Why Does Not Loading the Dishwasher Turn into Such a Big Fight?

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As humans, we all have raw spots, or areas of sensitivity, that come from our temperament and our life experiences. In adult love relationships, your personal history with key caregivers, usually your parents and past romantic relationships, influences how you perceive situations with your partner or spouse now, especially when your partner or spouse does something to remind you of a key moment or a series of experiences in your life when you were hurt, betrayed, or abandoned by a past key caregiver or relationship. 

Ask yourself the following questions to see if you have one or more of the following sensitivities:

  • “Do you worry a lot that your partner will leave you or die?”
  • “Do you feel desperate when your partner pulls away from you?”
  • “Do you expect that it is only a matter of time before your partner betrays you?”
  • “Do you try to hurt your partner before he or she can hurt you?”
  • “Do you feel like your partner doesn’t really understand you, isn’t really connected to you, or withholds warmth and affection from you?”
  • “Do you expect your partner to know what you need without expressing your needs, then become disappointed or angry when he or she fails to meet your expectations?”
  • “Do you believe that your partner wouldn’t love you if he or she knew the real you?”
  • “Do you look down on people who admire you, or who accept you?”

A positive response to any of the above questions indicates an area of sensitivity for you in your marriage or love relationship.

You did not choose your areas of sensitivity you are influenced by. Because we are all built to survive, when your brain perceives something in your present relationship that feels like a similar danger from your past, an alarm goes off in your mind to protect you from the possibility of getting hurt again. This would be similar to when a child touches a hot stove, and soon learns never to touch a hot plate again. However, if the child was four years old, when she becomes an adult, she may not remember the experience of getting burnt on a stove. However, her mind does not forget this danger, as maintaining this association saves her from the possibility of getting burnt again.

Share Your Experiences

Do you know when you're getting activated by a sensitivity or raw spot in your marriage or relationship? Most likely it is when you either get intensely upset emotionally, or when you notice going numb and being detached. Do you know when your partner or spouse is activated, and what the themes are to those activations? Have you found anything helpful to calm the part of you that gets so upset? Share your experiences, and ask questions from others to help our community strengthen marriages and love relationships. You can also read more about areas of sensitivity in Sue Johnson's Hold Me Tight, a self-help book from the creator of Emotionally Focused Therapy; in Jeffrey Young's Reinventing Your Life, a self-help book from the creator of Schema Therapy; and in John Gottman's Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work, the creator of Gottman Method Couples Therapy.

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