Kay Yerkovich: Where we are broken? Where does Christ need to redeem us? Because Christ wasn’t an avoider. He was emotionally connected. He wasn’t a pleaser. He could say no. He wasn’t so idealistic. He said, “The world is so broken I need to die for it.” He wasn’t a chaotic controller or victim. So really, when you look at these love styles, they all fall short of Christ. And we could even think of Christ as a secure connector.
End of Excerpt
John Fuller: That’s Kay Yerkovich describing how you can discover your love style. And welcome to another Best of 2018 Focus on the Family broadcast. I’m John Fuller. And your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim Daly: John, every time we have Milan and Kay here, uh, our audience responds. You – you folks love to hear what these people have to say. And it’s so insightful about our childhoods, what we learn, what we bring into relationships, whether that’s your marriage, your parenting relationship, all of those things. Um, it has an impact on us. And the better and more knowledgeable we are about that impact, the healthier your relationships are going to be. You know, in Psalm, uh, 139, it says, “Search me, O God, and know my heart.” I love that. “Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!” That – I just love scripture. It’s so refreshing. And today, we want to learn how to search our own hearts and bring that before God and our spouse and our family and walk freely, uh, and truly in God’s rest. Here at Focus, we want to see you thrive in your marriage and in other relationships. That’s why we do this. Um, it’s to equip you to have a full life in Christ.
John: And our guests have some great insights for you. Now, if you’re not familiar with Milan and Kay, um, you can get very familiar with them by listening to a free download of a conversation we had with them a couple of years ago, “Discovering Your Love Style.” Um, we’re going to augment some of that content in today’s conversation. Uh, the book is How We Love. And it’s now expanded, and, uh, the subtitle is Discover Your Love Style, Enhance Your Marriage. Milan and Kay have been married for more than 40 years. They have four grown adult children and an unspecified number – it just says several grandchildren. How many?
Kay: Well, we keep changing that, so that’s why we don’t fill that spot in. But…
Jim: You don’t want to put that in print.
Kay: We just found out that we’re expecting the 10th grandchild.
Jim: Excellent. Well, welcome back to the program.
Milan Yerkovich: Thank you. We’re glad to be here.
Jim: Hey, you spent, uh, the first ten years of your marriage feeling stuck and unhappy. Take us back to that first 10 years so the folks that are struggling can better identify that they are in a place where they need help. What does it look like, your first 10 years of marriage?
Milan: The first ten years of marriage, we were simply operating on the downloads and operating systems that our families had imparted or downloaded into us without our permission, without our participation. Those early influences of how I view myself, how I view another person, what “we” means, whether “we” is necessary, or whether I’m good on my own and I don’t need “other” – all those definitions were put in deeply into our lives early on. So when we first got married, we had early imprints, where I was very worried that the – that whoever “other” was – turned out to be Kay – would not be attentive enough or would, uh, be distant or disconnected, and then I would over-pursue her, uh, trying to get her attention. Little did I know, she was an introvert and an emotionally avoidant person and I would overwhelm her. So I was “other”-dependent. She set the stage for how I was as a person, which is not fully healthy. That doesn’t resemble Christ. So the pleaser is a pursuer, and they’re hypervigilant. Now, you were the avoider. And the avoider is just the opposite of that.
Kay: Right. The avoider comes from a family where there’s not an emotional connection with parents. No one’s asking me, growing up, how do I feel. Uh, if something difficult came along, I was on my own to comfort myself or to try and work my way through that. And so when the avoider gets married, they feel independent. They feel like they’ve made their own decisions for many years, so it doesn’t even occur to me to consult him when I have a decision to make. And…
Jim: And it translates to being strong. It’s a valuable, culturally lifted-up attribute.
Kay: Oh, yes. It is.
Jim: “I am strong enough to stand on my own.”
Kay: Yes. I – I have to say that, um, it was difficult for me in my growth process to feel needy, uh, because that was something that I just skipped over. You know, of course every baby is needy, but I – I don’t remember ever feeling needy in my family, um, in those years that you really start to remember your – your history. So the avoider is emotionally detached and distant, not because they’re cold, but because they don’t have the lessons growing up to learn how to articulate what’s inside them, how to describe what’s inside them and then to tell someone else. That was foreign to me. So we have the avoider and the pleaser.
Milan: The vacillator is sort of a blend between those two. The vacillator is a pursuer also. But they have a history where there’s abandonment or where they’ve lost connection from people that were vital to them, and it created a sense of fear or apprehension. And so their quest as they enter into life is to find someone ideally who would never disconnect from them. And so they pursue. And when they – when they date, they find someone that is very much attentive, and the dating relationship is alive and dynamic and exciting. And yet, after they get married, though, that excitement begins to wane a bit. And they start to get frightened, and they start to get scared. And then they get angry. Unlike the pleaser, who would pursue fearfully or try to make you happy, the vacillator gets angry because they don’t want to feel that feeling of insecurity again. And so they pursue the other person in an angry way, which pushes the other person away and – even further. And it – it disables the very thing they want, which is connection.
Jim: Is that – again, and just to put it in a framework that someone who’s in that spot may connect with it, when we talk about a woman who puts herself in hostile relationships – you know the conversation I’m talking about. You’re always choosing the wrong men. Is that partly what you might be describing here, where you have an abusive boyfriend, abusive husband?
Kay: No, that’s – that’s more the – the last category, the controller-victim.
Jim: The chaotic?
Kay: The chaotic. For the vacillator, they – they have an idealistic view of life. Um, they deal with the pain of childhood by idealizing the future. So, “When I get married, I’m going to find the perfect person for me.”
Jim: Oh, wow. So their expectations are sky-high?
Kay: Their expectations are very high. And they don’t really realize that, so they’re easily disappointed. And that disappointment is what fuels the anger. And so they’re protesters.
Jim: What – now, let’s cover the chaotic. And we’ll get to the better, healthier place. But chaotic, then, is, uh…?
Kay: Chaotic are just folks that come from a family that’s, uh – where instead of nurturing connection, there’s actually some trauma, or – uh, there – it’s a place where there’s fear.
Jim: What is that – describe that trauma, just so, again, the listener can understand it. Alcoholic home, uh…?
Kay: It could be, um, very overt trauma like violence or sexual abuse. It could be neglect. It could be a mentally ill parent. It’s a situation in which the child needs that parent for survival, but there’s an element of danger, whether that danger is mild, medium or severe. And so there’s always trauma in the history of these…
Kay: …These – these folks. And the church is full of people from chaotic homes, because God loves them, and He goes after them.
Jim: Absolutely. And salvation is there. And I’m going to – we’re going to get to that in a minute after we cover these areas, because I want that biblical perspective on these observations. But…
Kay: That’s right. So you kind of have two categories in this kind of home. The feisty kids grow up, and they fight the system. And they get angry, and they become the controllers. And a controller is just a person who has to have control so they don’t ever feel those terrible childhood feelings again.
Kay: Um, “I don’t want to feel humiliated. I don’t want to feel ashamed. I don’t want to feel afraid. So if I have control of my world, I don’t ever have to go back to those feelings.” Now that’s more of an unconscious vow than it is really – it’s their – I don’t think they’re aware of why they need so much control. The more compliant kid survives at home by becoming, um, complacent. They hide in the closet. Um, and they learn to tolerate the intolerable. They’re more like…
Jim: They find a coping mechanism?
Kay: They don’t protest. And if – they cope by just trying to stay under the radar. And in severe cases, they’ll cope by dissociating, which means they sort of go off in their head and they can be in the room without really being present.
Jim: Yeah. Emotionally, yeah.
Kay: Yes. And so these, uh, gals or these men often become more the victims. And so they just don’t have a voice. They’ve never had the ability to really feel any self-worth or learn to stand up for themselves.
John: You’re listening to Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller. And our guests today are Milan and Kay Yerkovich, and, uh, we’re going through some of the material that they’ve captured so well in an excellent, uh, now-expanded edition of the book, How We Love. And, uh, you can find out more about the book, order it and a CD or download of our conversation at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast, or give us a call and, uh, we can tell you more – 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.
Jim: Okay. So Milan and Kay, we’ve covered, uh, four of the five. Let me just recap them – avoider, pleaser, vacillator and then that chaotic that we just covered. And then there’s probably the – what I would see as the healthier that you’ve identified, the secure connector. I like that. It communicates so much in those three words, the secure connector. Describe that, and then we’ll move ahead.
Milan: The secure connector is our goal, where we’re all growing. Any one of these attachment styles, they’re very unaware of the animating forces on the inside. We don’t – aren’t aware until we become aware, because all of a sudden we run into, as you were alluding to earlier, a problem that’s a repetitive problem over and over again. I have to stop and look at myself. I love the verse you used out of Psalm 139. It’s a very brave prayer. “Lord, show me what’s going on inside me.” When we do, we can move toward this secure connector. What does that person look like? That person is an individual who has a strong sense of self, “That I am worthy of somebody listening to me, loving me. I’m love – I’m worthy of love and care. That if I speak, somebody will pay attention to me.” They then know that the other person will be attentive and that they can often go to that person for help. They’re not afraid to ask for help.
And they find out, as a secure person, that the two of us together – “we” – will be stronger than me alone. And there is a freedom and a lack of fear, a lack of anger and a security to be able to ask for what it is they want from the other person, to have strong ability to describe one’s inner emotions like Christ did the night before He died on the cross, where He said, “My soul is distressed to the point of death. Come watch and pray with Me.” So as we look at He and His disciples, He wasn’t alone in His distress. He grabbed His closest – Peter, James and John – shared what was going on in His soul. He had vertical support with the Heavenly Father in prayer. He had horizontal support with His friends. And He was able to get through that very desperate moment.
Jim: And that’s beautifully said. When you look at this, I want to make sure the person who’s saying, “You know, this sounds a little psychobabble-ish,” I just wanna confront that. Because so often we in the Christian community struggle to say science will uncover God. I mean, this is God. He’s in it. The – the sins of your father being visited down to next generations, that is ancient language to describe what we’re talking about in modernity, that when you come from families of origin that are dysfunctional, this is what you learn.
Jim: And that’s what the scripture’s actually talking about.
Kay: It’s just sin playing out.
Kay: And, you know, attachment researchers, um – this is a 70-year-old field of research. And, yes, all they’ve done is describe patterns of sin.
Jim: Right. 70-year-old history, uh, 5,000 years of human relationships.
Kay: That’s right. And they – they just observe patterns. And so this isn’t just Milan and Kay’s opinion. This is based on scientific research. However, I – you know, many of them aren’t believers. And they don’t know that they’re really just helping us understand, where we are broken? Where does Christ need to redeem us? Because Christ wasn’t an avoider. He was emotionally connected. He wasn’t a pleaser. He could say no. He could make people angry. He wasn’t so idealistic. He said, “The world is so broken I need to die for it.” He wasn’t a chaotic controller or victim. So really, when you look at these love styles, they all fall short of Christ. And we could even think of Christ as a secure connector. You know, in terms of, uh – that’s not a biblical term. But when you look at the traits of a secure connector, they’re certainly descriptors of Christ. And I think the goal of understanding this material is to become sanctified…
Kay: …To grow, because it’s freedom.
Jim: Let’s move in the last few minutes here, because I want to talk about the combinations, which is really what you delve into in How We Love. Because in order to love, you have to have another person involved. So you – now you’re bringing all these combinations into play, and that creates yet new orbits of chaos. So why don’t you guys…
Milan: Well put.
Jim: …Take it there. Just talk about those combinations and what couples need to do to first identify who they are and then identify their spouses and say, “Okay, here’s – here’s why we’re having this conflict.” Give the combinations.
Milan: Okay. So if you take our combination, Kay’s the avoider. I was the pleaser. Now, she’s no longer an avoider. I’m no longer a pleaser. We’ve grown more into that secure connector, by the way.
Jim: So the point there is you can change?
Milan: We can change.
Kay: Oh, absolutely.
Jim: That’s awesome.
Milan: We are no longer those people. But what our marriage looked like then was, “Kay, are you all right? Is everything okay?”
Kay: “I’m fine. Why do you keep asking me that?”
Milan: “Well, because you haven’t looked at me and smiled all day. Are you okay?”
Kay: “Yeah, I’m fine. I – I didn’t know I wasn’t looking at you…”
Jim: It’s making me cringe listening to you.
Kay: “…But I – I’m good.”
Milan: “Are – I upset you somehow. Are you sure there isn’t something I did?”
Jim: I want to go run in the closet.
Milan: We’re making some people really uncomfortable right here.
Jim: I’m – I’m already – I’m like, my skin is crawling listening to this. But it’s true.
Milan: Well, of course it would. See, because that – maybe if your skin really was crawling, it triggered you somehow because – because you heard conflict. But that was a repeatable pattern right there between the two of us.
Kay: Over, over and over. And, you know, the thing – we call these dynamics a core pattern. And a core pattern is simply a descriptor of how your histories collide. Now, for the avoider and pleaser, that’s about as conflictual as it got. Um, neither of these like conflict. So avoiders don’t like it because it’s messy and emotional. Pleasers don’t like it because you might get mad at me. So we didn’t really have an honest conversation till probably the 15-year mark. But we did have that frustrating core pattern of, um, his chasing me and me avoiding him, and of course, the more he chased, the more I avoided. And when we begin to understand attachment, we begin to understand this was the root of this core pattern. My lack of bonding in my home and my avoider tendencies and his fearful home and his pleaser tendencies – that was the root, and so we began to work at the root in changing. So that was our core pattern.
Jim: How about that vacillator-avoider?
Kay: That’s probably the most common core pattern we see walk into therapy because neither one of us wanted to go to therapy, but the vacillator is the protester, and they want ideal, so what are they gonna do? “We need help. We’re going to therapy.” Now, vacillators are attracted to avoiders because avoiders are consistent, they’re predictable, they’re reliable, and initially, that’s very attractive. But when they marry and they’re with them a while, they’re like, “Hello, are you there?”
Milan: So let’s role-play that, Kay. I’ll be the avoider. You be the vacillator. All right?
Kay: All right.
Milan: Okay. “Hey, I’m home.”
Kay: “Hey. Hi, how are you?”
Milan: “Hey, where’s the mail?”
Kay: “Uh, it’s right here, honey, where it always is.”
Milan: “Okay. So I’m looking for something here that I was expecting today. Where – where is it?”
Kay: “You know what?”
Milan: “Did you move the mail by any chance ‘cause it’s not here…”
Kay: “It’s here every day.”
Milan: “I know, but…”
Kay: “But you know what? I have something super fun to tell you and super exciting to show you so c’mere. You can look in a minute.”
Milan: “You know what? You know what? Sometimes, you throw the mail away. You think it’s junk mail…”
Kay: “I don’t even want to talk about the mail.”
Milan: “…And I’ve seen you do that…”
Kay: “C’mon. I’ve been waiting all day…”
Milan: “I remember when you threw payroll away once, and this is really important…”
Kay: “You know what?”
Milan: “Kay, it says ‘bank’ on it. Now, do you know where that is? I’m looking for it. I have to…”
Kay: “Oh, wait. Wait, wait. Wait. You know what. This is not today. Every day, ‘Oh, hello, mail. Hi.’“
Jim: Oh, no.
Kay: “‘…Oh, I’m – oh, you know…’“
Kay: “‘…Oh, mail…’“
John: You know, Jim, I’m concerned…
Kay: “‘…How are you?’“
John: …I’m concerned that we just talk…
Kay: “‘…What do you have to show me?’“
John: …We just told everybody else that was still listening to turn off the radio because of the conflict we’re listening to right now.
Kay: “You love the mail more than me.”
Milan: “I’m going to the gym.”
Kay: “Good. See you later.”
John: Oh, man. What an ending.
Jim: Hey, Jean. I did not mention this to…
…Milan and Kay. I didn’t mention the mail thing at all. Oh, my goodness.
Milan: So I’m the avoider, you see? I’m task-mastery oriented. I have something I want to get to. It’s time sensitive. I was supposed to receive it in the mail.
Kay: That’s all he’s thinking about.
Milan: I’m just thinking, “I want to get that done. I’ll see you a little later, but, you know, but…”
Kay: All I’m thinking about is, “Did he think about me today? I can’t wait to show him this. Oh, my goodness. I’m so excited to see him.” Why do I not learn that he always goes to the mail first? I’ve told him over and over, but he doesn’t listen.
Milan: When we dated – when we dated it was this…
Milan: …You know, it was the pure eye-to-eye. But now that life has set in, these early attachment experiences that we’re not even aware are imprinted into us take over. They begin to drive the bus. So that would be two of the most common core patterns that we see in our offices.
Jim: And lastly, that vacillator-pleaser – let’s not – even if it’s less common, let’s mention those folks.
Milan: Well, let’s role-play that really quickly. I’ll be the vacillator. You be the pleaser.
Kay: …That sounds great.
Milan: I walk through the door. “Hey, I’m home. How ya doing?”
Kay: “(to Milan) Oh, hi. (to phone) You know what? Yeah, I know that’s – (to Milan) I’m on the phone. I got to – I’m on the phone. (to phone) Okay…”
Milan: “But you’re always on the phone when I come home.”
Kay: “(to phone) I got to go. I know. I’m so sorry. Yeah, I get it.”
Milan: “Hello? I’m home.”
Kay: “(to Milan) I’ll be right there. (to phone) Okay. Yeah, I know that’s rough, but I really have to go. All right…”
Milan: “I’m home.”
Kay: “(to phone) All right. I really have to go. All right. Bye. (to Milan) Hi. Hi, honey. How are you?”
Milan: “You always have this empathy for everybody else, but – and you always see everybody else. So closely, you see other people, but…”
Kay: “Oh, honey, it was just Suzie. You know she’s…”
Milan: “I walk through the door…”
Kay: “…Going through the divorce.”
Milan: “…And it’s blank-o. You know…”
Milan: “…It’s like…”
Milan: “…You don’t even…”
Kay: “…I love you.”
Milan: “You know, I – you tell me that, but your body and your behavior doesn’t tell me this…”
Kay: “Honey, I think…”
Milan: “Like I didn’t matter…”
Milan: “When I walked…”
Kay: “…a little early today…”
Milan: “…Through the door.”
Kay: “I just didn’t know you were going to come…”
Milan: “It didn’t…”
Milan: “…Matter when I walked through the door. I remember when we were dating, you would just light up.”
Kay: “Honey, I love you so much. How ‘bout I make your favorite dinner?”
Milan: “You’re just – do you know that it’s so dis…”
Kay: “We could go out to dinner.”
Milan: “You’re just trying to appease me now, and that just irritates me.”
Kay: “Well, honey. But don’t be mad.”
Milan: So there.
John: So there.
Jim: Now, I’m thinking how can you be a vacillator-pleaser-avoider all in the same person?
Milan: Well, I just switched roles.
Jim: No, I didn’t – I’m joking about me. I’m just seeing so much…
Kay: Okay, well you know…
Jim: …Things like this in our relationship.
Kay: …I’m gonna answer that because you just brought up a very good point. For what we were just role-playing, the vacillator’s still protesting. The pleaser just tries very hard to please.
Milan: And make them happy.
Kay: But you know, we have people all the time say, “But, I’m all of them.” And my next question is always, “Well, did you have a difficult childhood?” And they always say yes. So in my home, it worked to be an avoider. It brought peace if no one showed feelings. In a chaotic home, nothing works. You can try pleasing – doesn’t change a thing. You can hope for something – doesn’t happen. You can be the avoider. It’s still – there’s still chaos. So, you know, we just tell the people from difficult homes, “Just start with the thing you think you do the most.” And it might not be the controller-victim. It might be that you’re more the vacillator or more the avoider at this point in your life. So, you know, I think if you’re not sure, you can always go online and take the test and…
Jim: Yeah, which would be good to do…
Jim: Milan and Kay, I am so mindful. We are out of time and we have, like, ripped this Band-Aid off of a wound where we’re talking about styles and behavioral issues. We’ve got to end with the God thing which is, where do we go when we know our heart a little better now and we know that we’re not living in a place that’s as healthy as it should be? What are some of the key things we can do? You talk about soul words for example.
And folks, get the book. That’s the bottom line. I mean, this is something you should invest in so that you can have a healthier marriage, and it can be fun, but it’ll also be hard. But we’re not gonna be able to cover it all here today. But let’s end on that high note of soul words, what God intends here, how do we begin to restore?
Milan: There’s four steps. Become aware. Tell someone else what you’re aware of. The other person listens. And then ask, “What do I need?” So I had to become aware – self-aware and tell Kay, “Kay, I realize that,” and this was an answer to prayer to that Psalm 139. I pursue you and you make me anxious when you look away because I’m a fear-based person. And when I could confess that to you, you – your whole attitude toward me changed, and it – absolutely, it was a transformative moment. And then I had to – Ephesians 4 – speak the truth to her and tell her what I was really feeling. She listened to that, and then you asked me questions…
Kay: I learned to listen. I wasn’t a very good listener at first…
Milan: No. Neither of us were. But then you’d explain James 1 where we are supposed to be quick to hear and slow to speak and slow to anger.
Kay: Right. Yes, those are all biblically driven mandates.
Kay: I think, you know, the hope is – we don’t just talk about the problem in our book. The whole workbook has been revised as well. And there’s more than these three core patterns. There’s actually nine core patterns that we have in the book, and so the workbook will take each of those styles through a growth process. But in the end, what we didn’t realize is that there’s freedom.
Kay: I didn’t understand that being an avoider was like being in a prison. And as I begin to grow out of that, God gave me back my feelings. He gave me back the ability to ask for comfort and to feel comfort. And so I can’t encourage people enough. It’s maybe hard to hear a diagnosis, but with a diagnosis, change is possible.
John: What a wonderful look back at this Best of 2018 Focus on the Family conversation with Milan and Kay Yerkovich. I’m John Fuller and your host is Focus president and author Jim Daly.
Jim: Milan and Kay provided such solid relationship material on these love styles. They spoke right to the heart, which is why so many people called or wrote in response. Let me share an email we received from someone after listening to this program with Milan and Kay. This woman said: “I loved and appreciated hearing from your guests. As I sat here and listened, emotions began to spring forth. I realized that I pushed everyone away who offered to serve me, even though it’s something I craved. I do believe God inspires people to talk about how to heal and ultimately come back to the Father who restores every broken place.”
I love that God’s healing touch, John, can be found in our conversations here at Focus on the Family. That’s why we exist – to strengthen marriages and help families thrive in Christ. And it’s a high calling, and we’re honored to be here with you to bring these great messages. And thank you to those who cover the expenses to get this done. And you are as much a partner as the colleagues here at Focus.
John: Yeah, it takes the radio guests and the great team here at Focus and our partners who pray for and donate to the ministry. We can’t do this without them.
Jim: That’s right. If you haven’t given to Focus, would you consider doing so? With Christmas just around the corner, many people are experiencing difficult times. Families are torn apart by crisis. Couples are on the brink of divorce. People are facing grief or depression. And many more desperately need the hope and peace Christ can give. Your year-end gift to Focus on the Family will share Christmas joy with these families who really, desperately need it. So please, give the gift of family this year. And when you call us today, your gift will be doubled through a special matching challenge provided by a handful of generous friends. Any amount you give today will have twice the impact. You know, Focus is helping over 300 marriages stay together each and every day. And I want you to be a part of that. So give today, and help us reach twice as many people with your donation. And when you do support us, I wanna say thank you by sending you a copy of How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich as our way of saying thank you.
John: And as you could tell from the conversation today, the Yerkovich’s have some great insights. So donate today, and get a copy of that book, How We Love, and while you’re at it, get a Best of 2018 CD-set or download. You can start the process by donating when you call 800-232-6459 – 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY. Or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.
And while you’re online, be sure to check out our Christmas Stories Season 2 podcast. It’s a great way to prepare your heart for Christmas Day. Well thanks for joining us today. And next time, we’ll have our Best of 2018 programs continuing. Hettie Brittz will help you better understand your child’s personality and how God develops that.
Hettie Brittz: So we do not have the right to shape our kids unless we are willing to be shaped by God.
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