How We Love: Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage by Milan and Kay Yerkovich applies attachment theory to the relational problems that married couples may experience. The authors move past the presenting problems and explore the root causes of those symptoms. When couples understand their love style they may gain insights to the causes of their relational difficulties.

The primary love style may be the feelings, thoughts or behaviors that are mostly automatic and usually arise in response to perceived relational danger. These are defenses that may have protected us from emotional pain as a child; however, they are now causing relational problems. They often keep us from being vulnerable or experiencing emotional intimacy in our marriages and families. Here are the love styles the authors describe:

Avoiders: Avoiders tend to minimize feelings and avoid relational intimacy. Most of the time this process started when they were young and as adults avoiders see themselves as independent.

Pleasers: These people take care to defend themselves against feelings of anxiety or inadequacy by placating those who may be angry, rejecting, or critical toward them.

Vacillators: Vacillators defend against the painful feelings by idealizing (it won’t happen) or devaluing (It happened, I’m hurt and I’m done).

Controllers: Controllers defend against the painful experiences of childhood (humiliation, neglect, abuse, violence, etc) by substituting anger for any vulnerable feeling and keeping their life under their control.

Victims: Victims defend against feeling afraid, unlovable, or unworthy by trying to appease, divert, or prevent anger from erupting from others.

The authors describe each style in detail and portray the relational problems that arise when different styles marry one another. This book also refers to resources that are available online:

The latter part of the book introduces the comfort cycle that gives the couple a strategy to work through their differences:

Seek Awareness of feelings and underlying needs (Psalm 139:24-25).
Engage with feelings and needs that are openly acknowledged (Ephesians 4:15, 25).
Explore the speaker’s thoughts and feelings (James 1:19)
Resolve needs verbally and with touch (2 Corinthians 1:4)

This book provides helpful principles and case studies that will enable couples to better understand why they do what they do. When we learn to cope with the painful feelings that we’re trying to avoid, then we can resolve the pain and find freedom. (I received this book for free from WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group for this review).

RickAssociate Pastor – Discipleship.  The Church at LifePark

Professor of Discipleship, Columbia International University

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