Fourth in a four part series

This information about love styles and their struggle to be adequate caregivers is new material, and recently been added to our How We Love Sexually seminar.

Hopefully, it will also be a part of the new book we will be writing soon by the same title.

For now, it is very important that we all understand how to be better at nurturing and comforting one another, for it is a key to emotional bonding and healing.

In the last three weeks, we have discussed what the Pleaser, Avoider, and Vacillator.

While the growth steps of each are different in nature, the result should be that those around you would feel warmer and closer to you.

There is no “down side” to that.

What about the controller and victim?

What do these two styles, coming out of disorganized and chaotic homes have to do to learn to give and receive comfort?

Our hearts go out to those of you who experienced the trauma of living in such painful homes.

It is not uncommon to hear of boys and girls with ulcers, migraine headaches, panic attacks, ADD, ADHD, depression and many other conditions that impede education, emotional adjustment and social adaptation.

They enter adulthood filled with fear, anger and insecurity, which makes relationships extremely difficult and challenging.

So, what can they do to grow and change?

Comfort, Nurture and Caregiving described:

The Controller:

  • Make a decision to stop the high risk, medicating addictive behaviors such as drugs and alcohol.  They will only continue to keep you bound in the trap of self-destruction as well as damaging a future generation, which perpetuates the cycle.
  • Through therapy and support groups, learn to become self aware of the hurt and sadness under the external façade of anger.
  • If you are a male, learn to accept a hug from other men.
  • Try to begin to discern the difference between intimacy and intensity. Many controllers use intensity to escape the softer emotions that make them vulnerable before others.  The process of detoxifying from intensity and adrenaline takes time and support is needed from groups, sponsors, pastors and friends that will surround you and care for you.  Until you learn to receive care from others, you will not know how to give comfort.
  • If you have serious addictions, a 30-45 day residential program is an important first step in helping you turn around a lifetime of thoughts, feelings and emotions.
  • Learn to tolerate and eventually enjoy calm and peaceful moments.  This is very hard for many of us to do, but after learning the discipline of solitude and sitting in your anxiety, it is well worth the hard journey.
  • Allow your spouse or significant other to have distance that allows for emotional, physical, intellectual and spiritual difference and separation.
  • Give them room to breathe and freedom to roam.  Stop observing and watching them like a hawk.  Give your spouse freedom from your suspicious and jealous gaze.
  • Ask them what they would enjoy doing and learn to be a supporter of their independent activities.  When they do some autonomous activity either with people or a task, enthusiastically ask them about the fun they had (without you) and celebrate with them their good time.  Encourage them to do it again.
  • Inquire how they are doing emotionally and make your questions about their well-being instead of being about you.  In other words, stop asking questions about motives and behaviors that are directly (or indirectly) an attempt to soothe your own separation anxiety and distress.  People will eventually pull away from you when you do.
  • If you do have emotional distress, be honest and directly say so, and ask them to process your internal discomfort with you and go around the comfort cycle.
  • Learn to give a spontaneous kiss or hug for their sake without wishing for some response in return. If their response is not what you expected or seems half-hearted, do not go “all bad” inside and turn it into something more than what it really is… an imperfect attempt at connection.
  • Instead of lashing out at our spouse, mourn and get angry at the painful past, which is where the emotions need to be directed. Do this with your spouse and ask them to pray for you.

The Victim:

     First, seek support and establish safety.  Then try the following.

  • As odd as it may sound, the road toward better nurturance and comfort of your spouse often involves anger, push back and firm limits to protect you and your children.  Reporting domestic violence by calling 911, having an overnight bag packed and a safe place to go if threatened, a church intervention, a court ordered restraining order and anger classes create an interruption to the unattested habitual pattern of dominance. It a context of safety, it is possible to be empathetic and loving toward the injured spouse while commanding respect at the same time.
  • You need to begin learning how to initiate emotionally oriented questions toward your spouse.  This type of inquiry will seek to determine the real emotional state underneath their blustery outer façade. Usually it is hurt, fear, shame or embarrassment.
  • If you engage and seek to inquire about their emotional well-being and seek to support them, you will be growing in your assertiveness, something that is attractive and commands respect.
  • Initiate a hug or a kiss, look them in the eye, and tell them that you love them.  Attempt to find an internal quality to compliment and something to be genuinely proud of.
  • Learn to set firm boundaries and say “No” when someone wishes to push you toward a sexual encounter that feels totally incongruous to your (or their) emotional state.
  • Insist that sex be preceded with emotional connection and care giving so that the encounter feels like a natural extension of your emotional and spiritual closeness.
  • Learn to identify what you feel and what your spouse feels about all aspects of life and love.  If you are feeling something, learn to have an adult voice and be courageous to speak your mind.  Ask your spouse to comfort you if distressed and when they are distressed, give them a hug, look them in the eye and tell them that you care how they are doing.  (Alanon meetings can help you learn to identify feelings and put them into words in a safe environment.)
  • Your Reward:  You will be respected and you will begin to experience an internal strength that will allow you to approach others (as well as let them approach you) in an atmosphere of positive anticipation as opposed to fear and an anticipatory dread.

Practice the following suggestions on a daily basis and you will be amazed at the difference you and your spouse will feel toward one another.

Thought and discussion questions for the Controller: Is my anger really at my spouse and children, or is it an attempt to make myself feel less agitated when others are doing things that I don’t like and which make me feel uncomfortable?

Is this an old familiar feeling that you have known for many years?
Does it remind you of other times of being scared, lonely and frightened as a child or teen?

Share your thoughts with your spouse.

Thought and discussion questions for the Victim:  Have you ever considered how deep rooted your fear and anxiety really is?
Is this an old familiar feeling that you have known for many years?

Does it remind you of other times of being scared, lonely and frightened as a child or teen?

Share your thoughts and feelings with your spouse.

Keep growing!  God is willing to help you on your growing and healing journey so that your character more resembles our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:15).

Love and blessings,
Milan and Kay