Understanding Your Triggers

I often hear one member of a couple say that their partner’s sudden anger is the most challenging roadblock to creating a loving relationship. The couple is generally having a “normal” conversation when out of what seems like nowhere one of them explodes with anger. This leaves the other partner feeling confused, hurt, unsafe and distrustful.  The partner who has become activated is convinced their significant other, has deliberately said or done something to hurt or disrespect them.

Anger that happens suddenly and with very little provocation often has very little to do with what is happening in the moment. This type of “eggshell” encounter is when an unresolved hurt from very early in life is triggered in the present. It may seem as if your partner is deliberately trying to cause a fight. However you or they may  unknowingly be responding to past family circumstances when you felt helpless or ignored and were unable to fight back.

Ask yourself what your triggers are? What are your partner’s triggers? Examples are feeling disrespected, ignored, not heard, helpless. Start to be aware of when you have these feelings. Learn to replace the anger that surfaces with statements that identify the feeling. “I feel helpless”. “I feel ignored”.  Keep in mind that this does not mean that your partner is ignoring your or that they are intentionally trying to take away your power, however it is important to state that this is the feeling that you are having.  Together try to find ways that each of you can express yourself and learn to separate what is happening between your and your partner in the present from the past.