Common Problems for Each of the Love Styles in Therapy

Common Problems for Each of the Love Styles in Therapy

Each of the love style responds in predictable ways to therapy. Here are some of the issues we see over and over. Therapists need to understand and be able to navigate these common issues.

Avoiders: Avoiders don’t see any problem with their past. They often have vague memories and say, “It was fine.” They may be annoyed when asked to identify feelings. When asked to explore emotions or try something uncomfortable, avoiders do better if given logical explanations as to the goals and methods for making progress and are reminded of the big picture routinely. Avoiders hate feeling inadequate (which they will feel a lot in therapy) and need reminders of what they missed as kids and how that is related to their current struggles.

Pleasers: Try to be the best client ever and have difficulty disagreeing with the therapist. Pleasers need to work on boundaries and speaking their mind, even with their therapist. As with everyone, pleasers want to make their therapist happy. They often keep an eye on their mate and monitor their reaction to anything they are saying to make sure they aren’t going to be in trouble with their spouse when the session is over. Speaking the truth and being honest even if it makes someone mad is an important step of growth.

Vacillators: Vacillators tend to idealize a therapist at first believing they are the answer to their problems. Their agenda is, “Fix my spouse, they are the problem.” Vacillators easily feel misunderstood and want to tell the therapist detailed stories to prove their point. This can take up the full hour. If the therapist doesn’t direct the session, the vacillator will! Vacillators feel deeply rejected and misunderstood when confronted by the therapist about their part in relational struggles. When challenged, vacillators quickly feel “all bad” and are filled with shame. This is a miserable feeling that makes them feel flawed and unwanted. They get rid of this feeling by getting angry and making others “all bad”. Accepting feedback and sticking with the process is important for the vacillator. Over time the vacillator often makes the therapist “all bad” when the counselor doesn’t see things the vacillator’s way. They tend to leave therapy in a huff and may try to find another therapist who will see only their point of view.

Controllers: Controllers often challenge the therapist authority feeling threatened by giving anyone else any kind of power. They may intimidate and test the therapist boundaries. I connect with controllers by helping them understand how the painful childhood experiences are at the root of the current anger they feel. Getting to the grief will be the most important challenge for the controller. Both men and women who are controllers are some of the most sensitive people under all that anger and intimidation. This trait just got obliterated in their childhood as it was not safe to be sensitive.

Victims: Victims are so use to living without hope they don’t often expect much from therapy. They need lots of encouragement that small changes can make a big difference. Of course, safety is the first concern. If the couple is a controller victim duo, the therapist should meet privately with the victim to check for physical or emotional abuse. The victim needs to learn to stand up to the controller, but may be in danger doing so. Safely is of foremost importance when working with a victim.

We will be in Pittsburgh this weekend! Hope to see some of you there!

Blessings,
Kay

“It’s OK to not be OK.” – #3

“It’s OK to not be OK.”

As we continue in our journey of learning to be OK when others are not OK, let’s take a closer look at Sandy. Specifically, why she became so reactive and what she and
Bill can do differently next time so there is less relational damage.

While Sandy may have never connected the dots in her own mind, the reactivity she exhibited at Bill’s withdrawal had been a reactive pattern in her life for a long time. It is likely that this panicky response is all she’s never known… so to her it’s normal. Remember the book title from some time ago; “Normal” is a setting on your dryer!” Her reaction, while common, is not within an acceptable range that promotes healthy relationships.

Simply stated, Sandy became triggered as Bill “separated” from her. Separation sensitivity is common to Pleasers and Vacillators who are proximity seekers. With abandonment or intermittent connection in their early childhoods, they long for adult relationships to be consistently, close and predictable. Here they feel safe. If a primary attachment figure like Bill drifts away, averts their gaze or fails to give the proper attention, old fears rush to the surface and their brains become flooded with a hail storm of unpleasant emotions. When this happens, the left brain shuts down resulting in a loss of logic, lucidity and language. At this moment a frightened little child is driving the bus and a collision is inevitable.

With the right education, Sandy can begin to learn more about herself and her negative reactivity patterns which repeat themselves over and over again. When triggered, Sandy needs to become aware of what is happening within her mind, tell herself, and Bill, she is getting triggered by his withdrawal and ask him for help to regulate the impending stampede. If she is unsuccessful and displays anger (which is common when we are learning something new) Bill should say, “You look agitated and alarmed! Something must have triggered you. What do you think happened?”

When couples learn their triggers and how to manage them more healthfully, any couple can learn to be less reactive thus making it possible to be OK when others are not OK.

More next week.
Thanks for listening,
Milan

Holiday Tips

Here is a great reminder from a blog Kay wrote last year on how to handle the Holidays!

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?

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 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: 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.

Vacillator: 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.

Controller: 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.

Victim: 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.

Milan and Kay have welcomed two new grandchildren into the family in the past couple of weeks. Busy times full of love and gratitude!

We would love to have you join us in January for a local How We Love our Kids event at Grace Fellowship church. Please click on the events tab to find the event and see all of the details.

We have just introduced a new Secure Connector CD and audio download. Last year, Milan and Kay wrote a whole blog series on all of the traits of the Secure Connector and we received great feedback. They have recorded many of the thoughts and tips from that series on this new CD. All of the Love Style Lectures are on sale this month! This includes all of the individual Love Style CDs and downloads! Great stocking stuffers!!

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and look forward to growing more with you in the New Year!

Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.
The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser
For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns. – See more at: http://www.howwelove.com

Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern

Vacillators are sensitive and easily triggered by any hint of rejection or abandonment. Each can feel easily overlooked, misunderstood or unloved. Over time, the passionate connection and intense good feelings of the early relationship are disturbed by anger, hurt and disappointment as “real life” sets in. Since Vacillators can swing between “all good” and “all bad” their relationship is often stormy and extremely good or bad on any given day.
Jealousy is often a problem for this couple as both are easily threatened by potential loss. Either mate can vent and listening is rare. Anger is matched with anger and fighting can be intense and ugly. The children suffer during such interchanges and are rarely asked how the fighting made them feel. Neither likes to apologize, or give in, so stubborn standoffs can last a long time with fighting replaced by stony silence. Both have difficulty understanding their contribution to the problems. Rather, they blame the other for making them feel “bad” and “unhappy.” With no ownership problems continue.
The Vacillator goes through a pattern of protest, despair and detachment over and over when their idealized hopes and dreams don’t materialize. Over time, they may give up, detach and appear to be a disconnected Avoider when, in fact, they are a Vacillator who has given up hope.

Blessings!

Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.
The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser
For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns. – See more at: www.howwelove.com

Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern

As the imprints collide, the Pleaser cannot keep up with the idealized expectation of the Vacillator. As they make mistakes, and feel irritability from the Vacillator, their anxiety returns and they become concerned with avoiding conflict. Initially, they try harder to make it work, wanting to again feel the Vacillator’s pleasure and praise. Vacillators confront and Pleasers attempt to avoid confrontation which sets up a chase scene.

The Vacillator becomes disillusioned when the initial passion begins to wane. They want their spouse to understand and want them, not just please them. The Pleaser’s anxious scurrying around makes them feel placated, rather than known and valued. This isn’t what they expected and over time the Pleaser’s efforts become annoying. The Vacillator becomes more agitated and upset, and they don’t realize Pleasers don’t know how to connect in a reciprocal way because they don’t know how to receive. Since Pleasers did not learn to have soul words growing up, and no one was asking about their heart, they cannot relate on this level.

The Pleaser tries to fix any negative emotions by doing nice things, so their spouse is happy. Moving towards the difficult feelings of others (or their own), makes them anxious because they don’t know what to do. Since the Vacillator doesn’t understand these deeper dynamics, they feel more and more unloved, and more and more disillusioned and angry.

The Pleaser keeps trying. After all, they have been pleasing for their whole life. Over time, resentment begins to build but Pleasers rarely express anger openly so it may be expressed in passive ways. They feel they are walking on eggshells and while their efforts may make the Vacillator happy for a while, it won’t be peaceful for long. If the pattern continues long enough, the Pleaser’s resentment may build to the point that they give up trying or leave their spouse. If the couple remains in this pattern for years, their marriage is often filled with bitterness and resentment.

Blessings!

Vacillator-Controller Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.

The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser

For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns.
– See more at: www.howwelove.com

Vacillator-Controller Core Pattern

Both the Vacillator and the Controller mistake intensity for intimacy. Often, that was their experience growing up. Fighting or intense arguing is a connection of sorts, in that two people are engaged, but what is lacking is the ability to regulate emotions and reach a resolution where both people feel heard, understood and valued. In many homes there is intense fighting without resolution. Everyone just moves on even though no one was truly heard nor was the problem resolved.

It may appear these two like to fight when in fact it’s just the only way they have experienced connection. Both like to be right, both move quickly to anger and both are stubborn and determined. The making up after a fight may be just as intense and sexual encounters are often used to “make peace”. Both spouses likely have come from homes where arguing and fighting were a part of normal everyday life, so neither sees the destructiveness of the Core Pattern, especially for the kids. This is one of the most volatile combinations and the kids suffer as a result.

The Vacillators’ tension builds up when they feel hurt, abandoned or misunderstood. The Controllers’ tension builds up whenever their control is threatened. It’s easy to see how a spark can quickly start a fire.

Blessings!

Controller-Victim Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change. The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser
For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns. – See more at: www.howwelove.com

Controller-Victim Core Pattern

The Controller never feels completely in charge as the smallest things threaten their sense of power. To lose control would mean feeling vulnerable and weak as they did as a child. The goal of control is to keep vulnerable childhood feelings from ever surfacing. Over time, insecurities about losing control increase. To lower anxiety, the Controller exerts more power.

The Controller believes to get their needs met, they will have to violate, exploit and manipulate others taking what they want or have nothing. Any feelings of weakness or vulnerability are loaded with humiliation and shame and quickly submerged under anger.

The Victim submits to the Controller believing they will otherwise be left alone with no one to meet their needs. Accustomed to high anxiety, they accept mistreatment not fully recognizing the seriousness of the abuse. As kids, Victims learned to tolerate the intolerable. In adulthood, unbearable relational pain seems normal.

In the cycle of abuse the tension builds, the Controller rages, and then goes through a period of regret, apologizing and promising not to lose control again while minimizing the recent outburst. For a short period of time the Victim may have the power until they give in and decide to believe the Controller once again. Tension builds and the cycle repeats again and again. At times the Victim may take their anger out on the children when the Controller is not home. Drugs and alcohol are often used to sooth pain and anxiety adding to the chaos and unpredictability.

Blessings!

Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern

We are thrilled to announce that all of the new Attachment Core Pattern Therapy packages are now available. Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Milan and Kay have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of them. Additionally, each CD includes an extensive PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as a written description and interventions for change.

The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator-Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider-Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Pleaser-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller-Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator-Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider-Avoider and Pleaser-Pleaser

For the next few weeks, we will be giving you a brief description and overview of each of these Core Patterns.

Vacillator-Avoider Core PatternAs the love styles collide, the Avoider feels constantly in “trouble” for disappointing their spouse. The passionate connection and the intense good feelings of the early relationship are replaced with the Vacillator’s passionate anger, hurt and disappointment as “real life” sets in. As the Vacillator devalues the relationship, the Avoider retreats and reverts to the independent lifestyle they adopted in their childhood home.
The Vacillator feels devastated when the “passionate connection” is lost. They feel angry, betrayed, and abandoned as they discover the Avoider’s lack of ability to connect. They do not understand that because the Avoider never experienced close emotional connections growing up, they cannot understand or value what the Vacillator wants. Initially, Vacillators are willing to work hard to get the Avoider to respond and engage. Over time, however, they become increasingly angry when the Avoider is incapable of providing the consistent, passionate connection they desire. Unlike the Pleaser, they voice their anger, further driving the Avoider into a mode of retreat.
The Vacillator goes through a pattern of protest, despair and detachment over and over when their idealized hopes and dreams don’t materialize. Over time they may give up and detach and appear to be a detached Avoider when in fact they are a Vacillator who has given up hope.

We hope you enjoy these and find hope that change is possible with God’s grace and hard work!

Blessings!

Attachment Core Pattern Therapy™ CDs

Hello every one! Perhaps you’ve been wondering why there has been less blog activity over the last few months? It’s because we’ve been writing and recording new material since last winter which I am excited to introduce to you today!

When two differing attachment styles come together in a romantic relationship, things can be wonderful at first. But eventually when our emotions settle back down to reality, a destructive Core Pattern of emotional reactivity begins to develop which inhibits communication and bonding. In our book: How We Love (WaterBrook 2006), we title this section “Duets That Damage!”

Recently we trademarked “Attachment Core Pattern Therapy” ™ and have written new material which greatly expands the “Duets” section from the book. Kay and I have produced sixty minute CDs explaining each of the Core Patterns and interventions for how to get out of it. Additionally, each CD includes a PDF file with a diagram of the Core Pattern as well as an extensive written description and interventions for change.

The new series includes:
• Attachment Core Pattern Therapy ™ Overview
• The Vacillator Avoider Core Pattern
• The Avoider Pleaser Core Pattern
• The Pleaser Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller Vacillator Core Pattern
• The Controller Victim Core Pattern
• The Vacillator Vacillator Core Pattern
• Less Common Patterns: Avoider Avoider and Pleaser Pleaser

Over the next few weeks you will be exposed to a description of each of the new products as well as their release date on our web site www.howwelove.com.

Love and thanks for your continued interest and support.

Milan

Differences between the Vacillator and Controller

Differences between the Vacillator and Controller:

There are similarities between the vacillator and controller. Of all the styles these two are the quickest to anger. It is easy to judge the anger and conclude these are the “worst” styles. Let’s remember avoiders, pleasers and victims tend to be dishonest and minimize the truth to avoid conflict. Lying isn’t one of Gods’ favorite character traits either. Each broken love style has different ways of defending against pain and each has different sinful tendencies.
Vacillators and controllers tend to be angry about different things. Vacillators are angry because they are disappointed and wished for something they didn’t get. Vacillators want connection and desire to be seen, heard and tended too without asking directly for what they want. Controllers are not driven toward connection as much as vacillators. Controllers get angry because someone has threatened their authority and made them feel powerless. Most often the need for control comes from a very painful childhood experience where feelings of humiliation, terror, despair, hopelessness, confusion were common. It’s impossible for a child to make logical sense of the daily interactions in a chaotic family. Bad things happen with no rhyme, reason, explanation or resolution. There is no relief for painful feelings.
Control is about keeping these painful memories from being re-experienced in adulthood. If a controller is in charge and keeps everyone in line, painful feelings can stay submerged. Powerlessness is a huge trigger and reminder of childhood and to be avoided at all cost.
We can see how the vacillator and controller display anger for different reasons. Depending on the degree of the injury both the vacillator’s and controller’s anger can be intense, scary, and overwhelming to others. Anger without ownership, resolution or apologies is destructive to all relationships. A read through the book of Proverbs is a wakeup call as to the destructiveness of unchecked anger. For both styles expressing the feelings under the anger is important. Usually anxiety, insecurity or hurt are the primary emotions that end up getting expressed as anger. Growth comes from seeing anger as a red flag to stop, get the list of soul words and identify underlying emotions.
Both vacillators and controllers have difficulty with vulnerable feelings. Vacillators want you to just “get them” and “know” what they want and need. Asking directly for what they want and need feels too vulnerable for a vacillator and they resist this step of growth. Controllers just want you to obey and agree and equate vulnerability with the powerlessness of childhood and resist any neediness except sex. Controllers are more cut off from the pain of childhood while vacillators are much more aware and willing to talk about painful experiences during their childhood years.
Vacillators easily feel abandoned while controllers easily feel threatened. Vacillators are triggered by unmet expectations whereas controllers are triggered by loss of control and the feeling of powerlessness. Neither of these styles likes anyone to disagree with them. Vacillators feel if others really understood them they would agree with all their thoughts and opinions so they feel misunderstood, rejected and abandoned when others disagree. Controllers see disagreement as a threat to their power and get angry to intimidate others into compliance.
Blessings,
Kay