Sarcasim, Anger, Triggers and Relationship
Okay, we admit it...
Recently the two of us really mis-communicated
about something that left us feeling angry and
distant from each other.
The situation was filled with misunderstanding,
assumptions, unspoken meanings--and habitual
responses that were more about the past than about
Since we had just gone through our "Magic
Relationship Words" book for a class we were
teaching on communication, we had an immediate
reminder of what to do and what to say to reconnect
with each other--and to find a way to understand
We're telling you about what happened to us for
First, to show you that it's "normal" to not
communicate at your best from time to time--(we
were both very tired that evening) and...
There are easy ways to either avoid those
disconnections that truly strain your relationship
or reconnect more quickly when they happen.
What happens when YOU get triggered by your
Do you get defensive and critical of him or
Do you get silent and withdraw?
Do you get sarcastic and angry?
We all have certain automatic responses that
happen when we get triggered.
Relationship researcher and psychologist John
Gottman says that an early warning sign of a
marriage in trouble is one where there's constant,
According to Gottman, in a healthy relationship,
both people feel like they can voice complaints but
the danger comes when those complaints are voiced
in anger and become consistent attacks on the
He goes on to say that criticism laden with
contempt (usually expressed in the tone of voice
and angry expression) is particularly destructive
to the relationship.
In order to create better communication and a
happier relationship, the challenge is to become
aware of your habitual response when you're
triggered--and then choose a better one.
When you make the choice to step out of your
usual way of being, you can also choose words that
help both of you open to new possibilities instead
of staying stuck in the same old path.
Here are some suggestions about how to move out
of your old communication
patterns and make other, healthier choices for
1. Get in touch with what you are feeling. In
our situation, because Susie was tired, she just
blurted out something that felt like a command to
Otto (which is something he doesn't appreciate from
Susie wasn't able in that instant to tune into
what she was feeling but later, she was.
Later, when we were discussing what happened, we
each tuned into our feelings so that we could
express what was really going on inside.
Whether you tune into your feelings as soon as
you get that twinge in your gut or tightening in
your chest (and that's something to work toward) or
you tune in later--
Make sure that you don't skip this step.
2. Find the words that will open you and your
partner to pave the way to understanding and
connection with one another.
In a difficult situation you might say something
"I'd like to talk about what happened and I'd
like to share what I felt at the time. Would you
listen to me and then I'll listen to how you
3. Take responsibility for how you may have
contributed to the situation.
What the two of us most wanted was to be
understood--and you probably want to be also when
When you take responsibility, you can see how
the other person may have reacted the way he or she
did--especially if you understand each other's
"I can see how you could have interpreted my
response as a command which is really not how I
intended it to be."
4. Be willing to learn some ways to let goof
your habitual responses that no longer bring you
want you want. We describe some ways to get to the
root of the stories you tell yourself when you are
triggered and how to tell yourself more empowering
5. Always be willing to go back to your
intentions for your relationship and your
commitments both with each other and in your
relationship. One of our commitments to each other
is to always be willing to NOT run away and to be
willing to work through any challenges we may
have--even if it seems difficult to do in the
Our wish for you is that you find ways to create
more ease and happiness in your relationships--and
part of that is creating new ways of
communicating-- even when it's tough.
We invite you to practice some of our
suggestions this week--and see what happens!
Talk to you again soon...
& Otto Collins
Other Relationship Issues,
and Otto Collins are spiritual and life partners
who are committed to helping others create
outstanding relationships of all kinds. They
regularly write, speak and conduct workshops and
seminars on love, relationships and personal and
spiritual growth to audiences all across the USA.
They are the creators of the "Relationship Toolkit"
which has helped people in over a dozen countries
improve their relationships. It includes a video
Partnerships plus two
and Relationship Success
Relationship Quotes Worth a Million
Dollars! You can also
read more articles like these and subscribe to
their weekly newsletter on love and relationships
by visiting their web site at www.collinspartners.com
Their new E-book Should You Stay or Should You
Go? has just been released and is now available
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