Leone Centre Glossary

Attachment Styles in Marriage Counselling

Attachment Styles

In marriage counselling, understanding attachment styles can provide significant insights into relationship dynamics. This term refers to the emotional bonds and behavioural patterns that individuals bring into their relationships, impacting how couples connect and communicate.

Emotional Bonds

Attachment styles affect emotional bonds in marriage, shaping how partners respond to each other’s needs and emotions.

Communication Patterns

The way partners communicate is often influenced by their attachment styles, which can lead to misunderstandings or deeper connections depending on the style.

Conflict Resolution

Recognising and understanding attachment styles can aid in resolving conflicts within the marriage by addressing underlying issues and improving communication.

Attachment Theory

Attachment theory, developed by John Bowlby and expanded by Mary Ainsworth, explains how early interactions with caregivers shape an individual’s attachment style. These styles influence how people relate to others in adulthood, including in their marriages.

Types of Attachment Styles

  1. Secure Attachment: Individuals feel comfortable with intimacy and are usually warm and loving.
  2. Anxious-Preoccupied Attachment: Individuals seek high levels of intimacy, approval, and responsiveness from partners, often becoming overly dependent.
  3. Dismissive-Avoidant Attachment: Individuals desire a high level of independence, often avoiding attachment altogether.
  4. Fearful-Avoidant Attachment: Individuals have mixed feelings about close relationships, desiring them but feeling uncomfortable with too much closeness.

Impact on Marriage

Each attachment style brings unique challenges and strengths to a marriage. For instance, a secure attachment style typically leads to a healthier, more stable relationship. In contrast, anxious-preoccupied and avoidant styles can lead to cycles of conflict and misunderstanding. Understanding these dynamics can help couples develop stronger, more supportive relationships.

Therapeutic Approach

Marriage counsellors at the Leone Centre use knowledge of attachment styles to help couples understand each other’s needs and behaviours. By recognising their own and their partner’s attachment styles, couples can work towards more harmonious interactions and a deeper emotional connection.


What is an attachment style?
An attachment style is a pattern of behaviour and emotional response developed in early childhood that influences how individuals connect and relate to others in adulthood.
How do attachment styles affect marriage?
Attachment styles affect how partners respond to each other’s needs and emotions, communicate, and resolve conflicts, thereby impacting the overall health of the marriage.
Can attachment styles change over time?
Yes, with self-awareness and effort, individuals can develop more secure attachment behaviours, particularly through therapy and personal growth.


  1. John Bowlby – Attachment Theory. Retrieved from Simply Psychology
  2. Mary Ainsworth – Patterns of Attachment. Retrieved from Simply Psychology
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This glossary provides definitions of various counselling terms and approaches for informational purposes only, without implying endorsement or service provision