to each other in times of need,
and a secure base form which each can explore and develop his or her potential.
When any of us, young or old, has emotional needs,
it is a natural survival strategy
for us to want to turn to one special person,
or a few close others, for support and comfort.
Seeking and maintaining contact with a few irreplaceable others
is a primary motivating force in us all.
Infants who are allowed to be dependent on their caregivers in their early development are observed to grow up to function more confidently and independently in the world.
So too, the dependence on a partner that develops
in a secure couple relationship actually
fosters autonomy and self confidence,
leading to interdependence between partners.
From the safe haven and secure base of thee couple's relationship,
two individuals go out into the world feeling stronger, more confident
and better equipped to face the ups and downs of daily life;
this security spills over to benefit their children, co-workers and community.
Partners typically need or long for
acceptance, closeness, and understanding
and also to feel loved, appreciated, and important.
These needs are normal.
Having these needs met in a healthy and
mutually satisfying way enhances physical and mental health
and overall quality of life of both partners.
Attachment is about safety and survival.
When your attachment needs are not met in your primary relationship,
it is normal to feel some combination
of fear, uncertainty, or anxiousness.
When you turn to your partner with these feelings and are greeted with
understanding, compassion and reassurance,
or essentially emotional responsiveness,
you will likely be comforted and feel secure again.
Emotional presence is the "solution" to insecurity.
In Dr. Sue Johnson's book, "Hold Me Tight," she captures the essence of
emotional presence in the acronym A.R.E.
A. Accessibility - Can I access your attention, presence and support when I need it? If I reach for you will you be there? Will you be open and receptive to my feelings?
Can I depend on you to make me a priority?
R. Responsiveness - Can I count on you to respond to my cues and needs? Will you tune into me when I need you? Will you empathize with me, express sensitivity and compassion?
E. Engagement - Will you keep me close and cherish me. Will you confide in me? Will you let me close and share your vulnerabilities, doubts, worries? Will your express your affection to me in words and gestures? Will you accept my affection when I give it to you?
And in summary,
The question to your partner:
Are You There for Me?
Partners give each other
support and comfort in a number of ways.
Some examples may include:
- Listening when the other is worried.
- Being attentive when the other is sick.
- Helping practically when the other is tired.
- Inquiring about your partner's feelings.
- Staying engaged patiently when your partner is confused.
- Discussing and debriefing events of the day together.
- Expressing concern and/or providing physical comfort
Answer the question to yourself:
How does my partner give me support, comfort, and encouragement?
Is He/She there for me?
Taken from Kallos-Lilly & Fitzgerald - Emotionally Focused Workbook