Do you know your love style?
We’ve all got one. It started forming back in childhood when your mom and dad listened to you, encouraged you to share your feelings, and taught you how much you mattered.
Or maybe they didn’t.
For good or for bad, our earliest relational experiences form the roots for how – or if – we emotionally attach to others. Ideally, we had an abundance of positive moments that enabled us to become what authors and counselors Milan and Kay Yerkovich call “secure connectors.”
Jesus was the personification of the “secure connector” love style. He connected with people at a heart level and was able to share His own feelings, like He did in Gethsemane. He asked people to be with Him in His time of suffering.
But He also had good boundaries. He wasn’t an avoider or a pleaser. He stood up to people, said no, and He didn’t take responsibility for other people’s poor choices.
Our problem is that we gravitate toward love styles that protect us from pain. And those behaviors work – at least while we’re children. They help us survive what we’re going through at the time. As adults, they hinder us. What once protected us now prevents us from connecting with our spouse or our children.
Each of us 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 prevent couples from achieving deepening levels of vulnerability, trust, and connection with one another.
Fortunately, there is healing as we identify them and move through a process that transforms you more and more into the “secure connector” love style that Christ modeled.
Milan and Kay Yerkovich are with us on our Focus on the Family Broadcast “Discovering Your Love Style” to explain how the concept of “love styles” can transform your relationships.
Milan and Kay have been counseling couples and families for over 30 years. They have spoken and written extensively on this subject, including their book, How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage, which is available for a gift of any amount. Visit our website for more information.
If your marriage is struggling, give us a call. We have marriage specialists who will call you back free of charge, spend some time with you on the phone, and then refer you to a like-minded counselor in your area, if needed. The number during business hours is 1-800-A-FAMILY (232-6459).