Therapist Nadine Moore takes a closer look at Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon from Saturday's Royal Wedding and why some of us might find it easier to believe we are loved than others.
One of the things that has really stayed with me from watching the Royal Wedding was Michael Curry’s sermon.
It was this phrase: ‘When you are loved and you know it, when someone cares for you and you know it ...’
With my therapist head on, I could hear Bishop Curry talking about what some therapists call a ‘secure attachment’ – feeling safe in the knowledge that you are loved.
Some people may feel loved, despite arguing over things that feel big or experiencing their partner’s occasional disappointment or anger.
Someone else may not experience this luxury. No matter how lovingly and considerately their partner behaves, they might find it extremely difficult to truly believe that they are loved.
Despite signs to the contrary, they may consistently anticipate disaster or fear imminent rejection.
How our early relationships affect us as adults
How we feel inside a romantic relationship is often an echo of how we felt in our earliest relationships with our parents.
We often expect the same things to happen or behave in a way that helps us cope in a similar way.
If as a child we experienced a secure attachment with our primary caregiver, we knew that if they left they would return or if we were frightened we would receive comfort.
As an adult we might experience good self-esteem and feel safely loved – as Bishop Curry said, we are loved and we know it.
But if we had an insecure attachment to a parent, perhaps because they were absent or did not feel like they could be depended upon, then as an adult we might expect the same from other relationships too.
Perhaps we also developed a way to cope with a mother who was present but unresponsive – we work very hard to get noticed.
Then as an adult perhaps we do the same with our partner and feel dejected when their attention is elsewhere.
How we experienced our first care-giver relationship feels like it can predict how we will be treated in any relationship in the future.
What can we do about it?
Children often feel deserving of the ill treatment that they receive. As if something is wrong with them.
For example, if a caregiver is listless and unresponsive – they reason that this is because they are not interesting enough, they don’t deserve the attention.
And as adults this thinking can remain.
It can take a lot of hard work to come to the conclusion that as a child the hurt was undeserved. And as an adult that we can expect something different, that not every partner will be uninterested in the real us.
Through curiosity about our past we can seek to understand ourselves better and change our expectations for the future.
We can also seek to challenge the habits that we have taken on in order to cope.
Curiosity about our past can help us take the risk to try and expect something a little different. To find a place where we are loved and we know it.