Holding Time – Part 3

Holding Time for Vacillators

Since a vacillator longs for connection you might think they would be excited about holding time. Since Vacillators want connection without being vulnerable it can feel like a risky proposition. What if I like it and my spouse never offers again? What if I feel too exposed? Asking directly for what they want or need is very difficult for the Vacillator. Some Vacillators may be too mad at their spouse to offer or accept a holding time.

We find Vacillators often express anger and are unaware of the anxiety and more vulnerable feelings under the anger. Vacillators must learn to find soul words on the feelings words list and ask for a holding time before the anger erupts. Often the anxiety is about something the Vacillator is ruminating on so be aware of preoccupied states and ask for help with the anxiety. This is a key to the Vacillator’s growth.

Vacillators like to feel needed and if they are not angry at their spouse they can hold their spouse quite comfortably. The Vacillator’s tendency to be in an “all good” or “all bad” mood or state of mind can make the Vacillator unpredictable in their willingness to give to their spouse. Vacillators can find more middle ground if they are willing to give or receive a holding time, when they aren’t “in the mood”.

Holding time for Controllers and Victims

Chaotic attachment and childhood trauma go hand in hand. This group usually had lots of difficult experiences and little to no comfort when they were kids. Tenderness can bring buried pain to the surface so these folks may unconsciously avoid comfort. Gentle, empathetic touch and kindness may make the Controller or Victim very uncomfortable. Their tears are deeply buried and holding time can bring them to the surface. It’s difficult to look back at painful memories but buried trauma is carried in the body and it takes a lot of effort to hold inside. Grief and comfort help heal these painful memories and free the body to be fully alive and relaxed in the present moment.

For women or men who were trapped as kids or sexually abused, holding can sometimes be a trigger. It’s important to discuss any negative feelings that arise during a holding time as these reactions can be reminders of childhood trauma.

It takes a level of safety to engage in holding and if there is physical or emotional abuse in the current relationship, it isn’t safe. Holding is a vulnerable giving of oneself into the arms of another. In some cases the regulation of emotions and the ability to have a calm conversation needs to be the first goal.

In the next few weeks we will give you some specific ideas for holding times. Write to us and let us know if you try these exercises. We would love your feedback.

Special Announcement
We are pleased to announce that the audio version of the How We Love book is now available at christianaudio.com!

Holding Times – Part 2

Why Holding is Difficult for Avoiders and Pleasers?

Avoiders find holding time awkward as they most often grew up with parents who showed minimal to no affection and offered little comfort. If coached, they may be willing to try and hold their spouse, but certainly would not ask for a holding in return. One avoider husband I know held his wife as she shared some painful memories. She cried a lot and all those emotions were a bit overwhelming for him, but he is trying to grow and he did a good job. When she later asked to hold him he said, “I don’t dwell on pain, I just move on.” Now being an avoider myself, I understand this thinking. We worked hard to not feel pain, so why dig it up? There are three compelling reasons.

First, if we are going to be transformed into the image of Christ, we need to be able to feel. (See last week’s blog).
Second, holding gives an opportunity to receive what was missed as a kid. Nurture. Comfort. Being heard. Being known. Avoiders have no idea that nurturing can relieve stress. They have to experience comfort in order to value it. Third, avoiders end up resentful because they are always being asked to give something, but need little to nothing in return. I cannot tell you how often I hear from the spouses of avoiders, “He or she does not need me.” Avoiders need to learn to receive. There is no better way than to allow your spouse to hold you.

Holding Time for Pleasers:

Pleasers are givers not receivers. Of all the types, they have to give to soothe their own anxiety about others being unhappy or distressed. They are hyper attuned to the needs of others; a skill they learned in childhood. By the time marriage occurs, they have had years of practice in the giving, caretaking role. As a result, they never ask for much and are absolutely terrible receivers. They are so unaware of their own feelings and needs that it does not occur to them to ask for comfort when they are stressed.

Now most of you know that Milan is a pleaser and I am an avoider. So, how easy do you think it was for us to learn to do holding times? The answer should be obvious. It was difficult.
Neither of us wanted to be vulnerable, but we knew it was an important skill we were missing in our marriage and parenting.
So, we kept at it. Over time it got easier, safer and we felt more competent.

What did we do when strong emotions of grief emerged during a holding? We agreed that holding time was not a time to fix or problem solve. The goal was to learn to be together, listen, validate and comfort. If your spouse feels an emotion, say what you see. “I see this makes you tearful and sad.” “I see your eyes welling up with tears.” Give permission: “I’m glad you are sharing those feelings with me.” “This is a safe place for you to feel.” “It makes me feel needed and special when you are vulnerable with me.”

I wish we could describe the results and the blessings of giving one another comfort. It has been more than worth every awkward moment. As we get older, we find life brings more loss. We have a safe place to feel the sadness and process the grief. We have healed many of our childhood wounds as we have comforted one another through painful memories.

Next week we will look at Vacillators and Chaotic love styles and holding time. So, how’s it going for you? Have you tried it? Let us know how it goes. You have to make yourself uncomfortable in order to grow.

Blessings!

Holding Times – Part 1

Holding Times

WEEK 1
This month we are talking about holding time. This is by far one of the most important skills we ever learned in our marriage. We always demonstrate a holding time in our workshops and the responses range from excitement to downright terror. We have had some interesting responses from our readers on this subject. Some describe that holding time is hard for men, especially when they are the receivers. Some men learned as children that it is weak to show emotions or ask for help. In addition, a lot of women give their man a double message. We want our husbands (or the men we are dating) to be close, vulnerable and willing to share their inner self. At the same time, we also want our men to be strong leaders, providers and care takers…… in other words, “don’t be weak.”

Let’s think about Jesus for a moment. He is strong and vulnerable. Jesus healed, provided, shared his thoughts and feelings and was definitely a leader. Even though he knew before hand that it was His purpose to come into the world and die for us on the cross, he struggled emotionally when the time came. In the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked for his three closest disciples to watch and pray with him. He told his friends he was distressed and in agony. He lay prostrate with his face to the ground and he wept with loud crying and tears. We know his friends fell asleep but even so, the God of the universe showed his inner turmoil and asked for help.

Men need encouragement to be like Jesus and ask for support. Women, tell your man that he can be both strong and weak. When you can see he is stressed, ask to nurture him. Ask him to lay his head in your lap and touch him tenderly and pray for him. If he is comfortable sharing verbally ask him about his top three stressors and how those situations make him feel. If he’s reluctant, just try to create some moments of safety, encouragement and comfort.

Next week we will talk about each of the love styles and why holding is difficult for each style.

Until then…. God Bless and keep growing.

How We Love Sex…or Don’t – The Secure Connector

How We Love Sex…or Don’t

Here is Where You are Headed… THE SECURE CONNECTOR:

These individuals endorse romantic, affectionate sexual behaviors and are more likely to engage their partner to deepen their bond by pleasuring one another. Secure individuals are more likely to seek and value intimacy and have sex for these reasons. Since secure individuals have a healthy balance between intimacy and autonomy needs, those who are secure are less likely to have sex to please or appease. Confidence makes them less likely to have sex to affirm their self-worth or to cope with negative emotions. Over all, secure individuals are less likely to have sex for unhealthy reasons.

Touch:
Mothers and fathers who give their child affectionate touch that is tender, soothing, careful and sometimes playful help promote a secure love style. Secure individuals have memories of comfort and readily seek relief within their relationship with their spouse. They have been helped to pay attention to feelings, which is associated with the use of touch to convey affection. Said another way, “Individuals open to feelings are more apt to use touch as a means to establish proximity and emotional closeness.” In contrast, “individuals who are unsure of what emotions they are experiencing are more likely to report a host of negative reactions to touching.” (Attachment Theory and Close Relationships, Simpson and Rholes Editors. Brennan, Wu, Love: p. 411)

Awareness of Self and Others:

• Self-Awareness: Secure individuals have learned to self-reflect and know what they feel and what they need and desire. This fosters good communication when it comes to the sexual relationship. They can ask for what they want, are open to explore and find joy in playfulness.

• Other-Awareness: Respect, self-control and the ability to delay gratification help the secure individual be open to and interested in their spouse’s feelings and needs. Reciprocity helps the sexual relationship flourish, as both are comfortable in the roles of giver and receiver.

Motivation to have Sex:
• To Enhance Romance and Emotional Connection: More often than not, secure individuals are motivated to have sex to promote intimacy and bond with their spouse. This goal is associated with positive feelings about sex.

• Playfulness and Pleasure: Secure connectors have sex to bring pleasure to one another and enjoy being playful with one another.

Dealing with negative emotions and resolving conflict:
Conflict resolution is a skill learned in childhood and is carried into the adult relationship. Sexual differences and problems can be more easily tolerated without “taking it personally” and negotiation skills help resolve differences.

We hope you enjoyed this excerpt from our new How We Love Sex…or Don’t series. The seminar explores the differences in all of the Love Styles and helps to promote God’s design for sex. Please visit Howwelove.com for more information or to order the new series.

Blessings!!

How We Love Workshop

How We Love Workshop
November 14th and 15th 2014
Sponsored by Relationship 180 and Mission Hills Church

Join Authors, Milan and Kay Yerkovich, of the book How We Love, for a unique and proven approach to healthy relationships.

Where: Mission Hills Church
24162 Alicia Parkway
Mission Viejo, CA 92691

When: November 14th & 15th, 2014
Friday evening 7:00 to 9:00 PM
Saturday 8:00 to 12 Noon

Cost: $59 per person; $118 per couple
(Scholarships Available)
Register: Go to our website www.relationship180.com to register and pay on line.

Are you tired of arguing with your spouse over the same old issues?
Do you dream of a marriage with less conflict and more intimacy?
Are you struggling under a load of resentment?
Let us help you.
We have been helping people just like you for over 25 years
Please email or call Liz Lusk with questions at liz@relationship180.com or 949-830-2846
Relationship180 is a 501c 3 charitable organization. We depend upon tax-deductible donations.

We would love to have your join us!

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

What has two boxes of ice cream to do with How We Love?

Hi,

We received this fun note on the website from a group who just finished watching the How We Love DVD series. We thought we would share it with you all!

What has two boxes of ice cream to do with How We Love? You may ask

Our life group has just finished watching the How We Love DVD sessions. It was an awesome 6 weeks of discussion, surprising discovery of ourselves, honest and open sharing of our past and struggle, with vulnerability. The series not only revealed areas we need to address, but also brought the group closer together.

This past meeting I brought two boxes of ice cream to the meeting. A box of drumsticks and a box of ice cream bars. I noticed how everyone took his/her time to choose between the two flavors and commented that we could see their personality by the ice cream they chose. “John”, without losing a beat, chimed in that we could figure out their Love Style by the ice cream they picked. “Sally”, while eating hers, asked what happened if she wanted both. As if on cue, ‘vacillator’, everyone shouted. The funny thing was, “Sally” was a vacillator. And when “Julie” asked what happened if she didn’t want any. “Avoider”, all jumped in.

We had a great laugh. I never thought that the series has this much impact on each one of us. On a personal note, I have benefited so much from reading the book and watching the DVD series. The concept has revolutionalized the way I look at myself and help me to mend many relationships. I tried to share this with as many people as I can, as I have felt the life-changing power. Thank you for all you’ve done and may God continue to bless many through your ministry.

Blessings to you all!!

Psychological or Biblical?

Psychological or Biblical?

Milan and I encounter this question many times as we teach and speak around the country. Is psychology unbiblical? How can psychology be helpful if it is humanistic and man centered? Just in case you readers are wondering how we integrate all this into our beliefs as Christians ….a note of explanation.

Psychology by definition refers to the study of the human mind and mental states by observations, categorizing and labeling characteristics of human behavior.

Psychology is man’s observation of human behavior and the categorization of these observations into names of illnesses or disorders by lists of symptoms. Medical journals observe and categorize illness in the same way. If you have a certain list of symptoms the Doctor says, “You have a cold or virus.” If your medical symptoms match another list, perhaps you have gall bladder problems. Are medical journals “biblical”? No. Are psychological journals “biblical”? No. Do they contain wisdom to label and diagnoses problems? Yes. Do they give the ultimate solutions on how those problems originated or are solved? (Sin and Salvation) No. Can they be helpful to identify diagnosis and help a person identify exactly where they need to grow? Yes.

Yes, No, Yes, No….did you follow that? Think of it this way. If we look at the world from a Biblical perspective, we know the world is broken because of sin. You are broken. I am broken. All of creation is broken. Roman 8:20-22 says, “For the creation was subjected to futility , not of it’s own will, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption to the freedom of the glory of the children of God. All creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth until now.”

Christ is the solution. “The wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life.” Christ’s work on the cross rescues us from sin and brokenness. As we accept the sacrifice of the cross on our behalf as payment for our sin, we are adopted into God’s family and given the Holy Sprit. God then calls us to grow into the likeness of Christ. After salvation, God sees us perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. Of course our mate has a hard time seeing us seated at the right hand of the Father in the heavenly places (Eph 2:6). They see us as imperfect and incomplete and lacking in many ways. This is because we are not yet transformed practically into being Christ-like.

How does God show me where I’m not like Him? How does God show me what parts of my being still resemble brokenness rather than holiness? The Bible is certainly the primary source. The more I know God and His character the more I will see the goal; what I am becoming in the process of sanctification. Milan and I see psychology as a secondary source of identifying brokenness.

Milan and I were married for 15 years and very serious about our commitment to Christ and open and willing to grow. We did some changing during those years. We learned a lot about our faith. But we were still very stuck in some tenacious marriage dynamics that were hurtful and no amount of prayer or bible study had changed them. You might say we were still blind as to some areas of brokenness.

God used my studies in attachment theory (psychology) to pinpoint some injuries (sin done to us) and resulting behaviors (our own sin) that were blocking growth in our marriage. I believe it was an answer to our prayers for wisdom that I read these studies. As I read the characteristics of an Avoider and how this imprint occurs I clearly saw my own experience in my family of origin. As I read the adult characteristics of the Avoider, I clearly saw how that brokenness affected my parenting and marriage.

I began to confess. I don’t really know how to bond. I am afraid of my feelings, especially painful feelings. I am too independent. I don’t really know how to need God or others on any deep or vulnerable level. I could go on and on. These confessions turned to prayers. God, help me learn to feel. Help me learn to risk being vulnerable. Help me learn to show my pain to you and others. Help me learn to receive comfort.

There was a giant leap in my growth. God was the source in leading me. God was the source in giving me the Holy Spirit as a guide. God was the source in helping me identify and make these healing changes. He just used a sprinkling of psychology along the way to help my confession and prayers go from vague (help me be the wife and mother you want me to be) to more specific requests I just mentioned above.

Next week, I’m going to talk about one more benefit of psychology and medicine in terms of spiritual growth.

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!