“Seeking a loving relationship” is now the most common search item online as determined by Google. The online world is awash with websites, chat rooms, blogs and bulletin boards devoted to questions about: What is love? Is love possible? Can you have a loving relationship?
The Evolution of Love
Until recently, philosophers, scientists, sociologists and other researchers have envisioned “love” more sentimentally as a mysterious force that sweeps us off our feet – a sentimental mixture of sex and desire, perhaps fostered by hormones and pheromones, eluding any rational sense.
However the past couple of decades have seen a revolution in what we now understand about “love” and why it is so fundamentally important to us as individuals, couples, families, communities and as a species. In fact what we now know indicates that “love” as it has come to be understood is fundamental for our survival.
In the scientific world, clinicians and researchers interested in the neurobiology of interpersonal relationships have learned that love is in fact an exquisite survival system that has been hard wired into mammalian brains over thousands of years of evolution.
Love and Mother-Infant Bonding
First recognized and written about in the 1950s and 60s by an English psychiatrist, Dr. John Bowlby, this bonding process originates, in the earliest moments of a child’s life, with the physical and emotional interactions the infant experiences with its mother or primary caregiver.
These interactions are the basis for physical and emotional mother-infant bonding. This bonding as Dr. Bowlby demonstrated is essential for our survival and indeed the survival of all mammalian species. More recently, science has shown that these bonds early in an infant’s life create deep feelings of either security or insecurity in children.
Over the past three decades, clinicians and researchers studying the neurobiology of interpersonal and romantic relationships have determined that these “models of relating” are carried into people’s adult lives and are powerful forces in people’s relationships, especially their romantic or “love” relationship(s).
As Dr. Sue Johnson, author of the books Hold Me Tight and Love Sense and one of the most prolific researcher in this area contends, “what we now know is that the power of that maternal love/attachment with infants is also a fundamental force in adult romantic relationships.”
Love as the Core of Relationships
At Clear Path Solutions, we echo Dr. Johnson’s contention that this “love” force can and in fact must be recognized and understood for couples to develop trusting, secure and stable long-term intimate relationships. Our couple and marriage therapists are skilled in recognizing and working with the underlying feelings of hurt and anger that rupture couples’ emotional bonds and must be addressed in relationship recovery.
Therapists at Clear Path Solutions view couples’ and families’ patterns of dysfunctional reactions and responses through the lens of this fundamental relational force. Relationship breakdowns and apparently irrational expressions of hurt, anger, sadness and even rage are recognized as expressions of a deep need for and a perceived threat to the reassurance and safety of a couples’ primary emotional bond.
At Clear Path Solutions the goal of our couple and family work is to help couples restore this fundamental emotional bond by fostering new types of interactions based on emotional accessibility and responsiveness rather than just the learning of basic communication skills.
In this way couples and families can learn to reciprocally help each other keep emotional balance and foster more secure bonding between them. This creates a solid foundation for long-lasting, healthy couple and family relationships, as well as happier and healthier individuals.