About 8 years ago, I had the amazing fortune to watch and learn from Stan Tatkin, psychologist, researcher, and synthesizer of neurobiological information about relationships and connection. His writings and process with couples transformed my work with couples. Couples go from frustrated emotional outpourings and habitual story lines…..to dynamic in-office break-thrus providing deep, relieving connection.
I’ll be beefing up my psychology tab with several articles that I think everyone will find a nugget in. Relationships are complex, challenging, growing-machines. Face it! I know these articles will give you some fresh tips–and validated your intuition about feeling more secure and how to move toward that in your relationship.
Here’s a great articles from the psychobiological approach to couples therapy (PACT) by Eva Van Prooyen:
“Healthy, secure relationships are a source of vital energy. PACT therapists know people feel good when they understand how to be successful partners. We are energized by a secure connection to another person. Our need to be securely attached is so powerful that it can get us through the hardest of times and help us float through day-to-day routines with ease, skill, and grace.
Secure functioning is based on a high degree of respect for one another’s experience. Interactions and shared experiences are fair, just, and sensitive. If your partner feels even slightly unwanted, undervalued, disliked, unseen, or unimportant, he or she will—quite frankly—act weird and underperform in the relationship.
Insecurity and insecure attachment negatively affect brain performance. Development can be slowed down because the brain is using most of its resources to manage being in survival mode instead of being free to move toward evolution, growth, and complexity.
In general, couples can get tripped up in creating a secure and healthy relationship and end up not liking their partners, situations, or experiences because they don’t know what to do or how to manage them. This can leave them feeling badly about themselves as well as their partner.
In line with the main treatment goals of PACT, couples are encouraged (and ultimately expected) to both know themselves and know their partner. That is, to know who they are and how they move through the world, and also to understand who their partner is, and how he or she operates. To be clear, that is not how they wish their partner operates, but how their partner actually operates, navigates, and maneuvers through the world. This knowledge, which requires a healthy dose of curiosity and attention, creates a strong foundation of understanding. It pushes forth the secure-functioning principles that “your partner is your responsibility and in your care,” and “you are responsible for knowing how to manage your partner.” Your partner then holds a sacred and honored position no one else in the world gets to occupy. That said, we often joke that actual wedding vows should probably include, “I take you to be my perfect pain in the butt.”
PACT teaches couples how to manage their partners so they can move and shift them into better states of mind and moods; lower their stress level; and decrease their sense of threat, anxiety, and depression.
The idea of being responsible for knowing and caring for your partner in this way and putting the relationship first tends to be the hard sell for some couples. When you truly understand the benefits of adopting this idea, the stance of “but it’s always about them, it never gets to be about me” loses its power as an argument.
My answer is, “You do this because it serves you and is good for you. You get your needs met by shoring up the vulnerabilities in your partner so he or she can in return do the same for you. You both get the benefits of that investment.”
Love and genuine connection create libidinal energy—life force energy that can be renewed in an instant through a simple act of friendliness, a glance, a look, a moment, and a knowing that “my person likes me.” Part of creating a secure relationship is making sure you are helping your partner perform at an optimal level. To do that, messages that communicate “I’m good at you,” “I’m good at being with you,” and “You are in my care” must be reflected every day.
If you want to put this into practice, one way I encourage that is to pay attention to everything your partner hears you say about him or her. What messages are you conveying? Another thing you can do is to introduce your partner to other people, when you are together in public, in a way that is elevating.”