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Book Summary: Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin

by | Aug 24, 2023

Wired for Love by Stan Tatkin is a book I often recommend to others.  These are my personal notes from the book.  These are not all direct quotes, but also paraphrases and added commentary from me.  A * designates a note-worthy point.  If any of these notes spark interest or curiosity, lean in and learn more.  As always, reading the book for yourself is suggested. 

  • 10 Principles:
  • Create a couple bubble
  • Put secure seeking parts of your brain at ease
  • Know whether you’re an anchor, wave, or island
  • Know how to please and soothe one another
  • Create rituals
  • Serve as the other’s primary go-to person
  • Prevent third-wheel relationships
  • Learn to fight well
  • Rekindle love through eye contact
  • Minimize one another’s stress and optimize one another’s health

1.Couple Bubble

Couple bubble allows partners to keep each other safe and secure

Are you an ally or enemy?

Longing for  a safe zone is why we pair up

We want to matter to our partner– be visible and important, but we may not know how to achieve this, but we want it so much that it shapes much of what we do and say to one another. We want to know our efforts are noticed and appreciated and regarded as important. 

Modern expectations– swept off our feet, feel whole, soul mates

Prioritize mutuality– caring what each other thinks rather than independence/autonomy

Have good intentions, have care and concern for one another 

Relationship more important than need to be right

We come first

Relationships aren’t a burger joint- you don’t get to pick and choose or get it your way

Repair

Submission competition

Your job is to know what matters to your partner

don’t make threats

2. Warring/Loving Brain

Partners can make love and avoid war when their primitives are put at ease

The parts of our brain that are good at keeping us from being killed are also quite stupid

Primitive brain ( flooding, F’s ) vs ambassador ( moral and empathic center )

Stop and listen to the sound our voices make as we talk to our partner

Wait until your partner has calmed down

3.Know Your Partner

Partners relate to one another as anchors islands or waves 

How can u get what u want and need in a relationship while avoiding fear of what may happen?

We are hurt and healed by people 

Know your partner, be yourself, don’t try to change your partner/work on acceptance 

Through acceptance, high regard, respect, devotion, support and safety will your partner grow more secure/anchor. 

Unhappy partners claim ignorance and maintain claims of ignorance throughout the relationship 

Claims of ignorance are untrue even though they feel true  (If I had known…, I don’t know what planet you’re on…) 

We do things automatically without thinking, autopilot

Having the sense that “i know who you are” makes it easier to be forgiving and to be sincerely supportive

3 styles of relating– anchor, wave, island

 *anchor— secure as individuals, willing to commit and fully share, generally happy, adapt easily

rational, forgiving, imperfect, grateful, say “us”, compromise, relational, sensitive, plugged in, open, respectful, mindful, tethered, do self care, supportive, gives and takes 

anchors can pull non anchors into becoming anchors

 *island— independent and self reliant, take care of themselves, productive/creative when given space, low maintenance

Rejects, avoids, nonresponsive, independent, resists, unengaged, private, dismissive, distant, future focus, do it myself kind of person, retreats to calm down

Feel that they can’t give them what partner wants from them 

Thinks they’re low maintenance 

Inability to recall loving moments 

Doesn’t look to others for affection, focus is on taking care of self 

Bids for attention can feel jarring 

Experiences interpersonal stress more than others 

Overly sensitive to perceived intrusions

Look toward the future and avoid present or past relationships 

Unable to recall specifics 

Need partners who will make the effort to find out what makes them tick 

Uses words or the withholding of words as weapons 

May find it difficult  to communicate feelings or pick up on feelings of others 

*wave— generous and giving, takes care of others, happiest when with others, able to see both sides

If only you loved me like I love you 

Up and down, past focused, dramatic, vacillates, victim mentality, scared, insecure, threatened, negative 

Takes care of others 

Thrives on relationships 

Talks to calm down 

Thinks partners are selfish or self centered 

Feels love relationships can be disappointing or exhausting 

Can Insist too much on verbal assurances of love and security 

Can be overly expressive dramatic emotional tangential irrational or angry 

Can also be unforgiving punishing rejecting or inflexible 

4. Pleasing and Soothing Your Partner 

Partners who are experts on one another know how to please and soothe each other 

Agree to take each other on as is and take responsibility for one another’s care 

Be experts of one another 

Know each other’s vulnerabilities 

Don’t let fear be the glue that holds you together 

What uplifts your partner?

Know how to be of help 

Learn how to repair damage 

Prevent problems before they arise 

  • Common vulnerabilities:

* Islands— feeling intruded upon, feeling trapped or out of control, fear of too much intimacy, fear of being blamed

Antidotes: approach quietly, give them a few minutes, ask them when they will be ready, ask for just a few min, offer choices, show appreciation and understanding

* Waves— fear of being abandoned, fear of being separated, discomfort at being alone for too long, feeling you are a burden 

Antidotes: tell them not to worry, ask them to come close, send texts/loving notes, tell them what you’re looking forward to, remind them they aren’t a burden, affirm them 

5. Morning and Bedtime 

Partners with busy lives should create rituals to stay connected 

You can be your partners best anti depression/anti anxiety agent 

Separations, reunions, morning, and bedtime rituals 

Initiate a few minutes together 

Full greet 

Put your partner to bed 

Regular contact 

6. Availability 

Partners should serve as primary go to people for one another 

primary attachment status 

Tethering — connected, secure base, comfort and security

Islands don’t think they need tethering, waves think of tethering in a childish one way kind. 

Islands and waves can sometimes spread themselves among many diff people 

2 brains are better than one 

Tethered partners can lend and borrow their brains and nervous systems 

We come first 

Be willing to go the extra mile 

Put in the highest level of effort 

Give freely 

Partners who are tethered experience more safety and security , have more energy, take more risks, and experience less stress 

* To do: make an agreement to be available to one another, develop go to signals, recognize your need to be tethered, be there for each other’s emotional needs 

7. Protecting the Bubble, Including Outsiders 

Partners should prevent each other from being a third wheel 

* Thirds— people, friends, tasks, children, objects, work, hobbies, games, strangers, inlaws, addiction, affairs, etc 

Unholy alliances with your children 

Destabilized— Feeling safer and more relaxed with a third than your partner 

Have a strategy 

Us and them stance 

2007 study of 70k adults— 44 % of men and 36% of women had cheated 

What does infidelity mean to your couple bubble?

Infidelity— sexual, emotional closeness, sharing secrets, flirting, sexting, porn, etc 

2+1=0 vs no problem 

* To do— always make your partner number 1, remind your partner they’re number 1, realize your power as a couple 

8. Fight Well 

Partners who want to stay together need to learn to fight well. 

A secure couple bubble won’t create complete immunity from discord. 

Be aware of your tone and volume. And your facial expressions. 

Stop speaking when flooded. 

Trust that no one is going to end up the loser. 

Couples in distress look away from one another. Big mistake. Averting your eyes deprives you of important info. 

Hearing your partners voice without seeing them can be misleading. Don’t email and text in conflict. 

Breathe, relax, mind your tone. 

Know when to take a break, give it a rest, change the subject or distract. 

Take responsibility. 

Seek out an outcome where u both can be winners. 

You can’t expect your partner to share your same values at all times. This leads to disillusionment disappointment and anger. 

Don’t just express self interest. 

Use positive influence

Negotiations don’t have to be entirely symmetrical, bargaining is fine, compromises shouldn’t result in someone losing. 

Don’t expect your partner to be your clone. 

Islands go their  separate ways. 

Waves bully each other into submission. 

Repair. 

It’s possible to transform a bad memory years later. If you and your partner are willing to do the work. 

Gratitude. 

To do— losing not allowed, rewire your ways of fighting, don’t give up. 

  1. Rekindling Love 

Partners can rekindle love at any time through eye contact. 

Don’t depend on lust to rekindle romance. 

Sustained gazing can lead to relaxation, sense of safety, and present engagement. 

Islands tend to prefer to gaze inwardly or distantly. They report feeling irritated and harassed by partners need for close proximity and contact. Feel intruded upon or ashamed of their reactions, concealing it with avoidance excuses withdrawal or anger. 

Waves crave closeness for long durations. They can perceive threats of rejection, withdrawal or punishment, whether real or imagines. Be overly sensitized to anticipating rejection. 

* To do— don’t be shy, investigate discomfort, vary your approach, use all senses, practice

9. Stress and Healing

Partners can minimize each other’s stress and optimize each other’s health. 

  • Behaviors considered threatening:

Rage, hitting, threats against the relationship or person 

Holding on for too long and not letting go

Refusing to repair or make right a wrong 

Withdrawing for periods of time longer than 2 hrs 

Consistently unapologetic 

Habitually unfair or unjust

Self serving interests ahead of relationship 

Contempt

Disgust 

It’s not enough to minimize stress at home , your relationship can and should serve as your strongest force for health and well-being. 

Time spent hugging and touching can have measurable neurobiological consequences. Giving each other touch can reverse damage. 

Touch one another 10 min every day! No sex. Just physical contact/connection. 

Everyone experiences stress in a diff way – be careful not to impose your own evaluation of stress on your partner. 

Stress can aggravate illness and make it worse. 

3 D’s— 

Disregard

Dismiss

Didn’t know (claim)

3 R’s— 

Redo

Repair 

Reinvent 

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About Kristi | View Profile

Kristi Schwegman is a psychotherapist specializing in helping couples develop healthy relationships, whether dating, engaged, or married. She also draws from her Christian-based approach to lead individuals in becoming aware of the limiting beliefs that can get them stuck.

We offer in-person and virtual services – contact us today to learn more!

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