What is attachment theory and why does it matter to couples?

Feb 20, 2018

Attachment Theory is one of the foundational theories of psychology and human development.

It was developed by John Bowlby and Mary Ainsworth in the mid-1900s and shaped the way we understand development, parenting, and relationships today.

When specific to the parent-child relationship, in short, the theory states that optimal development occurs when a child is emotionally bonded to his caregivers through receiving nurturing, responsive, reliable, and predictable care. It also states that children's attachment needs (for affection, touch, comfort) are just as critical to thriving as basic survival needs (food, water, shelter, rest).

Although the development of attachment theory was centered on the parent-child relationship, over the last decade, researchers have been studying how attachment applies to adult love relationships.

What we know about attachment and love relationships is this:

Attachment and bonding needs are lifelong. 

This means, that even though we may be independent adults with careers, mortgages, and children to feed, we still need attachment and bonding basics such as:

Being able to access our loved ones,

Being responded to,

And engagement.  

We also know that problems within relationships and marriage tend to arise when one or both partners are starving for connection.

If you want to learn more about how to create more accessibility, responsiveness, and engagement within your marriage, click here.

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