoccupied about connection, because basically, it's lacking from your island partner. And so the self work if you find yourself leaning towards being an island, it's appropriate space. It's again, sharing, you know, being aware of your reflex for space, while being relational, you're taking care of that. And also, anytime you turn towards your partner with your undivided attention, that's a win for both of you. If you find yourself in a relationship with an island, is going to be difficult for you not to take the reflex for space personally understand that it's an older adaptation. While hopefully they're working on being more relational. You can also check in with your partner, often an island may have an adverse reaction to feeling kind of engulfed or overwhelm by partners, a need for connection and knowing that their bandwidth for interaction and physical intimacy may not be as high as yours can go a long way. And it can also be a nice thing to do for your island partner, is to even say something like, it seems you had enough. Let's talk about this later. Basically, you're acknowledging that they're been with for interaction may not be as wide as yours. Things like that can be a relief for your island partner. I'm not saying let them off the hook and never talk about anything. But sometimes islands need space to process things. Now, let's talk about something I mentioned earlier, being preoccupied with connection, or with the availability or lack thereof of your partner.
Let me say that one more time. Now let's talk about something I mentioned earlier, being preoccupied with connection, or with the availability or lack thereof from your partner. If you are finding yourself here, you may be in what attachment theory calls anxious ambivalent, Stantec and calls this person the wave, generally speaking, waves and had more emotional interaction with their parents growing up, and they also have the experience of the emotional connection being withdrawn or lacking. For example, maybe one or both of your parents valued the relationship with you, but at times, were very busy and unavailable. Or maybe one or both parents had mood swings that made your relationship with them confusing. Or perhaps they had issues at times with alcohol or substances. Basically, waves know about connection, and the lack there of. And the lack thereof, obviously, is a painful experience, especially if you know what connection feels like. As a result in adult relationships, someone who is waving their reflex is for is towards connection. The self work as someone who's a it was the self work of someone who is wave ish is to take care of that reflex. While being relational. I generally coach couples, or coach partners to share vulnerability with a request. For example, you would go something like, I've been feeling disconnected with you, can we go out for dinner? Now, I know you may be thinking, if you're wave ish, I always have to do all the work. And I get it, I understand. But now let's focus on helping your partner help you. And you can also request to your partner for them to take the initiative in the future. If you find yourself in a relationship with a wave, the solution or the work is very easy, the more you can turn towards them with your undivided attention, the better. Also, make use of technology doesn't have to be crazy. But even something like thinking of you, or how's your day going, can go a long way. In summary, I understand how you and your partner are wired in terms of attachment theory, and the subsequent reflexes. And where this comes from can provide more understanding and empathy in your relationship. And generally, attachment dynamics are what's underneath some of our common content issues. So it's important to take care of those reflexes, while being relational, and understand some of your partner's vulnerabilities and what you can do about it as a result. Now, you may be wondering, how do I find out what my attachment style is? And I've got you, I got a free quiz. The quiz is called What is your relationship style? Are you an island? Anchor or wave? And what does that mean for your relationship? So check it out. It's a free quiz. And, as always, thank you so much for listening. Again, thank you so much for listening. And last podcast episode, I mentioned that I'm offering free relationship coaching. If you're up for being recorded, and having that coaching session, beyond this podcast if you're interested, shoot me an email at connect at relationship fixed.com. Again, thank you so much for listening.
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Transcribed by https://otter.ai