Today’s Marriage Monday is brought to you by Milan and Kay Yerkovich. The Yerkovich’s book How We Love has been a complete game-changer in our marriage over the past year. It’s also changed how we parent and tune into our kids’ emotional needs.
Milan and Kay will be workshop speakers at the 2013 Hearts at Home conferences. I can promise you that I will be sitting in the classroom taking notes right along with everyone else! Their wisdom is so good! (If you’re going to register for the conference, do so by Wednesday to get the Best Value Registration price!)
Now let’s hear from Milan and Kay!
“Can you recall a memory of comfort from the first eighteen years of your life?” A time where a parent noticed you were emotionally upset and drew out your feelings and helped you find relief?
Over 70% of the people we ask cannot summon up even one recollection of a parent noticing, touching, listening and consoling them as kids when they were emotionally upset. Without many experiences and memories of relational relief and soothing, we grow up and do not expect our spouse to offer help when we are stressed and upset. We don’t realize how much our children need this help. Learning to find relief in relationships means we can let go of addictions and the many destructive (and non-relational) ways we use to seek comfort and relief. While God is certainly our Comforter, the Bible also tells us to comfort one another.
If we grew up in a home where we were not encouraged to express our feelings and seek comfort, predictable problems arise when we try to relate as adults. Five common love styles develop when emotional connection and comfort is insufficient and each of these injurious loves styles block connection, communication and harmony in adult relationships.
As kids, avoiders learned to restrict their feelings and needs as parents were unresponsive to painful emotions. Self-sufficient since childhood, avoiders need little in relationships and show love by doing tasks. They withdraw when others are emotional or needy being uncomfortable with emotions in themselves or others. An avoider may try to give to others but neediness and emotions make them very uncomfortable. As adults, avoiders have a narrow range of emotion, rarely ask for help or show vulnerability. Having never received emotional connection they don’t know how to give it.
The pleaser was often the good child growing up and learned early to take care of others. As adults they work hard to keep everyone happy to maintain a calm environment. When others are happy, they can relax so they minimize problems and deny painful realities. They look for opportunities to give, expecting little in return. Their wellbeing is dependent on the mood and actions of others. They fear anger and rejection, so honesty is difficult and the emotion of anger is underdeveloped in the pleaser.
The vacillator desires consistent, intense, connection they can feel to make up for the pain of the sporadic attention they received as kids. They idealize new relationships and then devalue others when their high expectations and hopes are not met. Vacillators are moody due to these swings between all good and all bad. When disappointed, they are more likely to display anger than sadness so others feel as if they have to walk on egg shells around these people. Vacillators often don’t recognize their high levels of anxiety and feel confused because they are uneasy when connected to others (the person might leave) and anxious when apart (abandoned and not seen).
Controller or Victim:
Both the controller and the victim come from very chaotic unpredictable homes or experienced highly rigid authoritarian parents. Childhood for these folks was frightening and traumatic. The feisty kids become controllers making a vow to never feel these painful childhood emotions again. The controller works to maintain power since being controlled in childhood brought such misery and humiliation. Anger is often the only emotion and they are not aware that anger defends against any vulnerable feelings.
In chaotic families the more complaint kids learn to tolerate the intolerable until the intolerable becomes normal. The victim survives by trying to stay under the radar and as an adult the victim is fearful, submissive and feels powerless.
Stop and think about it? Do any of these styles resemble Christ? Our journey of growth toward being more Christ-like is clearer when we understand just how we are broken.
What happens when these styles collide in marriage? Surprisingly, extremely predictable patters occur when an avoider marries a pleaser or a vacillator marries an avoider? In our book, How We Love, we describe these common core patterns and include a workbook so the reader can change their relationship patterns and experience more harmonious, secure relationships.
With a diagnosis, a cure is possible. You can discover concrete steps to growth so you can enjoy a deeper more satisfying relationship with your spouse and kids.
From Jill: Visit www.howwelove.com to take a free test and determine your love style. You can also sign up for the Yerkovich’s blog if you’d like more information about love styles!