Attachment injuries in couple relationships: A new perspective on impasses in couples therapy

An attachment injury occurs when one partner violates the expectation that the other will offer comfort and caring in times of danger or distress, and is characterized by an abandonment or by a betrayal of trust during a critical moment of need. This incident becomes a clinically recurring theme and creates an impasse that blocks relationship repair in couples therapy. The injurious incident defines the relationship as insecure and maintains relationship distress because it is continually used as a standard for the dependability of the offending partner. Personal factors might be previous specific experiences of betrayal, for example sexual abuse in childhood tends to make issues of trust and dependency particularly problematic and the nature of working models of self and other in general.