Childhood negative experiences can create unhealthy coping methods that show up in adult relationships. Couples will come in for therapy and describe how their partner is controlling and won’t let them do anything. The other will say they are never pleased and always nagging. One will say the other is hurtful and won’t talk for days. Another complains their partner yells and screams and then cries. How a couple communicates is paramount to feeling safe and connected and when it isn't working, poor communication can hinder feelings of love.
One of the assessment tools I use to help people understand themselves and their partners is a short on-line questionnaire based on a book written by Milan and Kay Yerkovich, HOWWELOVE.COM/quiz
When I read the book years ago, I really enjoyed how the authors explained attachment theory. They explain that by the time a child is 6 years old they already have established a method for coping. It could be withdraw, fighting, or running away as a child that leads to similar methods of coping as an adult. The child could have fits of rage that show up in their adult life as angry outbursts and abuse of another. They may silently suffer as they are ignored and neglected, resulting in people-pleasing, and feeling neglected as an adult. Knowing how you learned to cope in your childhood will help you and your partner understand the way you interact today.
The quiz takes about 15 minutes to complete. It will give you five types of attachment styles: Controller, Vacillator, Pleaser, Avoider, and Victim. On a scare of 1-100 you'll see what your attachment style is most like and can read the ways you may show up in an argument, but also helps you understand what it is you need from the other person.
When I have the couple before me, their history, and their current situation, I can show them how their attachment style was created out of necessity, and how that communication style is hindering their current relationship. I can also show them how they can use those attachment methods to benefit the relationship through strength-based training that encourages the positives and minimizes the negatives.
Who you were does not define who you are, unless you let it.