“Wired for love : how understanding your partner’s brain and attachment style “can help you defuse conflict and build a secure relationship by Stan Tatkin is one of the most practical couple’s book in recent years. Tatkin explains how the brain is wired for different types of people and how the wiring influences how people relate to one another. Here is an overview of the 10 tools he outlines in the book.
1.The Couple Bubble is first. Both people must believe the relationship is of primary importance above the needs of each individual. A couple who puts the relationship first knows that they will benefit if their partners needs are satisfied. A happy contented partner means they will be open to making sure your needs are met as well. Thereby both of you benefit from serving each other.
2.Manage your primitive brain. We all have a brain response which is activated by threat, commonly referred to as the fight, flight, or freeze response. Tatkin refers to this response as the “primitives”. We also have a cognitive, thinking part of the brain; he calls the “Ambassadors”. When the primitives are activated and we are responding to a perceived threat, the ambassadors go offline, and we are unable to access them in the moment. We might become defensive, argue to get our point across, go silent, or want to run away from the situation. Our ability to think, reason and listen is very much compromised. When our bodies calm down after the threat has passed, our ambassadors come back online and we become able to use rational thought and talk through our mis-understandings.
3.Know your partner. Here we need to set out to understand who is the person you are partnered with? Are they an “Island”, someone who needs little interaction and feels suffocated easily. Or is your partner a “wave” seeking connection every chance they get? Some partners are both waves or both islands, but one person is more of the type than the other.
4.Become a specialist on your partner. Make a point to find out the 3-4 things that set off your partner’s primitives. Things you know will lead your partner to a threat response. Then find out the 3-4 things that you could do in the moment, which would calm your partners primitives down and help them feel secure in the relationship. For instance, when my husband’s primitives are activated, if I touch the back of his neck gently, he calms down immediately. He feels criticized (threat) and wants to defend himself (a long standing emotional wound established long before he met me.) If I show him care by touching his neck, it helps him remember I’m on his side and he calms down.
5.Manage Launching and Landings. Build an agreement for a ritual you both can count on when you separate and reunite during the day. This might be as simple as a kiss and saying ‘I love you” before going to work. Or it could be elaborate, the first person home cooks dinner, and greets the trailing partner at the door with a kiss and warm embrace when they return.