Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
In my newsletter for this month, I’ve summarised the introductory chapter of Stan Tatkin’s wonderful book “Wired for Love”. I make no apologies for the fact that I’ll be using Stan’s own words, because he explains so simply and clearly how understanding the ways in which our brains are hard-wired, wired for love, help us harness the potential of our intimate relationships for individual as well as social healing.
This book is written for individuals who want to be in a successful relationship, for couples who want to transform their relationships into safe and loving havens from the stresses of the world, as well as for couples therapists to educate them in how to help clients realise that making their relationship primary and their individual needs secondary fulfills their individual needs so much more effectively. I recommend you read this book. I really enjoyed training with Stan Tatkin in 2012.
Stan Tatkin’s words
“We live in a highly complex world. The array of devices, machinery, technology, and processes that make it tick is mindboggling. We may hate the thought of consulting a manual or calling for technical support, but can you really operate all these things successfully simply through intuition?
Relationships are difficult and complex too. But relationships don’t come with manuals that automate the process. What works for one couple won’t necessarily work for another. But neither does it work to fly blind, as many couples do, and expect relationships to fall into place. So I explain the need for well-informed guidance that supports your relationship.
And what is well-informed in this context? A large and fascinating body of scientific knowledge and theory with the potential to influence how partners relate to one another has been accruing in recent decades. This includes revolutionary work in the fields of neuroscience and neurobiology, psychophysiology, and psychology. I think you’ll find the basic theories quite straightforward when you hear them explained in lay language.
It’s my conviction that having a better understanding about how our brains function – in other words, how we’re wired – puts us in a better position to make well-informed choices in our relationships. From a biological standpoint, we humans have been wired largely for purposes that are more warlike than loving in nature. That’s the bad news.
But the good news is that recent research suggests a variety of strategies and techniques are available to reverse this predisposition. We can, in effect, take steps to assure we are primarily wired for love. These strategies can help us create stable, loving relationships in which we are poised to effectively defuse conflict when it arises.
I provide you with general principles, drawn from cutting-edge research, to help you understand what makes a relationship successful and how to work towards that with your partner. For example, if you have a clear sense of your own and your partner’s relationship style based on the latest research, it will be easier for the two of you to work together and fix any problems that may arise.
Here’s a quick attachment style questionnaire. And here’s a long article explaining the main relationship styles according to Stan Tatkin.
There is a level of mutual responsibility and detailed knowledge of the relationship a couple needs to be successful. In fact, I would propose to you that all couples do in fact follow a set of rules and principles in their relationship. They may not be conscious of it, but they already have an “owner’s manual” of sorts. Unfortunately, many couples have the wrong manual. And in the case of distressed couples, they always have it wrong.
In my work with couples, I’ve noticed that partners tend to form their own theories about the cause of their problems. These theories generally don’t work. They don’t stop the pain. They don’t alter our fundamental wiring. Ultimately, relying on such theories is one way of flying blind. In fact, at times, inaccurate theories further undermine a couple’s sense of security and happiness.
I’ve noticed partner’s theories almost always are pro-self, not pro-relationship. For instance, “We argue because he doesn’t like the same things I like”, or “She’s so inconsiderate, no wonder I feel hurt”. In each case, the focus is on the individual coming up with the theory. One of the most important discoveries a couple can make is that it is possible to shift into a pro-relationship stance. To make this shift, partners must be willing to throw out their old theories and consider new ones. They must be willing to rewire.
Ultimately, I came up with several key areas of research I believed could point towards the difference between success and failure in relationships. One of these areas is the field of neuroscience, the study of the human brain. Some parts of our brain predispose us to first and foremost seek security. This can wreak havoc in a relationship if we don’t learn to use the more evolved parts of the brain to override this wiring and exert control over the primitive parts.
A second area of research is attachment theory, which explains our biological need to attach or to bond with others. Our early experiences form an instructional blueprint that is stored in body memory and becomes part of our basic relational wiring – our sense of safety and security. Some individuals are fundamentally secure in their relationships, while others are insecure. Insecurity can lead us to remain distant from a partner or to harbor ambivalence about relating. It has insidious effects on a relationship if we don’t rewire the dysfunctional tendencies acquired early in life.
A third area of research I found fascinating and helpful was the biology of human arousal, our moment-to-moment ability to manage our energy, alertness, and readiness to engage. In the context of couples, research in this area suggests how we as partners can manage one another’s highs and lows. We don’t have to remain at the mercy of each other’s runaway moods and feelings. We can become expert at moving, shifting, motivating, influencing, soothing, and inspiring one another. Each of these areas of research informs this book. I have synthesized these ideas and integrated them into a way of working called a psychobiological approach. Everyone who is in or is planning to be in, or even hoping to be in, a relationship can benefit.
I’ll help you harness the power of your brain and your partner’s brain for love instead of war, in a scientifically supported way. In this book, I present ten key principles that show you how to avoid common pitfalls that undermine so many relationships.
Ten key principles for relationships:
- Creating a couple bubble allows partners to keep each other safe and secure.
- Partners can make love and avoid war when the security-seeking parts of the brain are put at ease.
- Partners relate to one another primarily as anchors (securely attached), islands (insecurely avoidant), or waves (insecurely ambivalent).
- Partners who are experts on one another know how to please and soothe each other.
- Partners with busy lives should create and use bedtime and morning rituals, as well as reunion rituals, to stay connected.
- Partners should serve as the primary go-to people for one another.
- Partners should prevent each other from being a third wheel when relating to outsiders.
- Partners who want to stay together must learn to fight well.
- Partners can rekindle their love at any time through eye contact.
- Partners can minimize each other’s stress and optimise each other’s health.
These principles are based on the latest science. You don’t have to grasp the technicalities of the science to understand these principles. I’ve done my best to make them fun and enjoyable. Each chapter includes exercises to help you apply the principle discussed therein. You can do most of the exercises on your own, or you and your partner can do them together. An important premise of this book is that happy couples share a high degree of closeness and togetherness. Share what is in this book with your partner. You will get even more out of it.”
For help in dealing with how you are wired for love, Call 0421 961 687 or email us to schedule an appointment. International callers should call +61 421 961 687.
You deserve the best trained relationship coaches if you’re planning to invest time and money in your relationship. If you’re not ready to book an appointment, call us on 0421 961 687 to book a FREE 15 minute phone consultation to discuss how we may be able to assist you.
Martin Cooney @GeekandJock says
The best thing is people are discovering there are definitive ways in creating a healthy and stable relationship, for themselves.
Yeah, Pam and I are lucky we have discovered our couple bubble – took some time though and once we discovered and shared our own personal values as well as goals and challenges, things magically got better and better.
Arguments are now viewed as simply ‘discoveries’ which is kinda cool.
Healthy and happy relationships for all, I say !!
Martin Cooney @GeekandJock says
Thanks for this information, Vivian.
I’ve never before thought that gaining a healthy relationship had anything to do with brain wiring so that in itself was an interesting take-away from your post.
For my own relationship with my wife, we started out pretty ‘rocky’ as far as a stable relationship is concerned. Both coming from previous divorces so we naturally had our own preconceived notions about men and women. Thankfully, I did my own internal work on myself and what I wanted our relationship to be and where it should go.
Having healthy and transparent conversations with Pam and sharing my thoughts as well as her’s with me, allowed us (jointly) to know each other as well as become ‘one’.
Thank you for all the relationship tips and advice – I’m going to use your term of ‘couple bubble’ too. Kind of a cool term that we need to make famous 🙂
Vivian Baruch says
Hi Martin, it’s now an established fact that everything we do is impacted by and in turn impacts our brain wiring. That’s what the discovery of neuroplasticity (the ability of the brain to change) has shown us. Good to read that your work with Pam has paid off & that you now have a “couple bubble”. Unfortunately it’s not my term, but Stan Tatkin’s, so he deserves the credit 🙂 It’s a lovely image though isn’t it?