This summer, we listened to the audio versions of 2 books about relationship attachment styles and found them to be very powerful and very helpful in enhancing the quality of our relationship. We highly recommend both books and strongly recommend reading "Wired for Love” by Stan Tatkin first and “Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson second. Bill describes them as Part I and Part 2 of the education.

I would also recommend hardcopy books over using the audio versions as we did. Being able to dog-ear and underline the books would have been more efficient for us than using the audio editions but the reality was, we wouldn’t have taken the books with us for our summer abroad. Compromise, compromise….

In his book "Wired for Love”, Stan Tatkin presents a clear, compelling argument for his 3 main attachment styles in relationships though others in the field identify 4 styles. I've included a crude list of the major aspects of each style that I made for our use. No one is 100% of a given style. 

The second book, "Hold Me Tight” by Sue Johnson, is slanted more aggressively towards a do-it-yourself guide to softening the sharp edges on your major attachment style and being respectful and supportive of your partner while moving closer to each other. We realized that its content would have been a muddle for us without understanding Tatkin’s overview of styles first. The 2 books make a potent pair and prompted many long discussions and deep introspection.

"WIRED FOR LOVE" by Stan Tatkin
A Sample of the Book’s Concepts
We pick partners that don’t satisfy our needs, needs that our early caregivers also didn’t meet. 

We all have fears and expectations that date back to earlier experiences of dependency (childhood) but weren’t a part of courtship. Those fears and expectations are activated as commitment to relationship increases. Partners then tend to shift towards anticipating the worst, not the best, from their relationship. This process may not be conscious, it may be wordless. 

In general, the male brain is wired to anticipate threat; the female brain to huddle.

Our attachment styles developed in our parent/child relationship and are formed by how our parents related to us & to the world. We can interrupt these old patterns by creating new neural pathways.

One’s commitment to the relationship needs to be primary and their commitment to meeting their own needs becomes secondary.

Mutuality & The Couple Bubble
..reduce conflict by understanding styles
..putting security-seeking parts of the brain at ease = 1 of goals
..keep each other safe, cherished, secure, cared for (by their standards)
..agreement to put relationship first, before everything and anyone else
..put partner’s wellbeing, distress relief, self-esteem first 
..“we come first" appreciation; tethered to each other
..eye contact
..physical proximity = early wiring
..adaptions as we develop
..importance of landings & launchings (welcomes & goodbyes)

Tatkin’s Relationship Styles (regarding sense of safety & security)
ANCHORS (the style we all are ideally migrating towards)
..securely attached as individuals and willing to commit and fully share with another 
..well developed right brain: read body sensations, faces, bodies, emotions, more empathy
..good impulse & frustration management
..resilient to social emotional distress
..playfulness, integration, flexibility, sensitivity, quickly soothed
..relief, comfort
..adapt easily to the needs of the moment 
..'we can do it together’ attitude prevails when both are anchors
.."I’m fine by myself but prefer the give & take of an intimate relationship."
.."I value good relationships and will do what it takes to keep them in good condition." 
.."I get along with a wide variety of people."
.."I love people and they tend to love me."
..”My close relationships aren’t fragile."
..”Lots of physical contact and affection is fine with me."
.."I’m equally relaxed when I’m with my partner and when I am alone."
..”Interruptions by my loved ones do not bother me."

ISLANDS  (many parallels with depression)
..insecurely avoidant
..underlying insecurity prevails so keep to oneself, avoids too much contact
..independent and self reliant
..low maintenance
..take good care of themselves
..productive and creative, especially when given space
.."I want you in my house, just not in my room, unless I ask you." (parallel play)
.."I can do it myself."
..”I learned as a child not to look to others for affection."
..very hard to shift out of alone time; intrusions can be jarring even if minor
..quickly becomes absorbed in own private world
..believes alone time is a choice and a preference vs as consequence of early relationships
..addicted to alone time and don’t recognize it
..don’t seek comfort of couple bubble, but avoid it, feelings of aloneness are obscured by dream-like state of alone time
..tend to experience more interpersonal stress than waves or anchors due to higher sense of threat in presence of partner and in social situations in general
..overly sensitive to perceived intrusions by a partner
..fear the need for distance may result in disaster 
..high tolerance for being apart because it is relief from interpersonal stress
..tend to look towards future, vs present or past (esp childhood) ‘that’s the past’
..idealize or demonize past, unable to call up specifics about past
..need to be met with understanding 
..need a partner to help them figure out what makes them tick
.."I know how to take care of myself better than anyone else could."
.."I’m a do-it-myself kind of person."
.."I thrive when I can spend time in my own private sanctuary."
..”If you upset me, I have to be by myself to calm down."
.."I often feel that my partner wants or needs something from me that I can’t give."
.."I’m most relaxed when nobody else is around."
.."I’m low maintenance and want that in a partner."
..”I want some things kept private, especially if it might jeopardize relationship with partner."
..private compartments for info interfere with mutuality
..elevating someone to primary attachment status makes that person dangerous
..can’t tether properly with go-to person; don’t believe in tethering “I am good by myself and others can be such a bother.”
..Affairs are viewed as an assertion of independence.
..Waves & islands have difficulty relating close up, may not pickup important cues from partner or not pick them up quickly enough or may not know how to fix mis-attuned moments; partner can make-up for difficulties, both don’t need to be competent managers
..prefer gazing inwardly or distantly due to lack of  physical contact as children or didn’t receive mixture of comfort and stimulation that comes from a parent gazing into an infant’s eyes, rather the contact that they did experience may have been overly intrusive or mis-attuned, causing aversion to what they consider as too close to a partner (touch, smell, taste), may feel both intruded upon and ashamed of aversive reactions may; attempt to hide it with excuses, withdrawal, or anger
..vulnerability, invasion
..emotionally neglected as a child, become islands as adaptation to neglect
..avoid close relationships to avoid stress

..insecurely ambivalent
..ambivalence about connecting
..generous & giving, focused on taking care of others
..happiest when around other people to see both sides of an issue
..”If only you loved me like I love you."  
.."I really feel misunderstood."
..they don’t provide any sense of steadiness or security
..they cause a perpetual disturbance, up & down, up & down
..rush in, rush back out, as if they can’t make up their mind where they belong
..cause disturbance in the relationship by becoming preoccupied with fear, anger and ambivalence about being close
..they can’t move fully forward because they are caught up with past injuries and injustices, ebb & flow of emotions, close vs stand-offishness
..expect a high drama life if your partner is a  wave
..want to connect & afraid of connecting; alternates between feeling wanted and rejected
..holds back from feeling good, hopeful, and comforted in anticipation of being rejected
..better to reject before being rejected, better to leave before being left
..comes in close for connection then pulls back anticipating disappointment
..moving in, then pulling back is the sign of a wave
..accentuated by an island’s withdraw a child, are victims of insensitivity; being left, ignored
..reacts with anger after they have been apart but is confused by it
..anticipate reunion but become angry when gets home, drowning but don’t know why
..tend to insult partner because worried about what their partner is feeling
..need to depend; anticipates being dropped or abandoned; creates feared reaction thru anger and negativity, pushes until it happens
..can’t move forward because of fears; bottomless insecurity
..need to check and recheck availability of partner 
..believes that time apart is a precursor to abandonment
..needs to be smothered to be reassured to shift from feeling threatened to feeling loved
..waves need to apologize instead of pushing away
.."I take better care of others than I do of myself."
.."I often feel as though I am giving and giving and not getting anything back."
.."I thrive on talking and interacting with others."
.."I have to talk to calm down."
..”My partner tends to be selfish and self centered."
.."I am most relaxed around friends."
..”Love relationships are ultimately disappointing and exhausting."
..”You can never really depend on anyone."
..can’t tether properly to go-to person ; tether in a childish way, want to be tethered but don’t expect it in return or unwilling to give it in return
..may use someone other than partner as confidant, that other person knows more than partner knows about the wave
..elevating someone to primary attachment status makes that person dangerous
..ambivalent about connecting, leaves options open with others to buffer any problems at home with other connections
..bully into submission in conflict
..difficulty with self reflection
..waves & islands have difficulty relating close up, may not pick up important cues from partner or not pick them up quickly enough or may not know how to fix mis-attuned moments, partner can make-up for difficulties, both don’t need to be competent managers
..don’t usually experience aversive reactions to near-senses, to closeness like islands, unless have a history of trauma; 
..crave physical proximity for long durations, can appear overly intrusive to partner, esp islands; tend to have experienced lots of physical contact in childhood; "come hither" in courting, which disappears later because over sensitized to rejection
..engaging, fun loving in courtship