Aside from infidelity, which also has a slew of underlying causes of its own, divorce is frequently the final outcome of a relationship that was unhealthy, to begin with. Unfortunately, when neither person is aware of their issues, they can hardly invest time to heal or look for professional help.
Consider the reasons that caused conflicts or even the very divorce between you and your spouse. Ask any of your divorced friends, and they’ll likely come up with similar responses to yours. They typically resemble statements such as “We couldn’t stop arguing”, “He became insanely jealous”, or “She never really opened up to me.”
Although the problem is far more complex than what a simple blog can cover, it can at the very least give you invaluable insights into how your bond works and what goes wrong – so that you can prevent future conflicts. The theory of attachment styles dates back to the sixties, and it helps us unravel the intricate behavioral patterns in the dynamics of our relationships.
Here are a few pointers to spot your own style and that of your former or potential spouse, and ways to help yourself overcome the most common pitfalls of unhealthy attachment forms.
How an Unhealthy Relationship Attachment Style Leads to Divorce
The paradox of anxious attachment
When you feel insecure and in constant need of affection and attention, accompanied by feelings of doubt in the love of your partner, you’re most likely developing an anxious attachment to them. These emotions are often expressed through anger, aggression, overwhelming sadness, and the partner will feel attacked as well as pressured into providing more care and affection.
The paradox lies in needing the affection of your partner while you simultaneously doubt its authenticity. When paired with a person prone to building avoidant attachments, the anxious partner will feel constantly tortured, especially when both fail to understand the underlying psychological factors at play.
Being complete before entering a relationship
No marriage dissolves because of one person, but because of the dynamics between two individuals. Likewise, no one is truly “complete” at any stage during their life, since we continue to evolve and change over the course of our entire existence. However, we can do so much on our part if and when we know how to take care of ourselves and grow as a person before and as we build our relationships.
This heavily depends on the society you are raised in, as in the Land of Down Under, there’s a great emphasis on the notion of wellbeing, self-care, and self-love. Their culture empowers people to care for themselves through healthy eating with the help of brands such as Australian Sports Nutrition paired with regular exercise. Taking good care of yourself is a great start in preventing highly dependent bonds in which you feel as if your very essence and value depend on the other person.
Perhaps we can learn something from a nation whose divorce rates have plummeted to their lowest in 40 years.
Avoidant attachment and its perils
The avoidant style presents itself in the form of a detached, emotionally unavailable person that prefers not to express their emotions or immerse themselves into an emotionally intense experience. One could say that they prefer no attachment at all.
However, you would be amiss to presume that this behavior is merely narcissistic or malevolent. It stems from fear of getting hurt and being vulnerable, and it serves as a defense mechanism. Unfortunately, it’s extremely difficult to communicate with someone who shuts down any attempt of close interaction, let alone form a long-lasting marriage with them.
Embracing the emotional learning curve
Although superficial bonds may have their appeal, marriages are never formed, nor sustained on sexual attraction alone or discussing the weather. It takes courage to recognize an opportunity to open up, and even more of it to actually take the risk of being hurt. Recognizing that you can safely express your feelings takes time. It also takes time to find appropriate methods for maneuvering those emotions that will protect your marriage.
You can embark on this journey alone, or you can work with a therapist to resolve your emotional troubles that have led to the end of your marriage. Even online options such as BetterHelp can serve you and your spouse well if you notice your issues in time. It’s important to note that we usually spend our entire lives recognizing our attachment style issues as they rear their not-so-attractive heads when we’re most vulnerable.
Feeling and forming secure attachments
Finally, secure attachments are formed only by individuals who feel good and confident in their own life, who might have had negative encounters, emotional and otherwise, but have been able to cope with them in healthy ways. When a person with avoidant or anxious attachment patterns connects with a secure partner, they are far more likely to embrace that secure mode of behavior over time. Still, that is not a promise, nor the best way to develop emotionally.
We all need to take responsibility for our own emotional wellbeing before we begin another marriage or start assigning blame for the mistakes of the past. It takes time, therapy, and proper self-care in our everyday lives to embrace new modes of acting and ways of connecting and bonding with our loved ones.
This article first appeared on DivorceMag.com