I’m so excited to be switching gears for a month to talk about attachment!
I’ve been reading some books in the last year, and thinking and talking to people who are super smart, and I’ve become convinced that many issues in our marriages and spiritual lives are actually about attachment.
Attachment research is the science of how we relate to others. We can all have different attachment styles, based on whether we’ve got insecure attachment or secure attachment with our primary caregivers or loved ones (or even God!).
I thought I’d begin the series we’re jumping into in May by talking with Krispin Mayfield about our attachment styles with God, which set the stage for everything else in our lives.
Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:
Timeline of the Podcast
0:10 Opening reminders
2:10 Our topic this upcoming month!
With guest Krispin Mayfield
3:10 The origins of attachment science
7:45 Our attachment styles to God
22:15 Shame filled & anxious filled attachment
30:45 God as a therapist?
42:45 Research on attachment to parents vs religion
46:30 Attachment in marriage (2 RQs)
Main Segment: What Does It Mean to Be Attached to God?
I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Krispin’s book Attached to God.
Krispin is a licensed clinical counselor from the Portland area, and he does a lot of emotional therapy with couples to help them connect with their emotions and with each other.
But what if one of the big reasons that we can’t connect with our emotions is because we have insecure attachment styles, either because of what happened to us as kids or because of how we see God?
One of Krispin’s theories in the book is that our theology can shape our attachment. And often our theology about God–that if we feel far from God, we are doing something wrong–contributes to very insecure attachment styles.
Just a few quotes that I shared on the podcast (I’ll share more in another post!)
“Attachment science tells us how we feel in relationships. Do we feel safe and secure? Do we feel tentative or anxious? In the church, we know what we think about our relationship with God, but that can be different from how we feel about it….In most church communities, we’re afraid to talk about our insecurities with God because we feel we should not have them.”
“Then this confusing experience is made worse by the formulas we’re given by our faith communities. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren tells us, “You’re as close to God as you choose to be.” This becomes salt in the wound when we desperately want God to be close but experience only absence. If we feel far from God, we assume it’s because we’re not taking the steps, not because we don’t have an accurate map. If we don’t feel close, it must be our unwillingness to take the trek that keeps us apart.”
“Anxious attachment is a pattern of worriedly seeking closeness with God, fearing that the moment we relax, we will backslide into separation. We’re convinced it’s entirely up to us to maintain closeness with God, which means we can never actually rest with God. It’s up to you to stay close to God through prioritizing time in prayer, regular church attendance, or scheduled Bible reading.”
“Shame-filled attachment style puts us in a terrible place where we feel better when we’re distant from God and feel worse about ourselves when we’re close. Yet we need closeness, so we’re caught in a terrible dilemma. Though we long to draw near to God, as we come closer, we can see only disgust in the eyes of the Divine.”
He talks about three different styles of insecure attachment to God:
- Anxious Attachment
- Shutdown Attachment
- Shame-Filled Attachment
Then he explains how we can recover healthy attachment, and get over our insecure way of seeing God.
I found the book so freeing, as it helps us reframe what it really means to know God.
Check out Attached to God here!
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Then Keith joined me for some reader questions.
We looked at two different scenarios which originally look like marriage issues, but are likely rooted in attachment problems.
In one, a husband refuses to work through conflict, instead declaring that he is the “head of the household” and shutting down conversation. In another, a husband is super passive and refuses to initiate or engage.
Both could be signs of a shutdown attachment style, where emotions are scary and threatening, so you do everything you can to avoid showing vulnerability. At times it looks like someone being domineering, and at times it looks like someone being passive. We can think this is all about communication, but what if it’s rooted in our attachment style? That’s what I want to explore for the month of May. How much of our marriage issues can be reframed if we understand attachment styles?
Things Mentioned in This Podcast:
- Krispin Mayfield on Twitter, plus his book Attached to God
- The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex and The Good Guy’s Guide to Great Sex–check them out here!
- Knix bras! Use our affiliate links to purchase in Canada or in the United States
- The Journal Article Attachment Theory and Religion, on how secure attachment with parents makes it more likely that children will adopt the parents’ religion
- Rebecca’s book Why I Didn’t Rebel, which is all about how to have that sort of relationship with your teens
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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