Vacillator ‘Love Style’ in Marriage Plus FMTM Linkup

Should I post on the Vacillator today, or not?

Um, sure . . . I think I will!

No, wait a minute . . . definitely not!

Well . . . maybe I should!

Just a little sarcasm to get this “love style” train chugging down or perhaps backing up along the proverbial track!

My default love style is Avoider, but I also struggle with the Pleaser and Vacillator love styles given the right circumstances and people to trigger those tendencies in me.

But today I’m talking specifically about the Vacillator’s love style by addressing what creates it (from childhood) and what the Vacillator tends to do in a marriage relationship as well.

I’m sharing insights from the How We Love book that I just finished going through with my women’s small group from my church.

Who is a Vacillator?
[bctt tweet=”People who are Vacillators love intensely, dare I say it, idealistically. Find out how to deal with this and other challenges in marriage at MM!  #communications” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

They’re the ones who look for an epic romance and/or a deeply passionate connection in their mates.

Since Vacillators love so fiercely and expect so much from their mates, they can easily become disillusioned when a spouse doesn’t match their idealistic standards . . .

Vacillators then typically react with anger whenever disillusionment occurs—trying to control their mates with arguments, manipulation and/or volatility.

If the Vacillator is married to a person with an Avoider, Pleaser, or Victim “love style,” the Vacillator’s “anger” will send these mates scurrying either for cover or into trying to appease the Vacillator whatever way they can.

What tends to create this love style in the Vacillator?
The child who developed a Vacillator love style probably enjoyed a strong connection with one parent or both. Good! Check that parenting box! 😉

This parent-child connection, in time, gets disrupted intermittently by any one of a variety of issues including: divorce, abandonment, or some other type of perceived rejection/withdrawal from a parent.

Unfortunately, “Vacillators” were imprinted in childhood to believe that connection in marriage will prove to be just as unpredictable as it was with their parent(s).

And since Vacillators use intimidation, arguing and the like to pursue (or change) their mates, they actually bring on more of the alienation they fear—throwing them into something of an unending recycling of their childhood pain. #selfsabotage 😦

[bctt tweet=”To the spouse of a Vacillator, this love-style pattern feels like: Come here, go away! Talk about confusing! Find out how to navigate this roller coaster in your marriage at MM. #communications” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

How can a Vacillator approach things differently?

  • Admit to yourself that you’re a “Vacillator” (Read the book too!).
  • Be willing to gently admit your hurts that are lurking underneath your “anger” to your mate.
  • Identify and modify any unrealistic expectations of your spouse and relationship.


What are some ways that you can relate to the Vacillator’s love style?


What are some insights you’ve gained in overcoming your “Vacillator” tendencies?


Go directly to past posts on the “love styles”Avoider and Pleaser —with the Victim and Controller posts to come in weeks ahead!

I’d love your help with my “questioning marriage” vlogs where my hubby and I (or just I) respond in video form to questions on the weekend posts. (I apologize for the lack of weekend posts lately. My hard drive failed and other personal issues have flared up preventing me from doing any! I’ll get back in swing of things soon!) You can access that brief, two question survey here. Also, you can access my survey on sexual hang-ups in marriage, where your sexual situation can be described anonymously to me. But be sure to give me enough background information to address it properly. Thanks!

I also linkup at Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Family, Friendship and Faith, Fresh Market Friday, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup.

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage


25 responses to “Vacillator ‘Love Style’ in Marriage Plus FMTM Linkup”

  1. I love the study of learning styles so this series on love styles is intriguing. I am a believer that the better we know ourselves the better we can learn to interact with others whether it is in a marriage or just in friendships. I do not tend to be a vacillator but definitely relate to the pleaser and avoider. Thank you for teaching us. I loved knowing how the love style was created in childhood as well as what it looked like in a marriage relationship.


    1. Yes, I love any type of book that gives me some handles to grab hold of or that gives me greater insight into myself and others. This love style book has really opened my eyes to some of the tendencies I have and therefore I’m more motivated to work on them positively.

      I’m sure that the Pleaser is your main style, given what you’ve shared about yourself, Mary. I think knowing these love styles can help us not only in marriage but in all of our relationships. So I hope you find it insightful, even as you’re currently single. 🙂


  2. Beth, I think this must apply to friendships too. I recognized someone I knew from my past. I think we humans are very interesting!


    1. Yes, I think it definitely does, Debbie! It was funny how it really helped to do this study in a group too, because we would recognize our tendencies in each other or see our husband’s tendencies in the other women in the group. And as we shared, it helped us to understand ourselves and our spouses better even though our spouses weren’t there! Gary and I plan to lead this study in our couple’s small group too coming up in January. It should be very interesting! Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend! Always great to see you!


  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Interesting information, Beth. I’m sure not a vacillator, but it makes some things in my marriage clearer, and barbara had a close relationship with both parents (which continued into adulthood), and I know that I disappointed her in that I am nothing like her father. Now I understand, and as Immanuel Kant said, “To understand all is to forgive all”.

    I sure hope you are feeling better, my friend. You have been in my daily prayers.


    1. Oh yes, the whole romantic part of it seems unlike you from what you’ve shared, Andrew. I bet that you see some Vacillator tendencies in your wife. I think Vacillators are often drawn to the “challenge” of trying to change a mate into a “romantic.” Thus the struggle becomes fierce–especially when that Vacillator marries an Avoider or the like. I’m so glad that you’ve come to understand your wife’s desires better and have forgiven her in those respects. These kinds of studies can be very healing if we are willing to look seriously at ourselves.

      I’m doing better–though it’s more like better week to week than day to day. I know for sure I’m much better than last month. This past week was a doozy for me, though. My hard drive on my laptop failed–was failing when your post was being published. It was a challenge to keep the plates spinning when one of them was broken! And then my oldest son has had a serious medical issue crop up and the doctors are going too slow in treating it, in my opinion. I’d love it if you’d pray for an infection to heal quickly for him so that he can have the necessary surgery. Thanks so much for your friendship and support!


      1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        Beth, first and foremost, I’ll be praying for your son, and for you. I’m so sorry you had to face so many challenges in such a short time, and it’s my prayer that God’s Holy Grace becomes a mighty wall around you.

        This series on love style is really, really great, and I think that you are doing more to help married couples than just about anything that’s been written (and I have read a LOT). You’re up there with Gary Chapman, but even there, I think your approach eclipses the ‘love languages’ in terms of substance, practicality, and potential for meaningful implementation in a marriage.

        You’re a blessing to the world, Beth, an I can see God’s Grace working through you.


      2. Regarding praying for my son–thank you so much, Andrew. I love that prayer!

        And regarding the series and your kind words, well, I think you’re “too kind.” I think our friendship is putting a little bit of bias in the mix, but I greatly appreciate you saying! Have a great weekend, my friend! Praying for you too!


      3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
        Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

        You’re most welcome, Beth!

        And there isn’t actually a lot of bias there (when I was – briefly – an academic I kinda had bias beaten out of me by a Kiwi and a German,,,bad combination). I have a shelf full of marriage books – and I read them and re-read them regularly – but most lack the consistently practical approach you offer. You’ve got the knack for giving the big picture, and then making it real through the transparency of your own personal experiences. I honestly have not seen that done as well anywhere.

        Hope your weekend is a good one, and prayers will continue.


  4. Interesting. I am as far away as that. The thing that strikes me every week is that I am so learning that we humans are a lot more complex than we give ourselves credit for.

    Thanks for hosting.


    1. Yes, it’s fascinating to me, Patrick. From what you’ve shared here, I can tell that you’re probably not a Vacillator, but I bet you have plenty of them in your life! They seem to be drawn to those who are not at all like they are. Yes, humans are indeed complex. And it’s always great to have some angles to view them from that give us a fresh perspective. Thanks for joining the conversation!


  5. Vacillator, I am not! Or, wait…maybe. No, I’m no…well sometimes…I…. LOL! In all honesty, my yes is yes and my no is no!!!! xoxoxo


    1. I bet you’re not much of a Vacillator, Susan. But there may be some folks in your life that knowing this about them might give you a fresh perspective on how to approach them. Thanks for joining the conversation, my friend!


  6. I spent a lot of years doing “recovery” work (codependency issues, child of divorce and alcoholism, wife of same) so that “come close/go away” was a term I heard a lot. So, I’m not sure I would call my love style a vacillator, or if that was more of a coping mechanism I learned. I’m gonna have to get a copy of this book. Sounds interesting. And I’m all about types-personality types, love type, etc.


    1. But the reality is that a Vacillator’s tendencies are coping mechanisms that were learned and are now a habit in that Vacillator’s life, Mary. So yes, if you can relate to the patterns described here, you may be a Vacillator–at least with your mate. That’s something that the ladies and I found to be true in our group. We often function with different love styles when dealing with others. I’m much more of an Avoider and sometimes Vacillator with my husband but much, much more of a Pleaser with my friends. It truly is an interesting book and best to go through with friends rather than on your own. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation, my friend! Always good to see you here!


  7. I always appreciate your openness here, Beth. Thanks for passing on the info from your class.


    1. Thank you for your kind words, Michele. Always great to see you in the lineup!


  8. You make me chuckle today sweet friend. Hubs and I are marriage mentors as you know and oh boy when we get a vacillator it is certainly interesting. I love how you are sharing all these different personality types. So educational! 🙂 Hope you are feeling better. Praying for you right now! xoxo


    1. I couldn’t resist a little humor with this one. The label “Vacillator” stirs so many funny ideas in my head! So are you familiar with the Yerkovich’s book–using it in your marriage mentoring? But yes, it’s challenging to deal with a Vacillator in a counseling or mentoring setting. Been there, done that. But the thing that is most interesting for me and Gary when we work with a spouse like that is how very much we can relate to the arguments that are created because of it. Gary is definitely a Vacillator and over the years, his “Vacillator tendencies” have drawn me into the fray like a moth to a flame! ha! Thanks for stopping in to comment. So glad to have you in the lineup too!


  9. I’ve never heard of this “love style” but my name, but I’m very familiar with it from witnessing the struggle of some married friends. Thanks for the helpful info and insight- will have to look into this resource and figure out mine and my husband’s love styles now!


    1. Yes, it’s a common element in marriages where arguing and volatility are present or the problem. One of both of the mates may be Vacillators. There’s so much we need to learn from the wounds of our past that impacts our current-day marriages, Bethany. I want to learn as much as I can, because I’ve seen the benefit in my own life for sure. I hope you do seek it out. It’s a great read–especially with a group of women!


      1. Absolutely, Beth! So helpful to understand how we develop and how we can grow now : ) Already taking the quiz and looking into it, thank you!


  10. Thanks so much, Gayl. I’m glad it’s giving you some food for thought. Thanks for stopping by and joining the conversation!


  11. gee, friend … I hope it’s ok to vacillate from one style to another …


    and meanwhile, how are those shingles healing? you’ve been in my prayers …


  12. I see bits of myself in each of these types. This is so interesting! I’m so sorry your computer/hard drive has had issues. Techy issues stink! Thanks, friend, for always giving me so much to chew on! Stuff that challenges me and gives me cause to look at my actions and thoughts in new ways!


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