Being defensive in marriage can be a major relationship killer, but it doesn’t have to be! If you want to stop being defensive and learn how to respond instead of reacting, you’ve come to the right blog post.
Step One: Focus on the heart of the issue
- Focus on the heart of the issue, not the person. It’s important to remember that your spouse is not a bad person just because he or she is defensive. The best way to deal with defensiveness is by making sure that you’re focusing on what is being said, not how it’s being said. That means focusing on feelings rather than actions—even if those feelings come out in an upsetting way!
Step Two: Become a student of your own defensive patterns
- You can learn to stop being defensive.
- You can learn to be more open and honest.
- You can learn to listen more and talk less.
- You can learn to ask questions instead of making assumptions.
Step Three: Respond with curiosity instead of defensiveness.
When you feel defensive, it’s important to respond with curiosity instead of defensiveness.
Ask questions: “What do you mean by that?” or “Could you give me an example?”
Ask for clarification: “I’m not sure I understand.”
Ask for examples: “Where have I done this before?” or “When was the last time this happened?”
Ask for a solution: “How can we fix this problem together?” or “How can I make things better between us?”
Step Four: Use the #1 tool most couples don’t use enough, yet it’s an important one in any relationship – Humor!
The next most important tool to use is humor. We all know that the way to get through a tough situation is with laughter, so I say it’s time to start being funny in your marriage.
Here are some examples of what I mean:
- Use funny nicknames for each other (like “piggy bank” or “money pit”)
- Make jokes about each other’s quirks and habits (like “Your smile lights up a room when it comes on 🙂 😉 😀 )
- Tell stories from your past that will help put things into perspective from both sides
Step Five: Speaking “I” instead of “You” statements.
When you speak to your partner, it’s important to focus on what you are feeling and thinking rather than what they are doing. This can help prevent blame and defensiveness from creeping into the conversation. For example, if you are upset because of something your wife did, try saying something like:
- “I feel hurt when you don’t listen to my ideas or concerns about our finances. I think that we should sit down together every few months and discuss how we are managing our money.”
- “I felt sad yesterday when I realized that I had spent all day at work without talking with you at all. When we used to work together before having kids, I always appreciated being able to stop by your office for a quick chat each afternoon before leaving for home.”
You can stop being defensive.
Defensiveness is a normal response, but you can learn to manage it better.
Defensiveness is a natural human response when someone suggests we’re wrong or flawed in some way. We’ve all got defensive patterns that need to be addressed, and they’re not necessarily bad things. In fact, they usually come from good places: our desire to protect ourselves and those we care about, or our need for control over situations where things feel out of control.
No matter what the situation, you can learn to stop being so defensive. The first step is to take responsibility for your own behavior, and then you can start to change it. The next step is to learn how your partner might feel when they’re confronted with something difficult or uncomfortable. You may be surprised at how many angles there are in any given circumstance. Lastly, always try and use humor as a tool for deflecting conflict or diffusing tension!