The Key Strengths of Secure Relationships
When some couples seek counseling, they are frustrated because their arguing has increased; and, because they fall into the arguing cycle easily, issues don’t get resolved.
However, often couples seek help because they’ve lost a sense of connection with each other.
A major study showed that when marriages fail, the root cause is not increasing conflict. Rather, lack of emotional responsiveness to partners’ needs and decreasing affection and closeness are the true culprits.
As the song says, “We’ve lost that lovin’ feeling.” Marriages at risk of divorce experience a decrease in responding to each other’s needs. Women in disconnected relationships often feel abandoned and lonely. Men fear they’re a failure and inadequate and feel rejected by their partner.
Dr. Sue Johnson in her book, “Hold Me Tight: Seven Conversations for a Lifetime of Love,” (which I recommend that all the couples I work with read during the course of counseling) points to three characteristics of secure relationships:
1. Accessibility. Each partner is available and can be reached to help meet each other’s needs. Our partner is a priority, we easily give and receive attention, we connect emotionally, we share intimate thoughts and feelings and we know we are “first” on our partner’s life.
2. Responsiveness. Both partners feel they can go to their partner for comfort and each will be receptive and open. Our partner knows our “cues” that we need them, and they provide support and reassurance we have doubts and are anxious. Our partner is our “safe haven” of understanding and caring.
3. Engagement. Both partners are able to confide in each other. There is deep concern for their partner’s feelings and needs, they can turn to their partner for comfort and enjoy the special closeness they share. Each is willing to be open and vulnerable, even when to do so seems scary.
In today’s fast-paced world (and especially for couples with children), close connections are often challenged. I often remind couples: “The foundation of your family is the two of you.” Keeping your relationship strong enables you to work through tough times, as well as setting a model of a healthy relationship for your children.
To learn more, visit the pages on my web site, www.AwareCounseling.com.