Being in a deep relationship with another person that results in love, support and comfort is something that is embedded in us as humans. From the moment we are born and placed in our parents’ arms we begin to form an attachment that will determine whether or not we become secure or insecure in relationships. The way we view others and our self is molded and formed by how available and how well our parents or primary caregivers responded to our physical and emotional needs. Since we are such relational beings our early aged relationships have a direct impact on how we attach ourselves to others in adulthood. Romantic relationships, like marriage, can become a trigger for an attachment style we may not have been previously aware of. Depending on how a person grew up will determine if they fall into a secure or insecure attachment style. These different styles help explain patterns of challenging behaviors in a relationship.
1. Anxious Attachment: This style develops when a person grows up with a caregiver that is inconsistent or unpredictable in how they respond and how available they are, causing a sense of confusion in the child about what to expect. This person becomes someone who values their relationships so much that they can become clingy, while being anxious and worried that the person they love is not invested. Since this person tends to struggle with the fear of abandonment, safety and security become something they long for most. They attempt to remedy their anxiety by offering a great amount of attention, care and responsiveness. They are desperate for love so they tend to exhibit a high need for approval.
2. Avoidant Attachment: When a child grows up with a neglectful parent and a belief that no one is available to meet their needs they take on independent qualities. This person would often times describe themselves as being strong, independent and self-sufficient. Even though they have a high self-esteem they can exhibit a lack of trust towards others and may struggle with intimate and emotional connections in relationships. They tend to solely rely upon themselves and suppress any worries they may have.
3. Disorganized Attachment: This style is developed when a child grows up in an abusive, traumatic, and chaotic home. This child has no secure foundation and learns to fear their caregiver, which results in instability and questionable behavior. This person has a constant battle of desire and fear fighting within them because they long for intimacy and closeness while struggling to trust and depend on others. Since the fear of getting hurt is so prevalent in this person they are quick to put walls up and avoid any strong emotional attachment.
4. Secure: While the other attachment styles are characterized by the difficulties of having a healthy relationship, being secure implies that a person is comfortable with building and interacting in a relationship in a healthy way. This person feels comfortable depending on others while others depend on them. There is balance, honesty, and an emotional closeness. A secure person is quick to thrive in their relationships.
When someone in a marriage suffers from one of the attachment styles it can bring about some major hardships within the relationship. Marriage is most successful when there is balance and expectations are met, this includes being together as well as being away from one another. However if an attachment issue rears its ugly head within a marriage, whether it’s an issue relating to feeling suffocated from a spouse, like you aren’t needed, or your spouse won’t let you in emotionally, it can be detrimental. Therefore knowing your struggles and attachment style you may lean towards, can benefit your marriage as long as you are willing to take steps to reverse your natural way of thinking by recognizing the stronghold, learning to eliminate the insecure bonds, and being willing to be vulnerable with your spouse.
Remember, we can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Phil. 4:13).