Self-esteem only holds relevance within a social context where one relates to other people. Those who enjoy healthy self-esteem behave adequately around others. They learn and nurture their self-esteem from others. They send messages that influence others’ self-esteem. Healthy self-esteem is acquired, developed, and reinforced through the influence of other people. For this reason, relationships play such an important role in the scope of human personality.
This article describes the way in which emotional links influence self-esteem. It also explains how marital success has much to do with the self-esteem of both partners.
Emotional Links of Self-Esteem
John Bowlby emphasized the importance of emotional links in all stages of early life. The development of some positive emotional links between the person who cares for the child (generally the mother) and the infant carries with it a balanced emotional life in various areas of personality including self-esteem. These emotional links not only occur in early childhood, but are also formed by the relationships that develop throughout life: school friend, family, spouse, professional colleague, and close friend, etcetera.
John Bowlby formally proposed his attachment theory in three foundational publications in London in 1957, 1959, and 1960, respectively. Based on clinical data gathered from the observation of early separation cases during the war and post-war years of World War II, Bowlby explains that a child establishes a strong emotional link with its mother (or primary caregiver) not only because it receives food and necessary physical care from her, but because it receives love, care, and consideration.
According to Bowlby, this search for relationship not only consists of a need to satisfy physical and emotional needs but is really an innate instinct. From infancy onwards, a human being tends to look for attachment links throughout the rest of his or her life. These provide a general sense of emotional balance and healthy self-esteem. On the contrary, lack of these emotionally-satisfying links cause psychological deficiencies and low self-esteem. In extreme cases (for example, the lack of maternal love before 5 years of age), it can cause psychological, psychosomatic, and psychosocial disorders.
From this we can see the importance of relationships with others during the time of acquiring and developing adequate self-esteem.
Self-esteem develops, is nourished and is displayed differently in men and women. This distinction can help couples to understand and support the development of their own self-esteem and that of their spouse.
Self-Esteem in the Couple
We often meet couples like Cecilia and Frank. After ten years of marriage, they faced a crisis. Although everything seemed full of romance and fine in the beginning, the relationship soon entered a stage of routine and boredom. Frank, absorbed with work, was occupied trying to earn promotions and Cecilia was busy with the children and home responsibilities. Although their economic power increased as each day went by, Cecilia complained that her husband worked too hard and that he was never home.Unlike when they were dating and married, he no longer spoke words of love and appreciation for her. This made Cecilia feel very frustrated because she believed marriage to be a state in which the couple reached the height of happiness. But Frank had a pragmatic view of marriage. He was obliged to work and provide the material needs of the family while his wife was expected to keep the house in order, the children well attended, and maintain a smile on her face during sexual relations.
Apart from Frank’s old-fashioned views, the reality was that the root of the problem affected Cecilia’s self-esteem.
She saw herself as undervalued, a maid without salary, a sexual object, intellectually stagnant, a slave to her domestic duties who was gaining weight with each passing month. Because they both wished to save their marriage, the couple overcame this hurdle in their relationship. Motivated by the advice of a good friend, Frank began to notice and comment about the work that Cecilia did. He began to take her out again, to surprise her with gifts, to remember and celebrate small accomplishments and to reestablish romantic love within the relationship. As a result, Cecilia stopped feeling sorry for herself and began to enjoy homemaking while making plans to rejoin her profession in the mid-term. The root of this progress was to be found in Cecilia’s self-esteem: it had been restored thanks to a change in her husband’s attitude.
The problem of self-esteem is, then, the cause of many marital conflicts. However, we can also say that the opposite is also true: when both partners enjoy healthy self-esteem, the couple has a high chance of emotional success. Here are the benefits of healthy self-esteem within the couple:
* Balanced marital relations. Self-esteem and emotional balance within the relationship are intimately related. This causes a general sense of optimism within the relationship with fewer fights and discussions.
* Better communication. When healthy self-esteem is present, each partner understands and is understood as a united team. This protects them from problems that can cause unhappiness between them. Selfesteem affects not only verbal but non-verbal communication, as well.
* Less vulnerability. A person with low self-esteem is very sensitive to the comments (and even looks) of others, including the spouse. However, am adequate and balanced self-concept causes the person to be stronger, more secure, and more self-assured when faced with outside criticism.
* Less worry about oneself. The person with low self-concept lives preoccupied and fearful due to insecurities about self. Within the couple, this person has an insatiable need for love and doubts the love of the partner is real. On the other hand, those possess balanced self-esteem do not need to focus on slef but can recognize their own ability and possess the necessary resources to confront the challenges that come their way.
The relationship between self-esteem and happiness within the couple is a concept widely accepted today since there are multiple studies that confirm this.
A man’s self-esteem through:
~ Engagement in his profession or trade.
~ Relationships with professional colleagues, superiors, and subordinates.
~ Intellectual capacity.
A woman’s self-esteem through:
~ Family and home (also through her profession when this is present).
~ Family relationships and friendships.
~ Physical attractiveness.
The most notable differences between men and women is that of the professional environment (more marked in men than in women) and physical beauty (which affects women more than men).
-Dr. Julian Melgosa