When our partner snaps at us, s/he is generally sending us a distress signal. That distress may be connected to an immediate need that is not being met; to a sense of being overwhelmed; to a feeling of inadequacy or of being misunderstood; or even to an old (painful or uncomfortable) family-of-origin dynamic or trauma that is being triggered.
Dr. Brent Atkinson is author of Emotional Intelligence in Couples Therapy and co-founder of the Couples Clinic in Geneva, Illinois. The Clinic is home to an innovative team of therapist/educators who have pioneered methods for improving relationships that are used widely by marriage counselors and educators across the United States.
Many of us, possibly most of us, find it challenging not to react immediately to various triggers without anger, irritation, or defensiveness. Rather than take the time to contemplate and reflect, we react much like Pavlov’s conditioned dogs. And thus we go through life, repeating the same script over and over, with little awareness that we have the choice to respond differently.