What is one of the most crucial questions that New Life Live! cohost and Intimacy in Marriage speakers, Milan and Kay Yerkovich, encourage everyone to ask themselves?
The question is simple: “Can you recall being comforted as a child after a time of emotional distress?”
Although it’s not directly related to a person’s marriage, it can pinpoint difficulties they experience in their marriage and other relationships. To find out more, get a copy of How We Love.
It’s a question Milan and Kay Yerkovich have asked when speaking at workshops and to friends in everyday conversations. Anyone who wants to heal emotionally, spiritually, and relationally should ask this question.
Why is it such an important question to ask?
The answer to this question could potentially reveal more about a person’s relationships than any other insight. Realize this question refers to a time when a person was significantly upset, and a parent offered consolation. If someone’s childhood was very happy, it might be hard to think of a time needing comfort. But everyone has experienced something emotionally upsetting during their childhood—from a best friend moving away to not making a sport’s team. Whatever happened, they experienced comfort for their pain or its stark absence, which influences their relationships today.
If someone can’t recall a specific memory of being comforted, they’re in good company. About 75 percent of adults surveyed by Milan and Kay did not have a single memory of receiving comfort from a caregiver when they were young. This expected deficit causes countless difficulties in relationships.
If a person’s parents had difficulty noticing and soothing distress, they probably grew up in a family with little emotional connection. Without realizing it, their mom and dad likely discouraged expressing emotions or responded poorly to feelings. When an emotional connection lacks, one learns to minimize what’s bothering them and not expect relationships to offer comfort. After all, it’s hard for a person to expect something if they’ve never experienced it.
Answering this question does not mean that parents are the only ones to blame. Most parents are just doing the best they can with the tools they have. And parents did not receive all they needed growing up, either. The goal is not to find fault but to gain a realistic picture of what went right and what went wrong early on in a person’s life so they can begin the healing journey toward growth and maturity.
Why is answering this so important? How someone responds to this question reveals a great deal about the health of their relationships in the present. Having a secure imprint of intimacy forms healthy expectations about all future relationships.
Adapted from How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.