The presence of love carries the vibration of transformation. It encourages us to love ourselves and each other into maturity. And if we let it, love will tease out our highest and best qualities.
Anchored in unconditional love, co-creative relationships are not only the gateway to more peaceful hearts but, ultimately, a more peaceful world.
In Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship, Stan Tatkin, Psy.D., MFT, explains where most of us go wrong and how we can begin to get it right. Dr. Tatkin is a couple’s therapist. Together with his wife, Tracey Boldemann-Tatkin, he founded the PACT Institute to train psychotherapists and other professionals how to incorporate his method into their practices with couples.
I spoke with Dr. Tatkin about the truth behind our relationships.
In the book you write, “The things we do to keep from getting killed often are exactly the things that keep us from getting into a relationship or staying in one.” How does this relate to the primitive brain?
Dr. Tatkin: Our lower brain operates automatically and by memory. They’re body memories intended to help us move through life without having to think the same thing over and over.
However, it causes a lot of mistakes in relationships, because when we’re under stress we make decisions based on threat avoidance.
We’re all basically dealing with our animal nature. We’re constantly trying to assess if we’re safe. Some of this has to do with real danger, and the other has to do with memory of danger or threat.
For example, your tone of voice can remind me of something that makes me feel endangered, threatened or even humiliated. That memory will line up and the primitive part of my brain will react automatically to protect myself.
How is the partner we unconsciously choose similar to the caretakers who reared us?
Dr. Tatkin: We pick by memory the people who are familiar to us. That could be a mother, father, grandparent, uncle, or first love in elementary school. Our mind joins all people of emotional importance into composites. We recognize parts of ourselves, our fantasies, our family, etc.
We pick based upon familiarity. If someone is too far away from our family culture we tend to feel homesick.
How are we Wired for Love?
Dr. Tatkin: We wired for bonding and attachment. We cannot exist well if we’re alone, because our brain is intended for interaction.
What is a Couple Bubble?
Dr. Tatkin: It’s a life-supporting system that contains two people. If we think about you and me, you and I create a relationship, that’s a third thing that we create. The relationship that we create contains the two of us and parts of us that may never come about again in another match. This thing we create is what we protect based on our agreements. We put the relationship first.
It means we’re supporting each other and protecting each other from the dangerous environment, the future that nobody knows, and we’re devoted to this protection and service to each other.
It creates energy.
It allows us to go out into the day and be less fearful because we’re tethered. We maintain this atmosphere as a way of being able to better serve the people around us, because now we have energy. We “take off the table” things that burden most people, like existential fears and we allow each other to be burdens to one another.
This atmosphere provides a great deal of energy to develop ourselves, be creative and do things we ordinarily wouldn’t be able to do. We’re better parents, better citizens and better neighbors and demonstrate secure functioning relationships.
It sounds like a conscious partnership.
Dr. Tatkin: It’s totally conscious.
Is there one thing you can do right now to rebuild your relationship from where it is?
Dr. Tatkin: There’s nothing like paying really close attention to your partner, relaxing the body and watching the face deeply. Looking into the face and into the eyes suddenly does something. It deepens the relationship. Attention and presence to detail are key and in fact the only anecdote to the automatic brain.
For more information, visit www.StanTatkin.com.