Why Emotional Attunement is Essential for Marriage and Personal Health
From the time we are born we need at least one trusted person to help us make sense of our internal and external world. Infants who bond with their mothers look to them for first-line help to navigate physical reality. When infants feel hungry, sad, happy or afraid they look to their mothers to see if they are tuned into (or Attuned) to their emotional reality. They look to their mothers for emotional validation and reassurance that they are supported and care for in the emotion they are experiencing.
It is this emotional attunement that builds strong attachment bonds between baby and mother. The baby builds what is called an internal working model of relationship. This working model consists of memories stored in neural pathways of the brain. These memories are with us for life and form the basis of our secure or insecure attachment style. In most cases we bring the attachment style we developed in childhood into our marriage relationships.
Attunement in marriage is just as important as it is in childhood. Adults bond with each other in marriage just the way infants bond with their mothers. When marriage partners are attuned to each other’s emotions they create secure adult attachment that can heal insecure attachment styles brought forward from childhood. Securely attached adults actually help their partners become more physically and emotionally healthy.
Research has found that secure attachment is correlated with lower blood pressure, better cardiovascular health, lower depression and anxiety and higher pain tolerance. Securely attached adults who emotionally depend on each other have stronger personal identities and are more confident when separated from their spouses. Securely attached couples are better lovers and parents.
Emotionally Focused Therapy helps couples learn emotional attunement and create secure attachment.