Love - A revolutionary new view
While different scholars and practitioners have wrestled with definitions and understanding of love for centuries, today, we can no longer afford to afford to consider love a mysterious force beyond our ken. For better or for worse, in the twenty first century, a love relationship has become the central emotional relationship in most people's lives. One reason is that we are increasingly living in social isolation. Most of us no longer live with our kins and family and work longer hours and have fewer and fewer close relationships.Inevitably, we now ask our lovers for the emotional connection and sense of belonging that my grandmother got from her village. Another reason is the celebration of romantic love portrayed by popular culture - movies, books etc. Thusly, it becomes imperative that we comprehend what love is, how to make it and how to make it last. Love is as basic to life, health and happiness as the drives for food, shelter and sex.
From the attachment theory, today it is widely accepted that children have an absolute requirement for safe, ongoing physical and emotional closeness. John Bowlby had also maintained that adults have the same need for attachment.
Bowlby talked about effective dependency and how being able, from the the cradle to the grave to turn to others for emotional support is a sign and source of strength. Research documenting adult attachment began just before Bowlby's death. It led to the conclusion - a sense of secure connection between romantic partners is key in positive loving relationships. Securely bonded adults were more curious and more open to new information.
Distress in a relationship adversely affects our immune and hormonal systems, and even our ability to heal.
Where did our Love go? Losing Connection
Even though couples try hard to mark sense of their distresses, their formulations almost always miss the mark. The explanations are just the tip of the iceberg. Many therapists would say that these couples are caught up in a destructive power struggle, and that they need to learn how to negotiate and improve their communication skills, but they too have not gone deep enough. The basic problem is that these couples have disconnected emotionally; they do not feel emotionally safe with each other. Their fights are really protests over emotional discommunication
Attachment theory tells us that our loved one is our shelter in life. Losing connection with our loved one jeopardizes our sense of security. We don't think; we feel, we act.
Arguments, for those couples with secure bonds, are momentary blips. The fear is quickly tamped down when one realizes that there is no real threat. For others, the fear is overwhelming. They either become demanding and clingy, or they withdraw and detach to protect themselves. These strategies work in the beginning, but they set up spirals of insecurity which only push them further apart.
Researchers have identified several such damaging patterns. Three basic ones are
the Protest Polka ( most dominant )
Find the bad guy
Freeze and Flee
In the Protest Polka, one partner becomes critical and aggressive, the other defensive and distant. Psychologist John Gottman finds that couples stuck in this pattern in the first few marriage have an 80% chance of divorcing in the first five years. With time, the what of any fight does not matter at all. The relationship becomes marked with resentment, caution and distance. The idea that these demand distance spirals are all about attachment panic is still revolutionary to many psychologists. Until we address the fundamental need for connection and the fear of losing it, communication skills and problem solving are misguided and ineffectual. Happy couples do not talk to each other in any better ways than do unhappy couples ( Thanks to Gottman's research ).
When marriages fail, it is not increasing conflict that is the cause. It is decreasing affection and emotional responsiveness.
Pending 12 chapters coming soon