Rus Articles Journal

Influence of styles of attachment on behavior in a situation of divorce

Each person differently reacts to parting. In many respects it depends on personal features and vulnerability to separation experience. In this article influence of styles of attachment of spouses on their behavior during divorce is considered.

the British psychoanalyst John Boulbi created the theory of attachment according to which the relations between mother and the child for the first years of life have crucial importance for development of the identity of the child and the interpersonal relations on an extent all lives. The central provision of the theory of attachment can be formulated as follows: nature of attachment of the child and mother (and other caring persons) will be transformed to steady internal representations and expectations of rather close relations on which ability of the person to creation of close relations and adequate response to inevitable divergences in expectations and the conflicts directly depends.

Experience of the reliable and cordial emotional relations with mother is the base on which personal relations of the person throughout all life are under construction. The most serious difficulties arise when parents have unresolved difficulties in the relations of affection for own parents. As showed researches, styles of attachment can be transferred from one generation to another, that is, children`s experience of the relations of attachment influences formation of emotional connection with own child.

mother - the baby British psychologist Mary Ainsworth offered

as a result of supervision over interaction in a dyad typology of their three styles of attachment: reliable, avoiding it is also disturbing - ambivalenty.

People with reliable style of attachment had mothers who in the early childhood were available, sympathetic and careful, showed consideration for their requirements and showed love when their kids needed a consolation. At children with reliable attachment the confidence results that in case of need they can always achieve attention of the parent. This experience in many respects defines their relation to life, in general. Such children can relax and investigate world around.

the subsequent people with reliable style of attachment are usually capable to find

B balance between independence and proximity in the relations with other person. They perceive themselves as the attractive and causing sympathy people; they do not need confirmation from the outside of own value. As their development happened in the atmosphere of reliability and safety, they trust other people, are capable to share the feelings and to ask for the help. People with reliable style have attachments, as a rule, good skills of communication. They are capable to regulate the mood, to integrate mixed feelings, to control negative emotions, to resolve the arising conflicts in cooperation with the partner. In crisis situations more constructive strategy of the solution of problems are available to them.

People with it is disturbing / ambivalenty style of attachment usually had no consecutive care in their infancy; their mothers treated them that with caress and responsiveness, ignored and neglected them requirements. Such inconsistency, apparently, left kids in uncertainty concerning whether their mother when they need it will be near.

B the subsequent people with it is disturbing / ambivalent attachment are inclined to exaggerate value of proximity and the involvement into relationship reaching almost merge and loss of personal borders. They quite often suffer from alarm and doubts in themselves, are anxious with emotional safety in the relations. Most of all they are afraid that they can be left therefore manifestations by the partner of need for loneliness and independence are endured by them as serious danger. In close relations it is disturbing / ambivalent people are exacting, dependent, jealous and inclined to reactions of “tseplyaniye“, and often perceive the partner as evading from obligations.

People with the avoiding style of attachment had mothers tolerant to their emotional state and needs in the early childhood. Quite often long rejection and hostility is found from those who had to care for them. Alternation of separation and the interfering behavior of mother leads to protective behavior of the child. He tries to forget about the need for mother, chooses a reserved and indifferent manner of behavior to avoid new disappointments. When mother comes back after the separation periods, such babies refuse to look at them, as if denying any feelings to it. In their behavior it is possible to see a reproach:“ Who are you? Do I have to recognize you? - that which will not help me when I need it“. To teenage age such behavior is consolidated in steady installation of aloof independence.

B the subsequent people with the avoiding style of attachment depreciate value of close relations. As a rule, they are pessimistic rather personal relations. Manifestation of need for proximity is perceived by them as threat therefore they separate and avoid intimate relations. They are inclined to change partners and to be involved in noncommittal sexual communications. They have not enough sensitivity to needs of another, and self-disclosure frightens them. Experiences of a distress and an insecurity are denied by them. As they need perceiving and presenting themselves as very self-assured, they are supersensitive to rejection and reactions of anger.

Partners with mutual reliable style of attachment

of Couple with mutual reliable style of attachment have rather low interest of stains. Nevertheless they can finish the relations which are not satisfying them. People with reliable attachment usually choose partners with similar beliefs concerning proximity and reliability in the relations. They build the relations on the basis of mutual and continuous self-disclosure, accept shortcomings and support each other.

in case of divorce both spouses reconcile with the decision to divorce and can pass through it without mutual recriminations even if the initiative proceeded from one of them. Owing to good feeling of independence they begin to concern themselves and the former spouse as people to whom it is necessary anew, to build private life with other partner. The assessment of the internal resources as adequate to that call which rose before them allows them to meet pain of parting and prospect of future life separately, perhaps alone, without feeling of excessive threat and acts complicating divorce process. They are capable to approach rationally a situation, to discuss the specific questions directed to the solution of problems without distortion of words and the partner`s acts.

Both partners understand need of reorganization of tenor of life, especially concerning care of the child. Thanks to the personal abilities and skills of solution of problems they do not go in cycles in collapse of hopes, and start reorganization of the life and the future of the children with the maximum accounting of needs of all family members.

Though people with reliable attachment are inclined to ask for the help in a situation of a distress and to derive benefit from it, in most cases they are capable to cope with crisis of divorce without psychological assistance. In case of the request for consultation they want to obtain information on how to minimize harm to their children, to organize mutual participation in education of children, discuss ways of overcoming of financial problems. Support and the help of the psychologist in experience and judgment of a rupture of the relations gradually leads to adequate adaptation to the current life situation.

Partners with the reliable and avoiding styles of attachment

the divorce Basis among partners with the reliable and avoiding styles of attachment it becomes frequent inability of the avoiding individual to respond to needs of the spouse for proximity and reciprocity, the aloof independence shown them. Divorce quite often is even initiated by the avoiding partner to prevent rejection as he feels that his spouse is not satisfied.

People with the avoiding style of attachment are pessimistic

concerning relationship in general and concerning a possibility of restoration of the problematic relations, in particular. Flight is a way of reaction, habitual for them. Being realistic they realize the moment when marriage cannot be restored any more and then agree to divorce without excessive concern.

Behaviour of these couples during divorce is characterized by physical and emotional isolation, a minimum of the conflicts and emotional splashes. Partners with reliable style of attachment accepts a gap and addresses in himself to comprehend the life situation. Partners with the avoiding style are inclined to deny pain and to diminish value of the spouse for his or her wellbeing. Quite often they leave “the territory connecting couple“, leaving a bedroom or the house. They try to finish as soon as possible divorce process somewhat quicker to restore the internal balance.

Partners with reliable attachment realize

that children need both parents therefore aspire to discussing current situation and to plan the joint action plan, however face a tendency of the partner to avoid conversation. They also try to arrange meetings of children with the avoiding parent who however can begin to load himself at work, not to appear at birthday of the child and other events, important for the child, that is, try to evade from parental responsibilities.

As at emergence of intensity in the relations of spouses with reliable style of attachment adheres to an optimistical spirit concerning the future of relationship and therefore can suggest to ask for the help the psychologist working with married couples. However, such couple quite seldom reaches the psychologist as the avoiding partner is usually not inclined to cooperation and rejects any offers of the partner.

Partners with reliable it is also disturbing / ambivalent styles of attachment

In marriage between people with reliable and is disturbing / ambivalent styles of attachment the first usually shows care of the spouse. Such situation can be violated owing to an excessive tseplyaniye is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner and his rejection of any manifestations of independence that leads sooner or later to feelings of infringement and indignation of the spouse with reliable attachment.

For it is disturbing - the ambivaletny person divorce bears threat therefore it holds any opportunity to keep marriage, for example, goes on agreements which rejected earlier.

Both spouses can realize requirement to think of children, however only the partner with reliable attachment is capable to divide a matrimonial and parental role. He continues to care for the child as before, offers arrangements concerning the future, for example, that it could meet the child during the week-end. It is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner can use children as a way to hold the spouse. It is difficult for them to consider a stress to which their children are exposed as a result of divorce and they are inclined to attribute to children own feelings of leaving and alarm of parting. For example, they can tell:“ Your father abandoned us “or“ she does not love us more“.

Both partners can feel

extremely upset as numerous attempts to clear a situation were vain. Independently or together they can look for interventions of the independent party. It is disturbing - ambivalenty partners can offer an opportunity to address the psychologist - as a rule in hope that it will change a position of their partner. Spouses can agree with reliable style of attachment, expecting that the psychologist will help their partner to accept the divorce fact, to cope with feelings of emptiness, helplessness and strong alarm or to reduce concern in and to think of the future of their children.

Partners with it is disturbing - ambivalenty and avoiding styles of attachment

can choose

of People with the avoiding style of attachment unconsciously it is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner as dependence of the last justifies his avoiding and confirms perception of other people as not caring and rejecting. In turn, the person with it is disturbing - ambivalenty attachment the partner escaping from the relations can attract; he unconsciously seeks for confirmation of the fear to be thrown.

In marriage it is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner is incessantly disappointed with estrangement and coldness of the partner, and, on the contrary, the partner with the avoiding style extremely angers a tseplyaniye is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner what he separates even stronger from. Under the threat of parting it is disturbing - the ambivalenty partner will test any tricks and maneuvers to hold “half“. Process of divorce awakens mutual anger. At it is disturbing - ambivalenty individuals the anger is started by fear of abandonment and feeling of helplessness. The avoiding partners, have the inducing force of angry reactions a mental anguish caused by crash of a facade of indifference and control.

such couples turn out

In divorce process absorbed by race for power. Everyone tries to find the lost feeling of control. Though the desire to discuss current situation can be declared, fear works that it will be regarded by the partner as a sign of weakness and submission. Suspiciousness leads to various manipulations and aggressive skirmishes.


In aspiration to win over the opponent in fight children can be involved. For example, everyone can have plans for the child which are not discussed with him. It is disturbing - ambivalent mother, for example, can agree about some circle for the child in day of meetings of the child with the father, and then accuse the last of unwillingness to meet the child. The avoiding father, facing that the child is absent or with something it is busy when he came, feels outcast and stops the attempts to contact to the child.

Partners with mutual it is disturbing / ambivalent style of attachment

Marriages between individuals with is disturbing - ambivalenty attachment are quite rare. As a rule they are reduced together by an ideal of spiritual relationship, aspiration to perfect proximity and responsiveness. The matrimonial life of such couples which is quite confused as owing to lack of personal borders they are inclined to merge and perceive the partner as continuation their, but not as the individual. The disappointment in expectations leads to destruction of illusions that can lead to aspiration to find other ideal partner.

Threat of divorce starts

in the person with is disturbing - ambivalent attachment intensive fears. The earliest and strong is the fear of leaving which in some cases can just be endured as existence threat. Under the influence of this fear both partners are inclined to sabotage divorce process. They can declare that they cannot live more together together, however are not capable and to leave. Many such couples are in a condition of “chronic divorce“. Children are often used to seize that partner who insists on divorce at present.

their communication during divorce characterizes by

mutual recriminations and projections as each partner denies the personal problems and refuses to take responsibility for disintegration of marriage and escalation of the conflict. The alarm suppresses their ability to reasonable judgment. The effort of one of spouses provokes to be released in another anger and retaliation - the insults often gaining violent character. Insults often come true presence at the partner of the lover or the mistress, however in the basis of this behavior inability to see in another the individual lies.

Partners with the mutual avoiding style of attachment

the Avoiding partners can choose by

each other initially to liquidate a possibility of proximity. Characterizing their marriaget dispassionateness and coldness that provides with both control over proximity level. Such marriage can exist long enough, yet there is no something irreparable - something that is perceived as improper treatment and rejection. It can be a verbal abuse or a physical abuse. When the offended spouse declares desire to leave another also begins to feel deeply touched. As a rule, any does not show efforts restoring the relations as divorce promises release and hope to find more suitable partner.


“Just anger“ to punishment finally that wakes up in the partner feelings of isolation and helplessness, and also control loss. Lack of sympathy leads to the planned, malicious actions. Revenge and violence in this case - means to restore the self-assessment.

Children of such couple risk to be

pawns whom endow during battle. Charge of ill treatment of the child - maneuver which can lead to special judicial proceedings. The whole fight for the right of guardianship over children can be arranged, but at all not because both want that children lived with them, and from aspiration to restrain and deprive of something special the former partner. In extreme cases business can reach even kidnapping.