Marriage Counseling – San Luis Obispo, CA

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Group Therapy

Men’s Secure Attachment

The importance of secure attachment for growing long-term love relationships was first identified by John Bowlby and validated through the attachment research of Mary Ainsworth, Phil Shaver and Cindy Hazan. Neuroscience is now identifying a powerful body of evidence that has found that secure attachment is related to marital stability, less fear, greater cardiovascular health, less judgment, more empathy and higher levels of intimacy.

Research has also found that about half of the American population struggles with either an anxious or an avoidant style of insecure attachment. Each of these attachment styles has been correlated with more problems in marriage and all of the above problems that are created by insecure attachment.

About 90 percent of marriages have polarized into a pursue/withdraw pattern. Predominately men are the withdrawers and women are the pursuers. Withdrawers become overwhelmed by the emotional expression of pursuers and emotionally shut down as a way of protecting the relationship from their anger and protecting themselves from feeling so flooded (overwhelmed). When male withdrawers withdraw, their pursuing wives feel rejected and abandoned. It is counterintuitive for men to express empathic emotion back when their wives are trying to get their attention with dramatic or even rejecting emotion.

Research has also demonstrated that faith in God has a positive correlation with marital stability. It makes sense that when people are secure in their relationship with God that they have more capacity to weather the emotional storms of the marriage relationship. Brene Brown has done pioneering research on the toxicity of shame, which is rooted in feeling fundamentally flawed and driven to performing for love. Feeling unconditional love from God is a solution for this internal cycle of toxic shame that is often activated by disappointment in marriage relationships.

Substitute attachments that take the form of loosely boundaried relationships outside of marriage are a result of a lack of attachment fulfillment within marriage. When these relationships are uncovered they produce devastation in marriage relationships. Attachment medication in the form of pornography and other addictive behaviors are often used to fill the emptiness of insecure attachment.

The Men’s Secure Attachment Group helps men strengthen their attachments to their wives and their faith in the unconditional love of God for them. The group focuses on the problem of male withdraw and helps men find the courage to be emotionally present to their wives when they feel like shutting down.