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AdviceLine

Bassi Gruen

Our relationship is truly a source of joy and fulfillment — the type of marriage every person dreams of. But there’s a flip side to this. Because we’re so close, a minor misstep, such as a disrespectful word, a frustrated tone of voice, an expression of disapproval, or a decision made without consulting the other, causes tremendous pain and can put us at odds for days at a time.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What you describe is so intense, and so disproportionate, that it sounds like the issues are stemming from old stuff. And if it’s only happening with a spouse, it may be that you had a difficult time watching your parents relate to each other as spouses. Ask yourself: How did my parents treat each other? What was the one thing my father did that I knew would make my mother lose it and vice versa? (Much as we deny it, there’s something like this in every home.) One of you may have had a parent who disrespected the other, and that was painful for you to witness. You now severely overreact when you feel disrespected. It sounds like one of you is having an extreme reaction and probably reacts with strong emotion, and this then triggers the other spouse. Or, it’s possible your allergies are cyclical — one spouse’s allergy triggers the other’s. Imagine you had a parent who gave the other parent the silent treatment every time there was an issue. If your spouse even mildly avoids you, it can trigger strong feelings. If a woman grew up with an alcoholic father, she may fly off the handle if her husband has a single drink. If a man grew up with a sickly mother who was unable to nurture him, he may get panicky when his wife is expecting and having a hard time coping. Try to step back and see what type of incidents set you off. What emotion do you feel each time? Then tell yourself: Something is going on here and it’s not just about my spouse. When else in my life did I feel this?Once you figure out why and how you’re triggering each other, it’s far easier to prevent it from happening. 

 

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