Are You In a Reactive Relationship?

The majority of the couples that come to the Marriage Recovery Center are in a reactive state of mind.

2014-07-24_1320They’ve come to a place where they are utterly stuck in a position of feeling they are right and their partner is wrong.

I see these couples as defensive, angry, stubborn, and downright self-righteous.

They act this way due to what is irritating them at their core, but are unaware of how to talk about these feelings.

They often believe that the only way for the marriage to change is if their partner changes.


As a therapist, I typically hear partners building a case highlighting how they personally are doing everything perfectly BUT their partner is a mess.

From my perspective, I essentially see two children in the midst of a tantrum standing in their own separate corners. Full of pride, they both refuse to take the first step to compromise or collaborate with their mate.

This leads to both partners feeling unloved, uncared for, hurt, and dismissed. Many are ready to be done with their marriage.

Last week I was pleasantly surprised by a couple I work with periodically for tune ups.

The wife shared with me how she had been betrayed by her husband through an addiction, and her trust had been broken. However, the vast difference with how this client handled the betrayal compared to most couples, was in her attitude. She kept extremely calm when she clearly stated that her husband’s addiction must be resolved BUT she would be by his side while he struggled through it. She treated him with respect, kindness and compassion.

This wife showed the exact opposite of reactivity. She used kindness, grace, and forgiveness with her husband.

Fortunately, it created in him a repentant heart, a sincere apology, and deep connection between the two of them.

So you may be asking how you can turn from reactive to kind.

Here are some tips:

  1. Manage your emotions. Determine what is really bugging you? What are the feelings at the core of your irritation? What do you need to ask your spouse for to resolve this issue? Speak from a calm, clear voice.
  2. Know your value. Knowing who you are and what you believe in will create a strong conviction within you. You feel a strength rise up in you when you speak from your convictions.
  3. Have good boundaries. Be very clear with your spouse about what behavior you will and will not tolerate. This includes what you will chose to do if your boundary is broken.
  4. Speak kindly. Kindness is often speaking the truth in love. Your spouse may not like what you call him/her out on, but often he/she really needs to hear this truth to come out of denial.
  5. Refuse to enter into a conversation or remain in one that is angry, accusatory or unsafe. I challenge you to put aside your  pride and strive to practice humility. Sometimes humility looks like getting up and walking away from a destructive conversation.

By practicing these tips consistently you can create a rich, connected marriage.

If you are struggling with reactivity in your marriage, we can help. We offer phone or Skype coaching and intensives for couples or individuals.  CONTACT US TODAY!