How We Love Sex…or Don’t
Here is Where You are Headed… THE SECURE CONNECTOR:
These individuals endorse romantic, affectionate sexual behaviors and are more likely to engage their partner to deepen their bond by pleasuring one another. Secure individuals are more likely to seek and value intimacy and have sex for these reasons. Since secure individuals have a healthy balance between intimacy and autonomy needs, those who are secure are less likely to have sex to please or appease. Confidence makes them less likely to have sex to affirm their self-worth or to cope with negative emotions. Over all, secure individuals are less likely to have sex for unhealthy reasons.
Mothers and fathers who give their child affectionate touch that is tender, soothing, careful and sometimes playful help promote a secure love style. Secure individuals have memories of comfort and readily seek relief within their relationship with their spouse. They have been helped to pay attention to feelings, which is associated with the use of touch to convey affection. Said another way, “Individuals open to feelings are more apt to use touch as a means to establish proximity and emotional closeness.” In contrast, “individuals who are unsure of what emotions they are experiencing are more likely to report a host of negative reactions to touching.” (Attachment Theory and Close Relationships, Simpson and Rholes Editors. Brennan, Wu, Love: p. 411)
Awareness of Self and Others:
• Self-Awareness: Secure individuals have learned to self-reflect and know what they feel and what they need and desire. This fosters good communication when it comes to the sexual relationship. They can ask for what they want, are open to explore and find joy in playfulness.
• Other-Awareness: Respect, self-control and the ability to delay gratification help the secure individual be open to and interested in their spouse’s feelings and needs. Reciprocity helps the sexual relationship flourish, as both are comfortable in the roles of giver and receiver.
Motivation to have Sex:
• To Enhance Romance and Emotional Connection: More often than not, secure individuals are motivated to have sex to promote intimacy and bond with their spouse. This goal is associated with positive feelings about sex.
• Playfulness and Pleasure: Secure connectors have sex to bring pleasure to one another and enjoy being playful with one another.
Dealing with negative emotions and resolving conflict:
Conflict resolution is a skill learned in childhood and is carried into the adult relationship. Sexual differences and problems can be more easily tolerated without “taking it personally” and negotiation skills help resolve differences.
We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from our new How We Love Sex…or Don’t series. The seminar explores the differences in all of the Love Styles and helps to promote God’s design for sex. Please visit Howwelove.com for more information or to order the new series.
Here is a great reminder from a blog Kay wrote last year on how to handle the Holidays!
Here is a good rule when you are going to be around difficult relatives. Predict what will happen. You know them well. Talk with your spouse or kids (if they are old enough) about what you predict. Then have a sense of humor when it happens. Give someone in your family a thumbs up….”see, there it was…my prediction just came true. The goal? You know you are an adult around your family and relatives if when you leave you are not disappointed, angry, or hurt. After all what did you expect?
Avoider: Learn to feel…black and white to color. Jesus came to earth because he feels love and desire. Ask Him to wake you up this holiday season to the importance of relationships. That’s what the coming of our savior was all about; winning our hearts and meeting our deepest need. It wasn’t about tasks as much as expressing love. Frozen, tundra heart of the avoider waits to be unthawed. It stings to unthaw a frost bit hand. Ask Jesus to melts the ice until you are free to live in the color of emotion and accept your needs as important and worth meeting.
Pleaser: Pleaser season giving giving, giving. Stop. Quiet. Look .listen. What can you receive? Ask for help. Sit with people and talk instead of cleaning or doing dishes. The holidays mean we are around relatives who might hurt us with insensitive words. Maybe someone in our own family won’t appreciate all the work and effort you have made. Jesus proved hurt and rejection aren’t deadly. Glorious birth, then rejection. Death before resurrection. No fear. Rejection can be transformed into resurrection.
Vacillator: No idyllic Christmas. Just real. Jesus birth was messy not ideal. Let the season be good and bad. It won’t be as good as you hope and something will go wrong. So when it does, don’t over react , go all bad and suffer. Let it roll off. Let good and bad live close together in the days ahead. Jesus came into our world a broken place and still He accepts us as broken. Learn to let yourself and those around you be imperfect and messy. It’s a part of life.
Controller: Holidays can be reminders of painful childhood times. Think about your feelings about Christmas. Are they overly idealized to make up for all you suffered as a child? Or do you just barely tolerate the holidays because of how miserable they were growing up? It’s time of a reality based redo. Try to make this Christmas something “little you” can enjoy. Remember your anger is a cover for tender feelings. Something will probably upset you so when it does, look for the vulnerable feeling when you feel angry.
Victim: Jesus tolerated the intolerable on the cross. He understands your pain. Find solace in His love. Find Jesus in the days ahead in His gift of creation. Look, see, hear, touch the wonder. You are His wonder too. He came to this earth for you because you are loveable, worthy and He rejoices when you become His child. He is a good parent and he desires you. Dwell on Romans 8.
Milan and Kay have welcomed two new grandchildren into the family in the past couple of weeks. Busy times full of love and gratitude!
We would love to have you join us in January for a local How We Love our Kids event at Grace Fellowship church. Please click on the events tab to find the event and see all of the details.
We have just introduced a new Secure Connector CD and audio download. Last year, Milan and Kay wrote a whole blog series on all of the traits of the Secure Connector and we received great feedback. They have recorded many of the thoughts and tips from that series on this new CD. All of the Love Style Lectures are on sale this month! This includes all of the individual Love Style CDs and downloads! Great stocking stuffers!!
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to growing more with you in the New Year!
We are excited to announce that the New Updated 2013 Love Style Audio Lectures are now available in both CD and audio download format.
Hear Milan and Kay discuss each Love Style in depth as well as how each style presents in relationships. Milan and Kay also go over growth goals and strategies for each love style to move toward being more securely connected.
For a limited time these CDs and downloads are available on howwelove.com for a reduced price. Don’t miss out!!
We thank you for your support and continue to pray for all of you on your journey toward healthy relationships.
Traits of the Secure Connector: Asking for Redo’s.
Well we have been in a long but important series on all the traits of the secure connector. These can serve as goals no matter what love style you are. Today we write on a very important topic that we hope will become common place in your home. Would you answer the following question with a “Yes”, or “No”?
I can ask for a “do-over” and try again when I blow it with my mate. (or kids)
We all have bad days when we are not at our best. We talk too harshly or dismiss too quickly. Maybe we are dishonest, avoid responding to a family member’s needs or make a selfish decision. Perhaps we realize we were insensitive, sarcastic or hurtful with our words. Some of us use body language that is destructive we roll our eyes in annoyance, sigh with impatience or glare in disgust. We all make mistakes but many times we don’t actively repair by owning our shortcoming and asking for a do-over. Here is a sentence you need to make a part of your family’s life.
I was insensitive when I minimized your pain (acknowledge the bad behavior that fits) and that must have make you feel discounted (make a guess as to what feeling your bad behavior caused) and I would like a do- over so I can really hear you. Is now a good time?
This statement is about your wrongdoing and the desire to correct the offensive behavior. It is not about blaming anyone else for your reaction and behavior. Let’s look at another example.
I raised my voice and had a harsh tone last night and that must have made you feel demeaned and I would like a do-over so I can respond in a more tender thoughtful way. Is now a good time?
Son, I was hard on you at the ball game yesterday. I bet you felt anxious. It’s hard to do your best when I’m constantly yelling directions. I would like to hear how you feel about my behavior. Next week I would like a do over and I will control myself and be more encouraging.
Sometimes we cannot redo something but we can still offer to listen to the feelings of the one we have offended.
I tried to be funny last night at dinner and my humor was at your expense and I bet that made you feel humiliated. I wish I would not have done that but I want to hear how it made you feel before I apologize. (Save your apology until after you have listened to the feelings.)
It’s always best if we ask for the do-over when our behavior or words are out of line. But it’s also OK to request a redo.
Your anger really shut me down last night. I care about our communication and I would really like a do-over. Is now a good time?
Each love style has its own propensity for offensive behavior. Be on the lookout for how your behavior, words and body language affect others and take ownership and ask for a do-over when you are wrong….even its minor in your from your perspective.
Avoider: Most like to hurt others by
• not responding
• fixing rather than listening
• ignoring opportunities for comfort
• minimizing another’s feelings
• putting too much value on tasks and performance
• not being grace filled with another’s mistakes.
Pleaser: Most likely to hurt others by
• not being honest
• minimizing problems
• overcommitting until your family is getting leftovers,
• not confronting when something is wrong
• being indecisive.
Vacillator: Most likely to hurt others by
• idealism (expectations too high)
• devaluing (making others all bad)
• harsh or mean words when angry
• Criticizing others when their ways or views are different.
Controller: Most likely to hurt others by
• harsh mean words
• insisting on one’s own way
• not deferring or others
• not listening to feelings
• views and opinions of others
• making excuses for own bad behavior.
Victim: Most likely to hurt others by
• Not protecting self or kids
• ignoring what is blatantly wrong
• making excuses for offenders
• taking the blame for things that are not their responsibility.
Thanks for listening,
Trait: I don’t have secrets I am keeping from my mate.
Some of the most relationally destructive stories I’ve heard as a marriage counselor have been when a husband or wife inadvertently discovers secrets that have been hidden by their spouse. Just to name a few…
• Secret bank accounts and credit cards.
• Another family in a distant town.
• A knock at the door and a person searching for their biological father or mother.
• A cross dressing husband.
• Prior felony and subsequent prison sentence.
• Massive debt due to an addictive gambling problem.
• Multiple prior marriages.
• Hetero and homo sexual affairs.
• Child molestation / incest.
I know I’ve shared this story before but it deserves repeating. One of the most tragic stories was from a caller to our New Life Live Radio show, a nationally syndicated counseling call in show (see www.newlife.com for local stations and times). The woman shared that her husband had died suddenly nine months ago and the family was still deeply grieving because he was a hero to everyone. As she began to clean out his office and go through computer files, she discovered vast amounts of pornography as well as names and numbers of prostitutes and call girls in various cities. E-mails were also found that detailed meeting dates and locations.
She went on to say that the family’s continual remembrances, loving memories and fun stories made her so angry. “I want to dig him up and kill him!” “Should I tell my family or suffer in this torment alone?”
For once, all of us were silent as the impact of her words sunk in (“dead air” in broadcasting is a no no). Finally the silence was broken and we said “Tell your family!”
This last Monday, we were talking about Valentine’s Day. Someone said “Don’t forget to buy your wife a card!” My response was, “How about an honest card that has something to do with reality? Perhaps “I know that our love has not been what we both have wanted, but I want it to be better. Let’s try to grow together this year!” Maybe the best and most healing gift would be to reveal a secret, ask forgiveness and begin to experience freedom.
Thanks for listening.
Trait: I have a relationship with God as well as close friends and don’t expect my spouse to meet every need.
As a couple’s counselor, one my tasks is to dispel the myths and fantasies about romance that have permeated the people’s thinking. When Josh & Karen came into my office, their marriage was in shambles and both were in a state of deep despair. Karen looked at me pleadingly and insisted “If he were my soul mate, then we would be ‘one’ as God intended and I would feel completely comfortable and fulfilled!” I empathized with her pain and reassured her that though her feelings were common, her dream was romance-novel-babble. (It is common to hear the words psycho-babble and religious-babble, so I decided to make up a new word… in the moment… much to her chagrin).
Her desire was even inaccurate theologically. No fallen human being can meet all of our needs because they are not omnipresent, omniscient nor omnipotent. Therefore no one will be present enough, knowledgeable enough or powerful enough to meet our every need. If we really want to be accurate biblically, a full transformation from our brokenness will not occur until we are in God’s presence and we are shed of our flesh which has been damaged and corrupted. As I said in our last blog, Kay and I have spent the last 25 years growing and re-parenting one another. Yet deeply tied to this journey was the fact that we each had to do deep individual work to lay aside idealized thinking and become realistic about life and love. This includes the fact that emotional and relational struggles will always be with us and that any spouse will be limited by time and energy to be able to come along side and cheer me on.
Having said that, a healthy marriage should always be growing and increasing in security, safety and bonding each and every year. But this takes a lot of work and hundreds of trips around “The Comfort Circle” (How We Love, Waterbrook Press 2006, Chapters 15-19) to maintain a steady pace of growth. Remember, for the person trying to honor God in their life, every aspect of life is swimming upstream, so if we stop working, we automatically drift backward.
Not long ago, I was eagerly looking forward to Kay coming home from work because I was agitated about something and wanted to process with her. When she walked through the door, not only was she tired from a full day of clients, but she was coming down with the flu and was headed to bed. I told her I really needed to talk and she said, “I can’t be there for you right now, could you call one of your good friends [not someone of the opposite sex] and ask them to help meet your needs?” After settling her in bed, I had some prayer time with the Lord, and then I called one of my friends and processed my frustration. After a while, I began to feel a sense of relief and peace.
Secure connectors have realistic expectations about themselves, others, relationships, life and God and have multiple sources for relief and comfort. Who’s on your team? Hopefully you are cultivating new and safe relationships that can love you and provide relief in addition to the comfort you experience with your spouse.
Thanks for listening,
Trait: I have compassion for my spouse in their areas of weakness because I understand their childhood wounds that contributed to those areas of struggle.
Last week we looked at Shirley and her difficulty with holding on to resentment and inability to forgive her spouse. I listed several things that Shirley needed to do to grow up and become more capable of releasing resentments and forgiving others. Another key area of growth that Shirley will need to be willing to daily remember her husband’s childhood wounds and that directly contribute to his areas of weakness.
I tell the story in our book How We Love (Waterbrook Press 2006) of how irritated I once used to be at my wife Kay. Fifteen years into our marriage, her weakness aggravated me to no end. The fact that she was an introvert, an avoider and a person who suffered from a chronic low grade depression made it very hard for me to connect with her. She always felt so evasive and distant. All my attempts to please her seemingly had no impact upon her ability to be more responsive to me. I’d reach my limit and then get angry at her and drift toward despondency and hopelessness. Meanwhile, my complaints and criticisms just compounded her tendency to pull away and become more depressed and self-loathing.
Then one day, everything changed. On a long drive on the freeway I begged God to help me see her in a different way… perhaps His way. I knew that my frustration and chronic dissatisfaction was only causing her to shrivel up and become more lifeless. Somewhere during the drive, I remembered some of the conversations I had with Kay about her childhood and I suddenly had a picture in my head that would forever change my view of Kay. I saw a little seven year old sitting in her childhood bedroom on her bed… alone and sad.
At that moment, all the dots connected and I realized that the lonely sad little girl was alive and well inside my adult wife’s body. For the first time in my life, I began to have compassion for her and see the childhood wounds that were still animating her adult behavior. I cried for her.
When I arrived home, I told her what had happened and that I wanted to get to know the little girl inside that I had never seen or acknowledged. I admitted that while the thought of all this scared me to pieces, we would take as much time as it took for both of use to see her and begin to love her more and more every day.
Twenty five years later, the little girl is more grown up and Milan’s little boy slowly morphed into a man. Today, we both feel grown up inside and reflect frequently upon the process of how we re-parented one another.
How about you? If you are growing toward a more secure connector, then you will be growing in your ability to have compassion for your spouse in their areas of weakness because you understand their childhood wounds that contribute to their areas of struggle.
Thanks for listening,
We have decided to do something new an different for these last two weeks leading up to Christmas. Starting next Monday 12/17, we will send out a daily Tweet giving one of the Love Styles a practical tip to help with the relational struggles that can be associated with the Holidays. SO… if you want to get these practical tips you will need to follow us on Twitter. Our Twitter User ID is @MilanandKay. You can also view all of the tips on our Facebook page How We Love. Let us know if these tips help you to navigate the Holidays in a more securely connected way!
Monday – Avoiders
Tuesday – Pleasers
Wednesday – Vacillators
Thursday – Victims
Friday – Controllers
We are also excited to announce that our Focus on the Family Broadcast, “Deepening the Connection with your Spouse” made the best of 2012 series. Therefore, it will be reairing on Focus on the Family on December 17 & 18th. Live streaming audio will be available on FocusontheFamily.com/radio on those dates.
Traits of a Secure Connector:
I am not afraid of conflict because I have skills to discuss, compromise and most often resolve conflict.
What was conflict like in your home growing up? Loud? Chaotic? A free-for-all? Non-existent? Did you observe repairs after something went wrong? Conflict is a part of life and the Bible is full of many examples of relational struggles. Conflict is not scary for someone who grew up in a home where conflict was acknowledged, talked through and most often resolved. What skills do we need to resolve conflict?
Honesty: Milan and I spent the first 15 years avoiding conflict and we had to be less than truthful to do this. Avoiders don’t like the messy emotions that come with conflict and pleasers are afraid of anger and separation so often in these homes conflict is minimized, ignored or spiritualized away. (I’ll just forgive; turn the other cheek, etc.) The bible says speak the truth in love. (Eph. 4) Sometimes the truth hurts. At times it’s frightening to be honest. It’s a risk. But nothing will change and growth will be at a stalemate in our most important relationships if we are not honest.
Control over Reactivity
We can’t listen if we are reactive. Reactivity means we are quick to respond to stress with fight, flight or freeze and in any of these states our ability to manage our emotions is compromised. How does reactivity block our ability to handle conflict? Reactivity blocks reason!! When you are reactive, you cannot listen. You cannot separate the past from the present. You cannot say things in a loving way. You cannot entertain another’s point of view or differing perspective. To resolve conflict we must learn to respond, not react. Let’s look at the common things that make each of the love styles over react.
Avoiders get reactive when someone is emotional and needy. They flee. Crying kids, a weeping spouse, or emotional upheavals cause avoiders to react. A person who is “needy” and asks for “too much” also irritates avoiders. Introverted avoiders may withdraw and detach while extroverted avoiders may use anger and annoyance to make emotions stop. Somewhere in their past avoiders learned it was not safe to feel and need so they learned to be independent and self-sufficient. They don’t know what to do with emotions, so they overreact. Avoiders stop overreacting when they allow themselves to feel and need once again. Handling conflict means learning to be comfortable with and manage difficult emotions.
Pleasers are good news junkies. Conflict is to be avoided. Anger makes the pleaser freeze. They overreact to bad news, negative feelings and stressful circumstances with alarm….make it stop! Pleasers don’t look on the surface like they are overreacting, but if we could see all that goes on under the surface it would be obvious. When pleasers cannot make it all OK they get anxious, frantic and uneasy. They go into hyper drive to find a solution so they can calm down. Somewhere in their past, pleasers learned that anger and criticism were too painful to endure and must be avoided. Or, they absorbed the fear of their parent and feel life is scary and they must protect those they love from anything negative. Pleasers stop overreacting when they deal with the fear and anxiety that drives their lives. Learning to tolerate anger, ask hard questions, and process difficult feelings helps them respond rather than react.
Vacillators overreact (fight response to stress) when they are disappointed, have to wait, or feel abandoned or invisible. Since they are looking for the consistent connection they missed as kids, when they don’t get it they feel unloved and marginalized. This anxiety around abandonment is so miserable anger and blame stop the anxiety and shame of wanting and not having.
A vacillator’s overreaction is easy to see. They get angry and are not afraid to let you know how they feel. Introverted vacillators may be quiet and sulk, but everyone in the family knows they are mad and upset. Let’s not give the vacillator the bad rap. The avoiders fleeing and the pleasers freezing may look “nicer” but in reality they are just as destructive to honest, calm, communication.
Vacillators stop overreacting when they learn to accept the good and the bad together instead of idealizing and then devaluing. Overreactions happen at the point where shame shifts to anger and the devaluing then justifies the anger. Learning to take this private experience of shame and anxiety into relationship rather than move to anger and devaluation helps stop the cycle. Asking directly for what they want, rather than hoping others mind read, also helps. Learning to manage this cycle opens the vacillator to be able to listen and share without getting derailed.
Controllers overreact to just about everything because they convert every vulnerable feeling into anger. They control so they don’t have to feel the painful vulnerable emotions of childhood….terror, shame, humiliation, inadequacy, powerlessness, hopelessness and confusion to name a few. As long as they keep control of people and circumstances, these painful feelings can be kept at arm’s length. Facing their childhood pain and learning to accept comfort takes away the need for so much anger and control. Less anger….less reactivity. Less reactivity gives the ability to listen and resolve.
Victims overreact to anger and intimidation. It’s easy for them to feel the frozen terror they felt as kids. It’s difficult to remain an adult if one is paralyzed by fear and terror. The victims freezing can move beyond the pleasers panic to dissociation. It appears that a victim under reacts, but it’s important to remember that victims learned to tolerate the intolerable as kids. It’s hard to recognize, as an adult, what is normal and what is not normal. Victims have to learn the importance of safety to blossom and grow. They need to discover the importance of boundaries and exercise their “no” muscle so they have a voice. Victims can also overreact and dump all the stored up anger onto kids when the scary partner is not home. Unresolved grief and anger is the fuel for these overreactions. Facing the past and working though unresolved trauma is so important for both victims and controllers.
Working on recognizing our harmful love style and growing toward a secure connector means we are learning to control our knee jerk reaction to fight, flee or freeze. When conflict is really resolved we experience a moment of intimacy. We listened. We were listened too. Connection is restored.
Thanks for listening!
Special Announcement: Relationship 180 wil lhold its annual Fall Celebration and Fundraiser on Saturday, November 3rd at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club. We would love to have you join us! For more informaiton, and to RSVP, please go to Relationship180.com.
Milan and Kay are in Dallas this weekend speaking at a New Life marriage weekend. Please pray for them and the success of the weekend!
Trait: “I can ask to be held or hugged when I need comfort.”
Stressed out by the upcoming college admissions process, my daughter came up to me in the kitchen this week and said “I am super stressed out and anxious, can I have a hug!” As I was giving her a hug I thought to myself, Wow! It is impressive and mature of her to be aware enough to know why she was feeling stressed and seek out relational comfort rather than isolating or turning to another means to get relief.
As an avoider, that grew up in a household where there was little comfort to be had this is still a trait that is hard for me. My natural tendencies are to isolate and be by myself until the anxiety or stress goes away. Other forms of relief that come more natural are to go exercise or take a nap. It is also easy to get caught up in the frustration of why I feel stress or anxiety and camp there. This will manifest itself in a countenance of anger and frustration which does not let the people around me know that I really want comfort. Immaturely, I can also sit back and wait for those around me to “just know” that I am in distress and need comfort and then when they don’t see or give me what I need, it just adds to the distress.
As I grow in self-awareness and seek out relief and comfort in relationship, I need to risk enough to ask for what I need. Avoiders are used to not needing or receiving comfort so, in the beginning, these hugs can even feel foreign. Growing on the path to being a Secure Connector requires me to lean into being held or receiving a hug and, over time, it begins to feel more natural and stress relieving. Jesus was very aware of his needs and in times of distress and exhaustion he sought out, and asked for, what he needed. He asked those around him to sit with him or pray with him and often times he left the crowds in order to find some comfort and relief in the quiet.
How about you? Are you aware of what you need in order to lessen stress and receive comfort? Can you ask for a hug or be held to find relational relief? Keep pressing on and asking for what you need!
Thanks for listening!
PS: Milan or Kay will be back next week to share about the next trait!