Why I’m an ‘Avoider’ in My Marriage and FMTM

I’m what’s referred to as an “Avoider” in my “love-style.” I’ve also got a dash of “Vacillator” and a pinch of “Pleaser” in me as well. Even though it might sound like it, I’m not talking about a tasty autumn soup. 😉

What I’m referring to are some of the “love-styles” that are developed from“imprints” that occur in our childhoods.

Avoid Emotion

These love styles are identified and unpacked by Milan and Kay Yerkovich in the book, How We Love. This married team of counselors and authors go on to say say that, in adulthood, our love styles initially draw us to our mates, but eventually serve to repel us from them as well.

It’s a fascinating and eye-opening read that I would highly recommend, especially if you’re struggling to understand why your mate does what s/he does. #matemakesnosense

As an “Avoider,” I have a tendency to isolate, operate independently, and have difficulty receiving affection, comfort, as well as help from my mate.

How my Avoider imprint developed . . . 

My parents had me late in their lives. My mom was almost 40 and my dad was 43, so my siblings were 14 and almost 9 years my senior by the time I came along.

By that point, my dad was a workaholic pastor who probably also had an “Avoider” imprint. So I learned very well from him how to operate independently from my family. I really can’t recall ever feeling close to him, though I worked on that relationship during the last five years of his life to bridge the gap—and am so glad I did! #nottoolate

By the time I was a school-aged child, my brother was out on his own, while my sister was going through some painful situations in her teens. My mom chose (based upon my perception) to wrap herself up in the task of comforting and encouraging my sister in those trials.

I remember feeling overlooked and neglected. I also felt discouraged and alone. I wanted my mom’s attention, but I quickly learned how to “self-soothe” instead of letting her know that I had a need.

My go-to method was to crawl under my bed and cry. 🙁

In time, I even began to feel resentful about my sister’s openness and tear-filled times with my mom. I remember my childlike reasoning—vowing to myself that I would never be “weak” like my sister, who cried at the drop of a hat.

And I fulfilled that personal vow by learning very skillfully how to shut off any emotion or tears like I was turning off a faucet.

Of course, over the years I learned how to make time for a “controlled cry” in the privacy of my closet or under my bed (when I still could fit under there!). After a therapeutic time of tears, I typically felt cleansed and no one was the wiser regarding my pain.

Just last week I wrote about how my husband has learned perfectly how to comfort me and be with me in my pain. Normally, I wouldn’t have let him even know that I was hurting that deeply—at least not by letting the tears flow in front of him. Oh sure, I’d been willing to cry in front of him about how he’d hurt me (something I’d stretched and grown in over the years).

But that monumental moment between the two of us was not only monumental for what my hubby demonstrated to me, it was monumental for how I showed vulnerability to him regarding hurts that didn’t directly involve him. Those were the kinds of issues I’d always tried to handle on my own and certainly wasn’t willing to cry about them in front of Gary.

[Tweet “Realizing that I’m an Avoider has given me the courage to go against that ingrained “grain.” “]

Moving forward, I want to be more open and vulnerable in all kinds of ways in my life and marriage, because I’m realizing that it’s healing to my heart and invites my husband into my intimate world.

Who wouldn’t want that? 😉

Now I know . . .

[Tweet “Crying is liquid strength in weakness—flowing freely without fear. “]

What do you “avoid” in your marriage and life that needs to be encouraged or allowed?


What are some ways you can open yourself up more to your mate?


[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come and join us for another From Messes to Message Linkup! #MessyMarriage”]

Thanks so much to those who’ve taken the time to do the survey on sexual hang-ups in marriage. I’ll be posting about those troubling situations one at a time in the months to come. But for now I’m hoping you’ll consider posing any marriage or relationship questions you might have so that my hubby and I (or just I) can respond in video form on the weekend posts in the weeks to come. You can access that brief, two question survey here.

Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, Fresh Market Friday, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup.

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  • Beth, I grew up determined not to let anyone ever see me cry too. When I gave my life to Christ it’s like a dam broke. I still don’t like to cry when I’m hurt, but I’ve learned to be much more open with my feelings. Tears expressed can be healing.

  • “when I could still fit under there!” that is funny Beth! But what a deep unpacking in this post. The carefully planned out response pattern is familiar – lately I’ve been feeling (read convicted) about the little areas I hold back because I am unsure about the response from hubby. That need for control and covering for myself when I can’t control the outcome is an ongoing journey..I am glad for the distance I have traveled but I see the distance remaining! Thank you for sharing this.

  • pioneerpat1

    You are actually “A Green” in this “colors” personality stuff I have to do a work these days.

    But I to have learned to avoid in my life. I never got any attention as a kid. It was all about my parental unit, I was just there to make sure stuff got down.

    I avoid by downplaying who I am. I have learned to hide things about myself and even the good things I have accomplished. I have learned in relationships that people are scared by me. The reason is that I don’t come off as somebody who has accomplished much but I have. I try to have no ego and that scares mates as then it becomes all about them.

    Thanks for hosting.

  • Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth – and Gary is lucky to share his life with someone who has taken so very much trouble – and, methinks, pain – to understand herself.

    I’d like to offer a caution to women – that it can take time for a husband to verbalize emotions, much less cry. I’ve been on the receiving end of a ‘time limit’ (“Well, if you can’t talk about it, whatever!”) and this makes me more determined never to show either sadness OR happiness.

    And I don’t cry. Tears solve nothing for me, and they distract from the road ahead. It’s impossible to explain this to my wife, or, really, to anyone.

    My wife sure didn’t win the lottery when she met me, and I will forever regret that.


  • Susan

    I very well could be in the avoider corner with you Beth. I might have to check on that book you mention. My hubs and I, after 34 years, have figured each other out fairly well. But, hey there is always room for growth and improvement, right? Thank you for the linkup and I do hope you are feeling better. xo

  • Hmmm . . .I’m not sure which one I am, so I’ve got to think about it. Thanks for being so free in sharing your own style and its related issues!

  • It’s so good to know that no matter what sinful ways of responding we might have developed in the past, we can repent, confess them to the Lord, and learn to put Christlike habits on in their place. I love discovering all the passages that talk about putting one thing off and putting another on, especially Eph. 4, Col. 3 & Phil. 2. Thanks for hosting, Beth. I hope you’re doing well health-wise. Blessings!

  • I am so thankful for the resources available to us that help give insight into all the parts of our life that go into how we navigate marriage. And I’m grateful for your insight and passion Beth! I’m adding this book to my list! Love this link-up!!

  • Oh, I’m picturing little Beth crawling under her bed to shed her tears and it ’bout breaks my heart. Thank you for allowing God to touch those wounded places and giving you a powerful platform of grace and understanding to others who still weep those silent tears …

  • Beth, I can identify with so much of this! You have worked so hard to self-reflect and become a healthier woman and wife to your husband. That is so admirable!
    Blessings, my friend,

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