Are you tired of fighting all the time? Do you feel as if you are constantly stepping on each other’s toes? Does your partner shut down when you try to talk with him/her and you don’t know why? Do you want to know how to stop fighting in your marriage?
Avoiding Triggers Reduces Conflict
Everybody has “hot buttons.” Those are the vulnerable spots each of us has that, when “pushed,” make us completely crazy. It’s extremely important to know our own and equally important to know what words or expressions tend to generate strong reactions from our partner. Learn them, respect them and, where possible, avoid them.
I call these triggers. These triggers are typically caused by painful and/or threatening experiences from the past and can cause you or your partner to strongly react. Knowing these triggers and avoiding them altogether can go a long way toward keeping your discussions pleasant and productive.
On a personal note, my trigger is the word “Relax.” Don't tell me to relax. Nothing makes me more instantly and irrationally irritated than to be told to relax. I find it dismissive and condescending. For my husband, however, don't roll your eyes. For whatever reason, based on everything that's happened to him before he married me, he reacts very negatively to eye-rolling. We know this about each other and respect it.
Every person has their own trigger words or behaviors that can make them instantly angry or unhappy. People react this way most often because these words or behaviors cause them to feel a real or perceived threat to their competence, worth, independence, or desire to be included.
Some of the most common triggers I hear in therapy are terms like “lazy,” “controlling” or “bitchy.” Many of these types of trigger words feel like name-calling to the person who hears them. Often the person saying them doesn't admit that they're name-calling because it's not technically profanity. But in actuality, any judgmental word we use to describe our partner is name-calling and unacceptable, period.
Now that you know the power and impact of triggers, talk to each other. Figure out what your and your partners' “hot buttons” are and do everything you can to respect and/or avoid them.
To learn more about how to stop a fight using our online videos and downloadable exercises, check out our StrongMarriageNow System.
Do you and your partner know each others triggers? Tell us about them! Please comment below.
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Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com