A couple of weeks ago I posted on Emotionally Focused Therapy. You can find it here: https://indivisiblecouples.com/what-is-emotionally-focused-therapy-anyway/After I posted this someone posed the question to me, “What is a secure attachment?”. That is such a great question so I thought I would write a bit on that important topic.
Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy talks about the essential question we ask one another in marriage and that is “A.R.E. you there for me?”, especially in moments when we feel threatened, scared, lonely, sad, and so on. The acronym stands for Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged. We need each of these from our spouses and if one or more of these are missing then the attachment feels insecure, our connection feels insecure, making us feel insecure. These feelings of insecurity can lead to conflict and many other relationship difficulties. Emotionally Focused Therapy aims to help couples be Accessible to one another, Responsive to one another, and Engaged with one another.
When one’s spouse is accessible one can get his or her attention. If, for example a husband is accessible to his wife, she can call him or text him during the day with something important and he can be reached. If, for example a wife is accessible to her husband, she will be with him without always being on her phone, or distracted by other things. Husbands and wives need to be able to get to one another without it feeling like a major struggle, at least not most of the time.
A responsive spouse will not only be accessible but he or she will respond in a way that communicates care and concern, at least most of the time. Of course, we are all distracted and “off” in our responses sometimes. However when there is responsiveness between husband and wife they both know that when they have a need their spouse will most times lovingly acknowledge it and try to meet it, or compassionately work it through if the need can’t be met.
Engaged spouses will be able to get to each other, they will respond kindly to one another, and they will actively and meaningfully talk to each other, look at each other, be with each other; in short they will connect with each other. It takes a lot of work to be engaged with the people most important to us, but this active participation in each others lives, day in and day out, hour by hour is the life blood of relationships.
A secure attachment in a marriage means that husband and wife A.R.E. there for each other. It means spouses are Accessible, Responsive, and Engaged. When insecure attachment characterizes a marriage husband and wife are missing one or more of these, or one or more is in need of repair. An insecure attachment usually means that there is conflict in the marriage that is not reaching resolution, or that one or both parties feel alone and lonely in the marriage.
Every marriage goes through its seasons but there is usually a predominant relational style of security or insecurity. Insecurity can be repaired. Sometimes repair can happen if a couple makes the conscious decision together to each look in the mirror and honestly assess their own emotional and actual participation in the marriage, then make the necessary changes. Sometimes it takes some outside support and expertise for a couple to move from insecurity to security, to move towards reconnection, healing, and loving being married. I practice Emotionally Focused Therapy, a therapy that truly aims to heal what underlies the difficulties in the marriage. If you and your spouse cannot affirmatively answer the question, “A.R.E. you there for me?” call or email me today.
Until next time,