Safety & Security Comes From a Strong Alliance

A strong alliance with your partner is crucial to the health of your relationship.  Are you both on the same side? Are you the person I turn to when I’m afraid, hurt or sad? Is your partner, “your person”?  The person I run to for respite and love? If you answer, no. That is a problem. You need to look at what elements are preventing this type of closeness to exist.  Most of my clients have had years of erosion to this alliance. Stan Taktin, calls this alliance the “Couple Bubble.” The alliance is basic, it’s or emotional safety and connection to each other.  Many of the clients I see enter therapy with an eroded alliance. They see each other as the enemy versus the person that I run to for safety, security and love. What is making your relationship insecure?  

I think there are several elements that erode an alliance.  However, before we identify elements that erode an alliance, let’s start where it all begins…childhood.  Our first experiences of alliances come from our early attachments with primary caregivers. If there was a break or disturbance in our attachment with early caregivers, it can affect the way we attach as adults.  John Bowlby, a child development theorist, that spent a great deal of time researching and writing about attachment theory identified four types of attachment styles: Secure, Ambivalent, Avoidant and Disorganized.  Secure attachment refers to a child feeling safe and loved by their primary caregiver. There is a strong attunement for the child’s needs. The child feels safe and happy when the caregiver is around and sad and distressed when the caregiver is away.  However, there is a knowing the caregiver will return. Ambivalent attached children don’t feel they can rely on the caregiver for their needs. There has been constant experiences where this parent has been unreliable or unavailable, causing anxiety within the child.  Avoidant attached children distance themselves from closeness. These children typically have been neglected or abused and they see closeness as unsafe. Disorganized attached children experience a mixed type of bond with the parent. The caregiver gives no clear messages of when closeness and connection will occur.  The child never knows what to expect and is often thrown off guard. This parent may have a chronic mental health issue or struggle with substance use. This child may experience anxiety or avoidance at various times or in certain environments.

As we grow, we take these early experiences with us into our relationships.  Of course, many painful experiences can be corrected when new individuals enter our life who are reliable and available.  Our love relationships can be an emotional corrective experience, or these relationships can reinforce old experiences and beliefs from the past.  Many of us are unaware of this concept when we enter a relationship, because we are drawn to the person with great passion or excitement. We are often drawn to what’s familiar, not necessarily what is good for us.  

Some couples start with a shaky alliance, because they may be accustomed to the insecure bond from their past. Over time these cracks, can become craters, leaving it next to impossible to create mending.  Some of the elements that can erode alliance are: unavailability, avoidance, unreliability, inattention (lack of attunement), expectations, abuse (verbal, physical and spiritual), blaming, breaking agreements, lying, lack of time spent together, lack of curiosity, neglecting needs, past trauma interfering with the relationship, lack of touch, lack of accepting your partner as they are, lack of effective communication skills, power and control.

Creating an alliance with your partner starts with a mission statement.  What do we stand for? What are the elements of our mission together as a strong system?  I would start by setting an intention for yourself and your relationship as you take the journey of developing a strong alliance. Write mission statement today. What you stand for as an individual. Then write a mission statement together for the relationship.

Elana Clark-Faler
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