Whether you are contemplating divorce, in the middle of a divorce, or have gone through a divorce, at some point you may do some soul searching to try and figure out why your marriage ended in divorce. Divorce is rarely the result of a single event or issue. Instead, most marriages end because of a complex web of issues and events that unfold over the life of the marriage. According to experts, one factor may be your attachment style or that of your spouse. A Murfreesboro divorce attorney at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby explains how your attachment style may make divorce more likely.
What Is an “Attachment Style?”
Attachment theory was first developed in the 1950s by psychologist Mary Ainsworth and psychiatrist John Bowlby. The theory holds that your attachment style is shaped and developed in early childhood in response to your relationships with your earliest caregivers. Those relationships then directly influence what is known as your “attachment style” as an adult.
Your attachment style defines how you respond emotionally to others, how you interact with a partner and other aspects of your behavior within a relationship. There are four adult attachment styles:
- Secure attachment. If you have a secure attachment style, you can trust others and be trusted, love and accept love, and become close to others with relative ease. You are not afraid of intimacy, nor do you feel panicked when your partner needs time or space away from you. You can depend on someone without becoming totally dependent on that person. Not surprisingly, secure attachment style is considered the ideal style for forming a long-lasting, healthy relationship. One research study found that just over half of all adults have a secure attachment style.
- Anxious attachment. If you have an anxious attachment style, you have a deep fear of abandonment and insecurity about your relationships. You often worry that your partner will leave you, causing you to constantly seek validation. This attachment style can make you needy or clingy. You may even be preoccupied with love and the need to find/keep a partner. At its worst, it can cause you to become overly paranoid that your partner does not care about you without objective cause to feel that way. About 19 percent of adults have an anxious attachment style.
- Avoidant attachment. While avoidant attachment style is also an insecure attachment style, it is marked by behavior at the other end of the spectrum from anxious attachment style. You fear getting emotionally close to people and have trouble trusting a partner because you do not believe that anyone will meet your needs. You can be emotionally unavailable and become distant when there is an issue in a relationship. Intimacy is often equated with the loss of independence. At its worst, avoidant attachment style will cause you to completely avoid relationships, preferring to rely on yourself than take a chance with someone else. Roughly 25 percent of adults have an avoidance attachment style.
- Fearful-avoidant, or disorganized, attachment. Fearful-avoidant attachment style is a combination of both the anxious and avoidant attachment styles. You desperately crave affection while simultaneously wanting to avoid it. You need to be loved yet are reluctant to enter into a close relationship. This attachment style, shared by 3-5 percent of adults, can be extremely confusing to a partner because you may vacillate from anxiousness to avoidance on a regular basis.
Attachment Styles and Marriage/Divorce
As you may imagine, your attachment style affects almost every aspect of a romantic relationship, including the expectations you have for your partner, how you deal with conflict, your feelings toward sex, and how you perceive intimacy.
A study conducted in 2019 looked at how attachment styles and divorce are related. The study included 413 adults, with 56 percent women and 44 percent men, and looked at whether there was a correlation between attachment styles and the four types of dysfunctional communication, criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. The researchers found that both avoidant and anxious attachment styles were positively and significantly correlated with all four of the dysfunctional communication types. Furthermore, the study found that individuals with an insecure attachment style have a much greater likelihood of a history of divorce, even after controlling for age. Conversely, people with a low anxious or avoidant attachment style, meaning a secure attachment style, are more likely to be currently involved in a close relationship, regardless of a history of divorce.
If you are curious about your attachment style, Psychology Today offers an online quiz with a free summary at the end or you can purchase a more in-depth analysis.
Contact a Murfreesboro Divorce Attorney
If you have questions or concerns about divorce in Tennessee, contact a Murfreesboro divorce attorney to discuss your options. Contact the team at Bennett | Michael | Hornsby as soon as possible by calling 615-898-1560 to schedule your free appointment.