I am going to talk about how it is that I came to understand the theories of attachment. All my understanding of the tenets of attachment beyond babyhood came from comparing and juxtaposing the marriage relationship with the mother-child relationship. If I considered how Sparky would respond to me in a particular circumstance, I could more objectively determine what I might need to do for my child.
I could compare an adult situation to a child situation, knowing that to the child, their problems which might seem small, are large to them. Of course the marriage relationship has differences to the mother-child relationship, but there are some things about relationships in general that are universal. Trust. Compassion. Respect. Love. And in both marriage and parent-child relationship, there is Authority.
Trust is tantamount to the success of a relationship. If we can trust someone on a day to day basis, then we believe that we can trust them in bad times. They have proven that they are reliable. So in a mother-child relationship, if a mother has consistently yelled, emotionally withdrawn, punished, guilted or shamed the child, even in small ways, the child is not likely to have an innate sense of trust in circumstances, say, when he has something bad to tell her. Like he has done thrown a ball through a window. He might lie, avoid telling, try to hide the infraction…but he’ll be doing all this because he fears his mother.
Here lies the difficulty, though. What if something terrible happens to the child, like sexual abuse. Of course a mother isn’t going to punish a child who has suffered abuse. But abused people feel guilt, above any other emotion. A young person feeling guilt about abuse is not likely turn to their mother if they fear the response.
A lack of trust in marriage has the same effect. What if one spouse consistently got mad, yelled, withdrew emotionally, guilted the other about the little day to day things of life, like not keeping the house clean, buying something frivolous, totalling the car.
What a wife was faced with an unexpected pregnancy?
What if a husband lost his job?
Would these spouses feel that they could turn to the other or support in a challenging time? Would they feel like they could ease their burden by sharing it with their wife or husband? Would they feel safe in their home, with their beloved, where safety should be found? Not likely.
It was in my marriage that I found a place to understand what it is about attachment that works. In the question, “How would I want to be treated?”
More coming on compassion, respect, love and authority.