The How We Love workbook is once again available as a separate book. If you prefer to have a workbook that has room to write your answers and thoughts as you go, this may be for you. The workbook is also still available in the back of the paperback version of How We Love.
You can get the workbook at the following sites:
Amazon:http://www.amazon.com title=”Amazon” target=”_blank”>
Also, we will be in Everett, WA on 5/17-5/18-2-13
On Friday night we will present a training for leaders and counselors who are familiar with the How We Love material and are interested in learning more about leading a How We Love group. The training will be from 6-9pm at New Life Foursquare church.
On Saturday, May 18 we will present a How We Love workshop from 9-4 at New Life Foursquare church. For more details and registration information, please visit: www.newlifecenter.org/howwelove or check under our “Events” tab.
Similarities and Differences between the Avoider and Pleaser
Are you an Avoider or Pleaser?
What are the similarities between the avoider and the pleaser? Neither style likes to deal with negative messy emotions. Pleasers don’t like conflict so they avoid difficult feelings. Avoiders have no training from childhood in how to enter into emotions and deal with feelings. To the avoider, feelings are a foreign language they don’t speak. If an avoider and pleaser marry they will likely report that they rarely fight. This is because each avoids problems as problems involve difficult emotions. Pleasers and avoiders both minimize bad news as they don’t have the skills to deal with challenging emotions.
How are these two styles different? Pleasers are more empathetic than avoiders and will try and indirectly “fix” and make things better. They want to alleviate suffering and make it go away by excusing, distracting, minimizing, and looking at the “bright side.” To the pleaser love equals rescuing others from having to experience difficult emotions or consequences. This style is the classic co-dependent who needs to be needed. Pleasers view consequences as unpleasant and will have difficultly letting a family member experience the negative consequences of their actions and choices. Rather than letting others learn from mistakes, pleasers rescue people from consequences.
Unlike pleasers, avoiders lack empathy and think every mistake should have a consequence because they put such high value on responsibility. While pleasers can be too soft, avoiders can be too harsh. Having received little grace and tenderness as kids, these are foreign concepts to avoiders. Avoiders show love by being responsible and doing tasks. While pleasers “fix” difficult emotions, avoiders dismiss difficult emotions by saying things like, “Settle down,” “Stop crying, it won’t change anything,” “Forget it and move forward.”
Both of these styles need to learn to identify feelings and explain their internal experiences. Pleasers need to develop boundaries and the emotion of anger. Avoiders need to learn to take their stress to people and learn to receive empathy so they can understand the value of comfort and the relief it can bring. The avoider has difficulty understanding or valuing comfort until they allow themselves to need.
Happy Mother’s Day
This is the last weekend to get the NEW Love Style Lectures, either download or CD, on sale. Next week they will go back up to regular price. We hope you are enjoying them. Also, keep your eyes open for some other new exciting products we are working on!
For a few weeks we are going to do a series on similarities and differences between the different styles. We are asked certain questions again and again when we teach How We Love workshops. Here are the most common questions to help clarify your love style.
Are you a pleaser or a vacillator?
Pleasers are similar to vacillators in one way. They both like proximity and try to please to make others happy. However, their motives differ. Pleasers are nice to avoid conflict and rejection. Vacillators are nice to gain attention and be noticed. Many times at our conferences someone will come up and say, “I think I am a pleaser, but I’m not sure. I always ask this question, “Do you get mad?” If the answer is, “No, I don’t get angry,” then I can be pretty sure they are a pleaser. Pleasers don’t get angry as it might cause conflict and pleasers are terrified of fighting because they don’t like anyone to be angry with them. Pleasers believe anger isn’t “nice” and pleasers like harmony. In fact learning to feel and express anger is a growth goal for pleasers.
If the answer is, “Yes I get mad,” then my next guess is this…”I think you may be a vacillator.” Vacillators try to please to make some sort of connection happen. If their efforts do not produce the desired effect then vacillators get mad whereas pleasers will just try harder. The vacillator’s anger may be direct and loud or it may be a sudden dark mood that sends a clear message of displeasure. Vacillators protest, (anger) then feel despair, (this will never change) then detach. Protest, despair, detachment. Eventually vacillators re-engage (without resolution) and the pattern repeats. After many years the vacillators may permanently detach and give up trying. At this point they may say,” I think I’m an avoider”.
Avoiders don’t have a pattern of protest, despair, and detachment. They have never expressed disappointment over a lack of connection. Are you a detached vacillator? Then anger has probably diminished as you have given up on the relationship. I see a danger at this point for the vacillator’s anger to turn into a root of bitterness. While this bitterness may feel justified bitterness takes a toll on body, mind and spirit. In fact the bible says it damages not only you but others around you. Read Hebrews 12: 14-17.
We are excited to announce that the New Updated 2013 Love Style Audio Lectures are now available in both CD and audio download format.
Hear Milan and Kay discuss each Love Style in depth as well as how each style presents in relationships. Milan and Kay also go over growth goals and strategies for each love style to move toward being more securely connected.
For a limited time these CDs and downloads are available on howwelove.com for a reduced price. Don’t miss out!!
We thank you for your support and continue to pray for all of you on your journey toward healthy relationships.
Traits of the Secure Connector: Asking for Redo’s.
Well we have been in a long but important series on all the traits of the secure connector. These can serve as goals no matter what love style you are. Today we write on a very important topic that we hope will become common place in your home. Would you answer the following question with a “Yes”, or “No”?
I can ask for a “do-over” and try again when I blow it with my mate. (or kids)
We all have bad days when we are not at our best. We talk too harshly or dismiss too quickly. Maybe we are dishonest, avoid responding to a family member’s needs or make a selfish decision. Perhaps we realize we were insensitive, sarcastic or hurtful with our words. Some of us use body language that is destructive we roll our eyes in annoyance, sigh with impatience or glare in disgust. We all make mistakes but many times we don’t actively repair by owning our shortcoming and asking for a do-over. Here is a sentence you need to make a part of your family’s life.
I was insensitive when I minimized your pain (acknowledge the bad behavior that fits) and that must have make you feel discounted (make a guess as to what feeling your bad behavior caused) and I would like a do- over so I can really hear you. Is now a good time?
This statement is about your wrongdoing and the desire to correct the offensive behavior. It is not about blaming anyone else for your reaction and behavior. Let’s look at another example.
I raised my voice and had a harsh tone last night and that must have made you feel demeaned and I would like a do-over so I can respond in a more tender thoughtful way. Is now a good time?
Son, I was hard on you at the ball game yesterday. I bet you felt anxious. It’s hard to do your best when I’m constantly yelling directions. I would like to hear how you feel about my behavior. Next week I would like a do over and I will control myself and be more encouraging.
Sometimes we cannot redo something but we can still offer to listen to the feelings of the one we have offended.
I tried to be funny last night at dinner and my humor was at your expense and I bet that made you feel humiliated. I wish I would not have done that but I want to hear how it made you feel before I apologize. (Save your apology until after you have listened to the feelings.)
It’s always best if we ask for the do-over when our behavior or words are out of line. But it’s also OK to request a redo.
Your anger really shut me down last night. I care about our communication and I would really like a do-over. Is now a good time?
Each love style has its own propensity for offensive behavior. Be on the lookout for how your behavior, words and body language affect others and take ownership and ask for a do-over when you are wrong….even its minor in your from your perspective.
Avoider: Most like to hurt others by
• not responding
• fixing rather than listening
• ignoring opportunities for comfort
• minimizing another’s feelings
• putting too much value on tasks and performance
• not being grace filled with another’s mistakes.
Pleaser: Most likely to hurt others by
• not being honest
• minimizing problems
• overcommitting until your family is getting leftovers,
• not confronting when something is wrong
• being indecisive.
Vacillator: Most likely to hurt others by
• idealism (expectations too high)
• devaluing (making others all bad)
• harsh or mean words when angry
• Criticizing others when their ways or views are different.
Controller: Most likely to hurt others by
• harsh mean words
• insisting on one’s own way
• not deferring or others
• not listening to feelings
• views and opinions of others
• making excuses for own bad behavior.
Victim: Most likely to hurt others by
• Not protecting self or kids
• ignoring what is blatantly wrong
• making excuses for offenders
• taking the blame for things that are not their responsibility.
Thanks for listening,
Trait: I don’t have secrets I am keeping from my mate.
Some of the most relationally destructive stories I’ve heard as a marriage counselor have been when a husband or wife inadvertently discovers secrets that have been hidden by their spouse. Just to name a few…
• Secret bank accounts and credit cards.
• Another family in a distant town.
• A knock at the door and a person searching for their biological father or mother.
• A cross dressing husband.
• Prior felony and subsequent prison sentence.
• Massive debt due to an addictive gambling problem.
• Multiple prior marriages.
• Hetero and homo sexual affairs.
• Child molestation / incest.
I know I’ve shared this story before but it deserves repeating. One of the most tragic stories was from a caller to our New Life Live Radio show, a nationally syndicated counseling call in show (see www.newlife.com for local stations and times). The woman shared that her husband had died suddenly nine months ago and the family was still deeply grieving because he was a hero to everyone. As she began to clean out his office and go through computer files, she discovered vast amounts of pornography as well as names and numbers of prostitutes and call girls in various cities. E-mails were also found that detailed meeting dates and locations.
She went on to say that the family’s continual remembrances, loving memories and fun stories made her so angry. “I want to dig him up and kill him!” “Should I tell my family or suffer in this torment alone?”
For once, all of us were silent as the impact of her words sunk in (“dead air” in broadcasting is a no no). Finally the silence was broken and we said “Tell your family!”
This last Monday, we were talking about Valentine’s Day. Someone said “Don’t forget to buy your wife a card!” My response was, “How about an honest card that has something to do with reality? Perhaps “I know that our love has not been what we both have wanted, but I want it to be better. Let’s try to grow together this year!” Maybe the best and most healing gift would be to reveal a secret, ask forgiveness and begin to experience freedom.
Thanks for listening.
Trait: I have a relationship with God as well as close friends and don’t expect my spouse to meet every need.
As a couple’s counselor, one my tasks is to dispel the myths and fantasies about romance that have permeated the people’s thinking. When Josh & Karen came into my office, their marriage was in shambles and both were in a state of deep despair. Karen looked at me pleadingly and insisted “If he were my soul mate, then we would be ‘one’ as God intended and I would feel completely comfortable and fulfilled!” I empathized with her pain and reassured her that though her feelings were common, her dream was romance-novel-babble. (It is common to hear the words psycho-babble and religious-babble, so I decided to make up a new word… in the moment… much to her chagrin).
Her desire was even inaccurate theologically. No fallen human being can meet all of our needs because they are not omnipresent, omniscient nor omnipotent. Therefore no one will be present enough, knowledgeable enough or powerful enough to meet our every need. If we really want to be accurate biblically, a full transformation from our brokenness will not occur until we are in God’s presence and we are shed of our flesh which has been damaged and corrupted. As I said in our last blog, Kay and I have spent the last 25 years growing and re-parenting one another. Yet deeply tied to this journey was the fact that we each had to do deep individual work to lay aside idealized thinking and become realistic about life and love. This includes the fact that emotional and relational struggles will always be with us and that any spouse will be limited by time and energy to be able to come along side and cheer me on.
Having said that, a healthy marriage should always be growing and increasing in security, safety and bonding each and every year. But this takes a lot of work and hundreds of trips around “The Comfort Circle” (How We Love, Waterbrook Press 2006, Chapters 15-19) to maintain a steady pace of growth. Remember, for the person trying to honor God in their life, every aspect of life is swimming upstream, so if we stop working, we automatically drift backward.
Not long ago, I was eagerly looking forward to Kay coming home from work because I was agitated about something and wanted to process with her. When she walked through the door, not only was she tired from a full day of clients, but she was coming down with the flu and was headed to bed. I told her I really needed to talk and she said, “I can’t be there for you right now, could you call one of your good friends [not someone of the opposite sex] and ask them to help meet your needs?” After settling her in bed, I had some prayer time with the Lord, and then I called one of my friends and processed my frustration. After a while, I began to feel a sense of relief and peace.
Secure connectors have realistic expectations about themselves, others, relationships, life and God and have multiple sources for relief and comfort. Who’s on your team? Hopefully you are cultivating new and safe relationships that can love you and provide relief in addition to the comfort you experience with your spouse.
Thanks for listening,
Trait: I have compassion for my spouse in their areas of weakness because I understand their childhood wounds that contributed to those areas of struggle.
Last week we looked at Shirley and her difficulty with holding on to resentment and inability to forgive her spouse. I listed several things that Shirley needed to do to grow up and become more capable of releasing resentments and forgiving others. Another key area of growth that Shirley will need to be willing to daily remember her husband’s childhood wounds and that directly contribute to his areas of weakness.
I tell the story in our book How We Love (Waterbrook Press 2006) of how irritated I once used to be at my wife Kay. Fifteen years into our marriage, her weakness aggravated me to no end. The fact that she was an introvert, an avoider and a person who suffered from a chronic low grade depression made it very hard for me to connect with her. She always felt so evasive and distant. All my attempts to please her seemingly had no impact upon her ability to be more responsive to me. I’d reach my limit and then get angry at her and drift toward despondency and hopelessness. Meanwhile, my complaints and criticisms just compounded her tendency to pull away and become more depressed and self-loathing.
Then one day, everything changed. On a long drive on the freeway I begged God to help me see her in a different way… perhaps His way. I knew that my frustration and chronic dissatisfaction was only causing her to shrivel up and become more lifeless. Somewhere during the drive, I remembered some of the conversations I had with Kay about her childhood and I suddenly had a picture in my head that would forever change my view of Kay. I saw a little seven year old sitting in her childhood bedroom on her bed… alone and sad.
At that moment, all the dots connected and I realized that the lonely sad little girl was alive and well inside my adult wife’s body. For the first time in my life, I began to have compassion for her and see the childhood wounds that were still animating her adult behavior. I cried for her.
When I arrived home, I told her what had happened and that I wanted to get to know the little girl inside that I had never seen or acknowledged. I admitted that while the thought of all this scared me to pieces, we would take as much time as it took for both of use to see her and begin to love her more and more every day.
Twenty five years later, the little girl is more grown up and Milan’s little boy slowly morphed into a man. Today, we both feel grown up inside and reflect frequently upon the process of how we re-parented one another.
How about you? If you are growing toward a more secure connector, then you will be growing in your ability to have compassion for your spouse in their areas of weakness because you understand their childhood wounds that contribute to their areas of struggle.
Thanks for listening,
The Secure Connector: #19 in a series.
Trait: I don’t hold on to resentments and am able to forgive my spouse.
When Shirley came into my office with her husband, I asked her what was bothering her the most about their marriage. “He’s hurt me so many times… over and over.” “By now if he really loved me, he would just know what I need and how to love me.” When I asked her if she could ever forgive her husband and start over, she said “there is too much water under the bridge, I resent him so much, and I could never forget the hurt he has done to me.” With further inquiry about the hurts, Shirley was able to begin with an incident on her honeymoon and had I not stopped her after six or so stories, I think she could have gone on for hours.
Although she didn’t realize it, I began to surmise that the biggest problem in the marriage was Shirley’s definition of “hurt” and her inadequate self-awareness about her expectations of love. Along with that, came an inability to forgive her husband.
Over the many months to follow, Shirley slowly came to realize that she had a resistant attachment wound from early childhood, what we call The Vacillator in our book How We Love. At the simplest level, her exceedingly high and perfectionistic views of love left her husband chronically frustrated, and he would tell me every week, “nothing I do is good enough, fast enough, pure enough or thorough enough.” With Shirley’s insight and self-reflective skill almost absent, she didn’t realize that her idealistic views of love and life were sabotaging the very love she wanted. Because he failed so many times to measure up, she was resistant to attach to him and kept him hanging and dancing like a puppet at the hands of a scornful marionette.
Over time, as Shirley gradually moved toward becoming a secure connector, here were some of the things she began to mindfully incorporate into her life.
1. The world and all that is in it, is broken… including love and relationships.
2. Transitioning from unstated expectations to negotiated requests and accepting limited outcomes was to live a life based upon reality and not fantasy.
3. Accepting that she and her husband fell short every day with good and bad existing in each of them, she was better able to accept weakness and failure in her husband, children and ultimately… herself.
4. Asking for what she desired from her husband and then assessing compliance levels, allowed for realistic judgments about successes and failures.
5. Accepting criticism and differences of opinion without becoming offended and learning to bend to the will of others.
How about you? Have you held on to resentment and struggle to forgive your spouse? Take a few lessons from Shirley and begin studying the Vacillator section in the workbook (included at the end of How We Love) and ask God to give you a new perspective. Your unhappiness may be self-imposed and God has something much better in store for you in the future.
Thanks for Listening,
Milan & Kay
Here is a good rule when you are going to be around difficult relatives. Predict what will happen. You know them well. Talk with your spouse or kids (if they are old enough) about what you predict. Then have a sense of humor when it happens. Give someone in your family a thumbs up….”see, there it was…my prediction just came true. The goal? You know you are an adult around your family and relatives if when you leave you are not disappointed, angry, or hurt. After all what did you expect?
Learn to feel…black and white to color. Jesus came to earth because he feels love and desire. Ask Him to wake you up this holiday season to the importance of relationships. That’s what the coming of our savior was all about; winning our hearts and meeting our deepest need. It wasn’t about tasks as much as expressing love. Frozen, tundra heart of the avoider waits to be unthawed. It stings to unthaw a frost bit hand. Ask Jesus to melts the ice until you are free to live in the color of emotion and accept your needs as important and worth meeting.
Pleaser season giving giving, giving. Stop. Quiet. Look .listen. What can you receive? Ask for help. Sit with people and talk instead of cleaning or doing dishes. The holidays mean we are around relatives who might hurt us with insensitive words. Maybe someone in our own family won’t appreciate all the work and effort you have made. Jesus proved hurt and rejection aren’t deadly. Glorious birth, then rejection. Death before resurrection. No fear. Rejection can be transformed into resurrection.
No idyllic Christmas. Just real. Jesus birth was messy not ideal. Let the season be good and bad. It won’t be as good as you hope and something will go wrong. So when it does, don’t over react , go all bad and suffer. Let it roll off. Let good and bad live close together in the days ahead. Jesus came into our world a broken place and still He accepts us as broken. Learn to let yourself and those around you be imperfect and messy. It’s a part of life.
Holidays can be reminders of painful childhood times. Think about your feelings about Christmas. Are they overly idealized to make up for all you suffered as a child? Or do you just barely tolerate the holidays because of how miserable they were growing up? It’s time of a reality based redo. Try to make this Christmas something “little you” can enjoy. Remember your anger is a cover for tender feelings. Something will probably upset you so when it does, look for the vulnerable feeling when you feel angry.
Jesus tolerated the intolerable on the cross. He understands your pain. Find solace in His love. Find Jesus in the days ahead in His gift of creation. Look, see, hear, touch the wonder. You are His wonder too. He came to this earth for you because you are loveable, worthy and He rejoices when you become His child. He is a good parent and he desires you. Dwell on Romans 8.
We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to growing more with you in the New Year!
We have heard from many of you that you do not have Twitter or Facebook so we have decided to put the tips on the website as well. We will add to this post everyday to cover all of the Love Styles. We pray that you are enjoying this Holiday Season and taking time to love and connect with those around you.
Tip # 1: for the Avoider: Learn to feel…black and white to color. Jesus came to earth because he feels love and desire. Ask Him to wake you up.
Tip #2: for the Pleaser: Pleaser season givinggivinggiving. Stop, quiet, look and listen. What can you receive?
Tip #3: for the Vacillator: No idyllic Christmas. Just real. Jesus’ birth was messy not ideal. Let the season be good and bad.
Tip #4: for the Controller: Holidays can be reminders of painful childhood times. Redo. Make this christmas something “little you” can enjoy.
We are also on Focus on the Family today and tomorrow. You can listen to the streaming video at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio.
Check back tomorow for a Holiday tip for all the Controllers.
Blessings to you and all your family and loved ones!