by Mark and Jan Yokers
Your marriage problems didn’t start in your marriage. Our patterns of relating and bonding (or not bonding) were developed very early in our family of origin. Those patterns are generally not seen or understood. They become part of what we call our “love style”; we discussed these in the last four articles.
When tension or stress develops in our primary relationship, we will respond automatically according to our learned love style. These styles result from our efforts as a child to try to get our needs met and protect ourselves from relational pain. We settled into what worked best for us at the time and would eventually feel that to be normal. So we all found some relief, either by avoiding, pleasing, vacillating, controlling, or submission (victim). We may have tried all of these patterns of relating when very young and settled into one or more of the five love styles. These love styles are not personality traits but “love style injuries.” And they are not your fault.
So as adults, what does this imply for us in our primary relationship? Much research has revealed that the issues and stressors in our lives, especially in our primary relationships, are more from our perceptions and responses due to our injured love style than from the other person or situation. This knowledge can actually be quite comforting. We can grow into a healthier person by learning what’s going on inside of us and finding healing for our injuries. (Trying to change the other person or the situation doesn’t work anyway.) So there’s great hope for all of us if we are willing to learn and grow, and our primary relationship is a gift in bringing out our “injured love style.”
Milan and Kay Yerkovich, authors of “How We Love,” put it this way in a recent broadcast: “This is one of the laws of attachment, just as there’s a law of gravity. It happens every single time—as opposed to hypothesis or theory. The law of attachment is when you put any two people in a primary attachment, and whatever they learned back there in their family of origin will come to the top. It will bloom. It is the exposure.”
This is what happens in marriage. It’s not the wedding cake after all, as some have mused. When we marry, we have expectations of how our needs will be met, and when that doesn’t happen (and it never will), we respond to pain and loss using learned methods. So your marriage problems didn’t start in your marriage.
There is great hope! Check out the website: howwelove.com. And stay tuned. Opportunities for help and healing will be coming!