October 29, 2011
This video, “A Bugs Life” can tell us a lot about love. “BUGS! What do BUGS have to do with love!?” Watch this video and see if you can figure out how.
You might be thinking, “I’m still not sure how watching bugs can can help me to understand my marriage.” After reading Part I of this series you might be asking, “I did the exercises you suggested in Part 1, but WHAT ABOUT ME?! When am I going to get MY needs met?” “Are you suggesting that I should stop expecting that my wife to show me love?” “I feel like I’m the only one giving in this marriage. That’s not the way it was when I married him.”
“I feel like my husband doesn’t even care about me!”
I know, I know. This self-giving stuff is tough. Most of the time it sounds just too idealistic, like he’s expecting us to be a saint or something (umm . . . yes). God created each of us with a desire to love and to be love; a longing for emotional bonding with others and, in a special way, with our spouse. The problem is that our humanity gets in the way. And, it more than likely got in the way for our parents, and their parents, and their parents, all the way back to the original parents of all of us.
Okay, so back to bugs and how they can help us to understand why we act the way we do in our marriage. Or, why our husband, or wife, acts the way he does in our marriage. Watching bugs can can help us to understandadapts to stress).
Here’s a little bug science (better known as ethology) that can help us learn more about marriage:
- Bug’s behavior shows us how our actions in love are actually related to how we adapt to stress
- Bugs’ behavior can help us to understand that we have triggers for automatic behaviors in response to our spouse
- How we form and maintain loving relationships
Okay – But What Does This Have to Do With My Marriage?
Bowlby, an ethologist by profession, took this information and applied them to people. He theorized that animals, and man, had an automatic way we keep ourselves safe when we think we are going to be hurt. This can be seen easily when we think of a 2 year old running back to mom to feel safe.
Bowlby said that for people this automatic pattern of attachment forms within the first year of life! This theory is now well-known in the psychology world as Attachment Theory.
Because people are people and we have our own will and we don’t always follow God’s beautiful innate designs, sometimes attachment patterns form that actually keep us from having healthy, fulfilling marriages. These patterns can keep us from receiving or giving love and care in our marriage. Understanding a little about attachment patterns can help us to understand why we act the way we do in relationships and how we can grow to have more intimacy in our marriage.
What are these patterns of attachment? Through a multitude of research over the past 30 years, four attachment patterns have been identified. They’ve been validated over and over and are now highly connected with many different areas of our life: work, marriage, parenting, etc.
Attachment patterns develop based on how our needs were met in infancy and the early years of life. Based on our early relationships with our parents adults have expectations about what can be expected from our spouse and what we’re worthy of receiving from our spouse. This tends to guide how a person behaves in all relationships, especially marriage. Thankfully these attachment patterns do not have to be permanent and can change. Here are three major attachment patterns. See which one seems most like you when you think about how your mother/father showed you care and also which one seems most like you in your marriage.
The parent was sensitive and responsive to the infant’s needs (most of the time). The young child developed expectations that the other person in the relationship will care about their needs and be relatively responsive. He will feel worthy of receiving care from others. He is comfortable with intimacy.
The parent was sensitive and responsive some of the time to the infant’s needs, but was often insenstive and unresponsive, depending on the parent’s needs. Expectations will develop that the other person in the relationship will be inconsistent about caring and responding to their needs. The person with a Preoccupied attachment pattern will feel unworthy of receiving care from others. This person will be anxious about getting her needs met in relationships. Although she can be somewhat comfortable with a spouse who has a secure pattern of attachment, she is often described as “needy,” by her husband or boyfriend. She is usually willing, despite the challenge, to look at her behavior and consider change.
The parent was consistently insensitive and unresponsive to the infant/child’s needs, usually focusing on their own needs at the expense of the child’s. Expectations will develop that the other person in the relationship will be insensitive and unresponsive to their needs. He will feel unworthy of receiving care from others. He will feel that he shouldn’t expect his wife to help him or show him care and that this is how everyone feels. He is convinced that this is absolutely fine and healthy;he tends to equate intimacy with loss of independence and often minimize closeness in relationships. He is usually experienced by his wife or girlfriend as emotionally distant. He is usually uncomfortable in relationships with secure partners, often viewing them as expecting too much closeness. Because Dismissive individuals view themselves as healthy they are resistant to change.
You’re probably already thinking about your own attachment experiences and patterns. You might be thinking about your spouse’s as well. Remember, these attachment patterns are all within the normal range. About 50 % of folks have a Secure pattern, about 20% have the Preoccupied pattern and about 25% have the Dismissive pattern. These statistics are consistent across ages, gender, and cultures.
Here are some ideas for putting this information to good use:
- Journal about your early attachment experiences with your parents. You probably had different attachment experiences with each of them. Did your parents seem preoccupied with their own needs and problems, or were they able to put those aside to be present with you? As you grew, could you count on them to be there for you when you had a problem? How do you remember feeling in your relationship with your parents? Can you have compassion for yourself in relationship now that you are exploring these experiences?
- Journal about how you experience intimacy with spouse. What feelings might be related to your own attachment pattern and the expectations you hold of him and yourself in your relationship?
- Perhaps you know about your spouse’s early attachment experiences, perhaps not. In your journal, speculate about your spouse’s attachment pattern. How might these things be affecting his expectations of you and himself in your relationship? How might these things be interfering in the fulfillment you experience in your marriage? (Unless your spouse has chosen to explore these ideas, I would not recommend you begin to tell him about his attachment pattern!).
- Look for small ways that you can be sensitive and responsive to your spouse’s needs. And remember, what your spouse needs in the way of intimacy is very likely different than what you need. There is no right or wrong, good or bad. Perhaps his way of showing his love is by doing things but not talking. Perhaps she needs physical touch, such as gently touching her hand or cheek, holding her hand, or lovingly placing your hand on her back. Perhaps she needs to be left alone when she has been with the kids all day.
Often we think there is one right way to show intimacy and love. This is a fallacy. Understanding, empathy and acceptance of each other as we are is one way that will bring us the fulfillment we desire in our marriage.
If you want to read more I recommend the book Attachments: Why You Love, Feel and Act the Way You Do, by Clinton and Sibcy.
Dr. Patti M. Zordich is a licensed psychologist and Director/Founder of Triangle Psychological Services in Cary, NC. You can reach her at 919.380.1000 or at email@example.com. Or, follow her on Twitter, @drpattiz, or Facebook.com/TrianglePsychologicalServices.
September 5, 2011
John Paul II wrote about spiritual motherhood which means nurturing others’ spiritual, emotional , moral, and cultural life. As a psychologist specializing in attachment, I see spiritual motherhood as the essence of healthy attachment caregiving.
I was reading about spiritual motherhood about the same time gangs of teenagers were terrorizing many areas throughout London. I thought about so many young men and women whose lives are filled with violence, selfishness, and anger. As a therapist, I am aware that selfishness and anger are often covers for self-hatred and fear and even sadness and grief. These covers are effective for an individual because they feel strong and safe, rather than the vulnerability and fear that lies just beneath the surface.
It is not uncommon that these vulnerable youth are raised solely by their mothers and grandmothers; that their fathers are missing in action. No doubt their fathers are grown up versions of themselves. These mothers and grandmothers, trying to raise their children by themselves, feed their children, protect their children are worn out because they too were raised by their mothers with checked out fathers. Often they put themselves last in order to serve their children.
In order to provide healthy attachment experiences, or spiritual motherhood, one must have received it from their parent or by another attachment figure along the way.
What I thought about as these two realities mingled in my mind, spiritual motherhood and the lost rioting teens, was spiritual fatherhood. All children need their fathers. They need the strength, courage, guidance and singlemindedness that is often seen in men who provide healthy attachment experiences to their children and loved ones.
Just as with spiritual motherhood, a man does not need to be a biological father to provide spiritual fathering to others. Yes, what these rioting teens need, among other things, are strong fathers, spiritual fathers, who support their child to rise up and use the gifts with which they were created. Spiritual fatherhood provides healthy attachment experiences that can lead others to their ultimate spiritual father, God. Without spiritual fatherhood the soul flounders and becomes lost.
It is time for men to acknowledge their spiritual fatherhood and consider how to support, encourage, and guide lost fathers, lost boys, and lost girls. John Paul II described mothers as “everyday heroes.” Let all men discover their spiritual fatherhood and become “everyday heroes.”
Patti M. Zordich, Ph.D., Triangle Psychological Services, Raleigh, NC, firstname.lastname@example.org, 919.380.1000
February 5, 2011
Viewing pornography has skyrocketed with the internet. No longer does one have to walk up to a counter and purchase an adult magazine or video with a real, live human being, all the while worrying about being seen. The internet has made it easy.
In 2003, a conference of Matrimonial Lawyers cited pornography addiction as one of the primary causes in 2 out of 3 divorces.
The first step in healing is willingness. The willingness to look at oneself honestly makes it possible to begin the journey to freedom.
Take five minutes to answer the following questions.
- Do you think about sex more often than you would like?
- Do sexual thoughts interfere with your ability to concentrate at work or at school?
- Have you ever promised yourself that you would never again view pornography?
- Would you rather masturbate than be sexual with your partner?
- Has an important relationship in your life ended because you wouldn’t stop viewing pornography?
If you answered yes to at least two of the questions, it is likely that you would benefit from individual or group therapy to stop your pornography viewing. So now what?
The next step requires the courage to take action. It is time to come out of the shadows of pornography addiction. You are not alone. There is help.
Escape the bondage of your pornography habit with at least one of these three effective solutions:
- Support Groups such as Sex Addicts Anonymous
- Spiritual direction with a priest or minister
- Individual or Group Psychotherapy in-office or tele-counseling. We are one of the few Sexual Addiction programs in the Piedmont of North Carolina that address this devastating problem from a Christian-based perspective. This perspective is a compassionate one and one in which sexual drive and desire is valued as a vital part of who we are and who God created us to be.
Click here for more information about our Treasure in Earthen Vessels Freedom from Sexual Addiction program.
Or, Contact us for more information about our Treasure in Earthen Vessels services.
919.380.100 or click here to email us.
Taking the first step in recovery is never easy. But, the rewards will outweigh the cost. Take back your life, your family, your marriage. Experience the love and forgiveness the journey of sexual addiction recovery brings.