We’ve all got a love style.
It started forming back in childhood when your mom and dad connected with you emotionally, listened to you share your feelings, and made you understand that you mattered.
Or maybe they didn’t.
For good or for bad, the relational experiences of our early years form the roots for how – or even if – we emotionally attach to others.
Ideally, we’ll have an abundance of positive moments that enable us to become what Milan and Kay Yerkovich call “secure connectors.” Jesus was the personification of that love style.
Think about it. He wasn’t emotionally avoidant. He connected with people at a heart level and was able to share His own feelings, like He did in the Garden. And He had the ability to ask people to be with Him in His time of suffering.
Jesus also had good boundaries. He wasn’t a pleaser. He stood up to people and said no. And He didn’t take responsibility for other people’s poor choices.
The problem is, as children, we’re rarely capable of handling life’s brokenness in healthy ways. And, so, we gravitate toward love styles that protect us from further pain.
And they work.
At least, they do while we’re children. They help us survive what we’re going through at the time. But they become so ingrained into our relational vocabulary that we carry them into our adult relationships as well. What once protected us, now prevents us from connecting with our spouse or our children.
Each of us usually identifies in some way with one of the following love styles:
- Avoiders are emotionally distant and detached.
- Pleasers can be excessively nice and always want harmony. They don’t like conflict and don’t want to do anything that demands too much of them emotionally.
- Vacillators are committed to achieving a relational ideal. When they face disappointment, they protest – often through destructive choices – to get back to their perceived ideal. They see people as all good or all bad with very little middle ground.
- Controllers and victims usually come from difficult homes where there’s abuse or neglect. Aggressive personalities tend to become controllers, and compliant children usually become victims who have a hard time asserting themselves as adults.
These love styles get in the way of couples achieving true intimacy, which requires deepening levels of vulnerability, trust, and connection with one another. Healing comes when we identify our broken love style and move through a process of sanctification and healing toward the “secure connector” style that Christ modeled.
We’ll talk in-depth about these love styles over the next couple of programs we’ve titled, “Discovering Your Love Style,” with our guests, Milan and Kay Yerkovich. Together, they counsel couples and have written and spoken extensively on this subject. They’ve also been married almost 40 years and will share from their own experiences how they learned to incorporate these ideas into their own relationship.
If you’re struggling to connect at a deeper level with your spouse, you’ll want to join us for this conversation. I think you’ll hear some practical ideas that will help you take your relationship deeper and set you free to develop greater intimacy.