You may have heard of mother-child attachment–the idea that babies who feel safe and secure with their mothers tend to thrive, and those who feel insecurely attached to their mothers may have trouble establishing healthy relationships.
Well, according to Dr. Sue Johnson, adults can have attachment disorders, too. Except, for adults, the object of the attachment is one’s romantic partner.
A few years ago, the idea that adults need secure attachment to another adult in order to have a healthy relationship was pretty scandalous. But, more and more therapists are seeing that the idea makes sense: when we feel “securely” attached to our partners, we tend to overcome conflict better. But, when we feel “insecurely” attached to our partners, conflict can be the demise of the relationship.
Imagine a couple in which each person feels valued and loved by the other. In other words, they have a “secure” attachment to one another. According to Johnson, this couple will be able to overcome conflict/trauma/obstacles much better because there’s no uncertainty that each person is a reliable source of support.
However, imagine a couple in which one person feels uncertain about the other person’s commitment to the relationship. When conflict arises, insecurities start to creep in, and the insecure partner fears they have to weather the conflict alone.
It’s still in its infancy, but “Emotionally Focused Therapy” is a way couples can become more securely attached to one another. From there, the couples can identify when they feel insecure about the relationship and discuss it–instead of panicking or becoming fearful.
So, the next time you and your partner are in a conflict, ask yourself: do you feel secure in the relationship? Do you feel loved? Do you feel like you have support?
Turns out, the answer to those questions could predict the health of your relationship.