PODCAST: Do You Know Your Attachment Style? with Krispin Mayfield

by | Apr 28, 2022 | Podcasts | 18 comments

Merchandise is Here!

I’m so excited to be switching gears for a month to talk about attachment!

I’ve been reading some books in the last year, and thinking and talking to people who are super smart, and I’ve become convinced that many issues in our marriages and spiritual lives are actually about attachment.

Attachment research is the science of how we relate to others. We can all have different attachment styles, based on whether we’ve got insecure attachment or secure attachment with our primary caregivers or loved ones (or even God!).

I thought I’d begin the series we’re jumping into in May by talking with Krispin Mayfield about our attachment styles with God, which set the stage for everything else in our lives. 

Or, as always, you can watch on YouTube:


Timeline of the Podcast

0:10 Opening reminders
2:10 Our topic this upcoming month!

With guest Krispin Mayfield
3:10 The origins of attachment science
7:45 Our attachment styles to God
22:15 Shame filled & anxious filled attachment
30:45 God as a therapist?

With Keith
42:45 Research on attachment to parents vs religion
46:30 Attachment in marriage (2 RQs)
56:45 Encouragment! 

Main Segment: What Does It Mean to Be Attached to God?

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed Krispin’s book Attached to God.

Attached to God

Krispin is a licensed clinical counselor from the Portland area, and he does a lot of emotional therapy with couples to help them connect with their emotions and with each other.

But what if one of the big reasons that we can’t connect with our emotions is because we have insecure attachment styles, either because of what happened to us as kids or because of how we see God?

One of Krispin’s theories in the book is that our theology can shape our attachment. And often our theology about God–that if we feel far from God, we are doing something wrong–contributes to very insecure attachment styles.

Just a few quotes that I shared on the podcast (I’ll share more in another post!)

“Attachment science tells us how we feel in relationships. Do we feel safe and secure? Do we feel tentative or anxious? In the church, we know what we think about our relationship with God, but that can be different from how we feel about it….In most church communities, we’re afraid to talk about our insecurities with God because we feel we should not have them.”

“Then this confusing experience is made worse by the formulas we’re given by our faith communities. In his book The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren tells us, “You’re as close to God as you choose to be.” This becomes salt in the wound when we desperately want God to be close but experience only absence. If we feel far from God, we assume it’s because we’re not taking the steps, not because we don’t have an accurate map. If we don’t feel close, it must be our unwillingness to take the trek that keeps us apart.”

“Anxious attachment is a pattern of worriedly seeking closeness with God, fearing that the moment we relax, we will backslide into separation. We’re convinced it’s entirely up to us to maintain closeness with God, which means we can never actually rest with God. It’s up to you to stay close to God through prioritizing time in prayer, regular church attendance, or scheduled Bible reading.”

“Shame-filled attachment style puts us in a terrible place where we feel better when we’re distant from God and feel worse about ourselves when we’re close. Yet we need closeness, so we’re caught in a terrible dilemma. Though we long to draw near to God, as we come closer, we can see only disgust in the eyes of the Divine.”

Krispin Mayfield

Attached to God

He talks about three different styles of insecure attachment to God:

  • Anxious Attachment
  • Shutdown Attachment
  • Shame-Filled Attachment

Then he explains how we can recover healthy attachment, and get over our insecure way of seeing God. 

I found the book so freeing, as it helps us reframe what it really means to know God. 

Check out Attached to God here!

Support this Podcast with Knix Bras!

I love Knix bras. Like seriously love them. They fit amazingly well; they’re so comfortable. They look better than my underwire bras, but there is no underwire! I bought three over Christmas and NEVER wear my underwire ones anymore.

I’m an affiliate for Knix, and when you buy their bras or underwear or clothing I get a percentage. I want to make enough to start paying to transcribe this podcast! And I’m only promoting stuff I absolutely love myself.

Knix Bras

Then Keith joined me for some reader questions.

We looked at two different scenarios which originally look like marriage issues, but are likely rooted in attachment problems. 

In one, a husband refuses to work through conflict, instead declaring that he is the “head of the household” and shutting down conversation. In another, a husband is super passive and refuses to initiate or engage.

Both could be signs of a shutdown attachment style, where emotions are scary and threatening, so you do everything you can to avoid showing vulnerability. At times it looks like someone being domineering, and at times it looks like someone being passive. We can think this is all about communication, but what if it’s rooted in our attachment style? That’s what I want to explore for the month of May. How much of our marriage issues can be reframed if we understand attachment styles?

Things Mentioned in This Podcast:



Attachment Theory and God with Krispin Mayfield
Sheila Wray Gregoire

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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  1. Jo R

    Wow. From a fairly messed-up childhood to a fairly messed-up idea of God and my relationship with Him.

    No wonder I never felt that Jesus’s yoke was easy and His burden was light. No wonder prayer, Bible study, and all the things only made me feel worse about myself. White-knuckling, indeed.

    Going to get this book today.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      It honestly is an amazing book. Glad you felt this spoke to you today!

  2. CMT

    I’m gobsmacked.

    I feel like the stuff in this interview could have been pulled from my brain. Right down to the story without words thing. I’d almost forgotten about that! I’ve been trying to explain this to people (including myself) and nobody could really understand what the big deal was.

    Okay… off to buy the book.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Yes! I found that such an interesting part of the book. When you’re talking to kids who feel as if they’re fundamentally bad or wrong, it’s not because of sin (or at least not usually). It’s because of a lack of attachment and connection.

      Not saying we aren’t sinful; but the big consequence of sin is a breaking of relationship. That breaking of relationship causes so much pain. We need to address it too, because it was a big part of why Jesus came! He came so we could see how much He loves and accepts people, so much so that He would give up everything to keep connection. That matters.

      • CMT

        I’m not sure about this since I never really considered it this way before. But here’s what I thought about when Krispin Mayfield was explaining about the “black heart” page: “Holy #£*%, this theology is trying to replicate the effect of an attachment injury to make people feel like they need to get saved.” Maybe way off base but it would explain a lot I think.

        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          It really does sound like that! It’s scary. It’s like–sin is real. But so is woundedness and trauma. And how much of our feelings of worthlessness are actually caused more by the second? By what was done to us, rather than what we did ourselves?

          • Codec

            Ever read Kristin Lavransdatter?

            People can be very good at being harsher on themselves and others than they think.

  3. Codec

    You know sometimes when i listen to your stuff it helps me feel better. Yet it can also be crushing.

    Let me explain.

    I sit back sometimes after seeing myself fail or when I look at the thoughts that intrude my mind and ypu know what I hear? I not only hear myself calling myself a pervert. I see myself calling myself an unsafe man with a pornographic style of relating. I hear people like ypu in the cacaphony of voices that both inspire me and fuel self loathing when I fail.

    I feel odd. Its like the man in black sabbaths song paranoid who wants others to experience happiness because he feels that he does not deserve to but he knows it is sad that he feels that way.

    I often see porn use as being like a strange screwed up relationship. I can even rationalize why I am attracted to different fantasies and even stop myself using your words or biblical passages or C.S Lewis quotes or psychology knowledge or whatever. At the same time those very things can crush me because I fail to live up to what I know is good in them.

    I wonder if atgachment has something to do with that.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s super insightful, Codec. Seriously. I think you’d like the book. It talks so much about how God is not far from us. Psalm 139–there is nowhere we can go to flee from His presence. He is there. Maybe understanding that can be one of the big things that jumpstarts healing–that he isn’t far from us waiting for us to stop sinning to have a relationship with us, but instead He sits down with us wherever we’re at, delighting in us as He starts that relationship with us and guides us towards healing. It’s his kindness that draws us in.

      • Codec

        Kindness feels nice. Still it can feel almost sickening at times.

        I dont even want to play with my cat when I am upset with myself. I see her just being affectionate and at those times it feels painful. Its even worse imaging a person. What will they say when they see you like this? Will they despise you? Pity you? Do something they will regret so you can both feel an attachment in your own loathing? What will they do when they see more than they expected of you?

        It is not a fun question to ask.

        I figure who would want a relationship with a person like me. Well I suppose I do. I like helping folks. I like seeing people smile. Can a man like me be a hero? Well i have been a hero before.

        I like what you brought up about wanting to be presentable before trying to make attachments. Because it is both honorable and crushing. How many men do not even try because they know they can never be the person they want to be let akone someone that others might need to rely on. Do women feel the same way?

        • Sarah O

          Codec, Krispin’s book and also “Unwanted” by Jay Stringer really deal with a lot of the questions you’re posing here and also would probably help put words to some of what you’re struggling to describe.

          Yes, many women feel daunted and disempowered to meet relational expectations just like men do. I think all people have parts of themselves that they are not proud of. The challenge isn’t to be perfect, but to be honest. We believe that no one will love us “if they knew”, so we hide the things that make us unlovable. But this is tricking people into relationship and then we can never be sure if we’re really loved.

          It is true that some people will ditch us for our flaws even though God won’t. But others are willing to do the work if they know what work needs to be done.

          Scenario 1: Woman finds out after eight years and two children that her husband has been hiding his porn use from her, the entire time, from the beginning, knowing that she would object, while fradulently reaping her body and the benefits of relationship.

          Scenario 2: Woman is told on the first date that this man has an ongoing struggle with pornography. He is ashamed of it and wants it to stop. He’s reading books and working with a counselor to understand the problem and work toward being Christlike, but feels its not fair to pursue further relationship without the woman having full disclosure.

          Both men have the same problem. Neither one is guaranteed to keep the woman. But who do you suppose has a better shot? And how do you think Jesus feels about these two scenarios, knowing that both than man, the woman, and the women on the screens are all His?

          • Codec

            That was beautiful.

  4. Katy Didd

    And here is where Love & Respect and Biblical Patriarchy collide with theology, Spurgeon, and that uber-Calvinism that permeates that faction of fundamentalism and evangelicalism. It ultimatly says of husbands, fathers, and of God that “if you respect me unconditionally, I will love you conditionally.” So damaging.

  5. Andrew Wright

    Psalm 69:18 Draw near to my soul, redeem me; ransom me because of my enemies.
    Good to know David was an early adopter of the evangelical church since he prays for God to draw near. Is this how we do that?
    Here’s another point about feelings. The Mormon church teaches one to read the book of Mormon and rely on the burning of the bosom to confirm that its true. Jeremiah 17:9 says that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately sick.
    I’m not bashing anyone for finding comfort in the grace of our Lord Jesus but not once was repentance mentioned in the interview with Mr Mayfield. A reading through Romans should remind us that God’s love is evermore amazing because of original sin and human depravity in our flesh. Jesus took on flesh and died on the cross to atone so God sees His blood when he looks at us. Yes God is with us no matter what but we are called to take up our cross daily and die to our flesh. This is what makes the Gospel truly life changing.

    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Andrew, Jeremiah is not about feelings being wrong. It was about SIN being wrong. Feelings are not wrong. God expresses a whole wide variety of emotions in Scripture, as does Jesus. Emotions are not wrong at all. Evangelicalism has often preached emotions as bad, but they are not. Emotions are our sign about what’s going on in our outer world, and they’re important to pay attention to.

      If we ignore emotions, we ignore red flags. We ignore our feelings. Often God speaks to us through an easy feeling about something. So let’s not get rid of emotions.

      And in the case of children, as we were speaking at at the end of the podcast, do you really think that 6-year-olds who have been orphaned and abandoned need to be told how evil they are and that’s why they feel like outcasts? Or do you think they need to hear that God is close to them and loves them? Children who have suffered trauma feel distant from God already because of that trauma–because of sin that was done to them, not sin that they themselves have done. Often what really makes us feel far from God is what has been done to us even more than what we have done. Don’t forget that Jesus didn’t just die for what we did; He also died for what was done to us. That’s an important piece of the puzzle that you seem to be overlooking.

  6. Anon

    Super helpful podcast! I’ve learnt a bit about attachment as the Christian ministry I work for here in the UK’s parenting courses are all based on them, but never thought about how it works for to how we relate to God. Have added Krispen’s book to my (tottering)TBR pile, as it looks great. May well listen again and let this really sink in. Thanks both.

  7. Dawn Hajek

    Hi To Love, Honor and Vacuum fabulous team!
    I first “discovered” Shiela and Rebecca through their appearance on Preston Sprinkle’s Theology in the raw Podcast. Since that time, a few months ago, I have really enjoyed exploring your “stuff”…podcasts, books, YouTube videos, website..etc. This week’s podcast which is starting a series on attachment is so very exciting to me! I have been studying attachment theory, connected caregiving and the neuroscience behind trauma for a few years. My initial interest was motivated by my desire to understand the needs of the vulnerable children and families I was serving and to discover interventions and resources to offer. Over time, what I am becoming more convinced of is that this content is not just for children from hard places and their parents…it is for EVERYONE and EVERY RELATIONSHIP!
    If you haven’t already come across these resources in your attachment research, they are worth checking out:

    1. Texas Christian University Karyn Purvis Child Development Center
    2. Empowered to Connect podcast and website
    3. Tina Payne Bryson and Dan Siegel books, YouTube videos and research.

    Many wise, studied, trusted voices are bringing similar messages that speak hope and encouragement for healing and health…and it starts with understanding how God wired our bodies and brains to relate to Him and each other. God is so amazing!


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