I have found myself often explaining to couples that marriage difficulties are not necessarily the fault of the marriage. A lot of what we experience in our relationships is actually a result of our early years and how emotions and needs were imprinted into us by those we attached to.
This thinking is based on a theory called attachment. Milan and Kay Yerkovich, therapists, and authors of How We Love have done a lot of work around attachment theory and marriage. I find their work to be very helpful with many of my clients, particularly those experiencing relationship roadblocks.
Over the next couple of months, I will unroll a short series on attachment and some common love styles that play into all of our marriage relationships.
Perhaps the most common type of love style is the pleaser. Typically, the pleaser is viewed as amiable, accommodating, and the family peacemaker. However, like in all of us, there is a shadow side. The pleaser usually is anxious and fearful of being rejected. He/she will construct a type of superficial peace by pleasing others. Unfortunately, peace is usually a false peace. The pleaser suffers from anxiety resulting from not addressing personal feelings and the mate’s concerns are often minimized. The pleaser can bruise a relationship by valuing a sense of calm over an authentic relationship.
Here is a portion Yerkovich’s love style assessment:
- I am usually the giver in relationships.
- I am good at keeping the peace.
- Sometimes I am dishonest in order to avoid conflict.
- I am afraid of making my spouse upset or angry.
- When there is conflict, I’ll give in just to get it over with.
- It really upsets me when I feel someone is mad at me.
- Sometimes I get mad, but I usually don’t show it.
If you relate to three or more of the statements above, you might want to consider evaluating your personal love style and the impact it is having on your marriage or other important relationships.
Written By: Sheri Schulze, LAPC