What is Emotional Security
Emotional security is knowing it is safe to know and be known. Completely known by the people in your life.
I know a woman who is beautiful. By any definition, she contains all of the outer signs of beauty. She is also smart, articulate and funny. I met her because of a wound. Not a physical wound but one that was even more insidious. She’s never felt safe to share emotionally her entire life, with anyone. Sexually assaulted when she was nine years old, told she was worthless most of her life by her father and systematically tormented emotionally by her husband for nearly twenty years she vacillates between hating herself for being beautiful and hating herself for not being beautiful enough. She once told me, she was sick of men telling her she was beautiful because she wanted to meet some guy that was not just telling her that because he wanted to take her to bed. She was willing to go through hours of plastic surgery and spend more money than some people will spend on a house to make her body look a certain way not because she loved her husband, but because she thought that might be the final thing that would cause her husband to love her. Do you think she ever shared her dreams with her husband? If she felt that she had to go through all of that just to cause him to love her, do you think she ever really felt valued or heard? Is it any wonder that she finally came to the place in her life where she gave serious thought to suicide? Would you be shocked if I told you that she had three children that were all very angry? How good to you think Dad was at answering these core questions for them? Of course, the obvious question is how would he have been a different dad and husband if he had the three core questions answered for him by people in his life.
I am convinced that the one thing we need is emotional security. But what is it? So far, I have told you that we need one thing and then told you that we actually have three core questions. So is it one or three? The answer is yes. Emotional security goes beyond emotional attachment. Emotional security (ES) is essential because it will glue you and your spouse to each other. If you have ever seen a person who inspires loyalty in the people that work for her, you have seen someone who knows how to create emotional security in other people. Emotional security comes from being able to answer all of three core questions in the affirmative. I believe we are hard-wired to get these answers from our parents when we are children. Mom’s and Dad’s who are reading this, please hear what I am saying, you will answer this question for your child. More than anyone else, you will form the emotional security your child will have as an adult. If you can answer these core questions for them as a child and teenager, it will set them up for life. Of course, when they get married, they will seek to have this answered from their spouse. Learning it from you will help them to be able to give it to their spouse and eventually their own children.
Of course, your children will also learn it from how you and your spouse interact with each other. You are responsible for creating fertile ground for ES in your spouse. It is paramount for you to understand that you cannot grow it in your spouse, but you can and must create fertile ground for your spouse’s ES to grow. In many instances, you will be working against growth killers planted in the emotional heart of your spouse over the years. A person who grew up believing that she cannot trust others with anything but that one thing is not going to suddenly trust her spouse with it simply because they are married. Factor in the fact that we all know the divorce rates and to many people it only seems prudent that they would not share everything with a person that may or may not be there in the end. If you are married, your mission is to create the fertile ground for ES to occur. You get to pull the weeds that others have planted. You get to prepare the soil, and plant the seed. You may need to plant this seed over and over again. You get to water the seeds and provide sunshine. The part of this that no one likes is you get to wait.
My wife and I have planted gardens in the past. Some have been an abject failure, and some have had a modicum of success. No matter the results could you imagine if the next time, we planted our garden we would become angry if we planted the seeds and then became angry because we did not see any results the same day. Would you laugh any less at us if we became angry over a lack of results a week later? How about two weeks? Of course, we think that would be silly. The analogy breaks down a little bit when we move it over to human relationships. Of course, even in gardens there is an end time. We know that eventually the corn will grow and if it does not it seems reasonable to assume that something is wrong, that we need to fix.
The analogy breaks down a bit when we move it to human relationships. We know that they do not come with any such known timetable. I suppose, I could try to sell a lot of books by saying that I have finally figured it out and if you would just do these seven things, your spouse would have emotional security with you in seven short weeks. The problem is it would work as well as the next diet fad. Which is not to say that it would not work for some people but we all know it would not work for everyone. I do know if you are doing the things that cultivate fertile ground for ES that eventually your spouse will start to move towards a healthy place of EC. It may take some individualized counseling. It may take longer than you or I or even your spouse would for it to take, but it will happen.
You Can’t Build Emotional Security, You can only cultivate it