Every relationship has its ups and downs.

Every relationship has its smooth times and challenging times. I find that often my past wisdom and experience helps me communicate in ways that are mature and constructive with my wife. However, that is not always the case!

Even though I’ve been a marriage therapist for all these years and I’ve been married for all these years, I still find myself slipping up and I act out in a reactive and childish way that triggers a painful state in my spouse. And of course she has her moments as well.

So what does a couple do when they have slipped into that reactivity hole?

Since this is my annual anniversary article, (Anniversary is August 12th!!!) I will make this a little more personal. So the question is how do I handle it?

Here are six things that I do that I have found to be extremely helpful and life-changing:

#1: STOP!!! the first thing I do is stop talking as soon as I’ve come to my senses.

If I continue to talk when I’m in that state of reactivity and immaturity, nothing good will come from it.


No matter what my wife has said or done, I need to perceive her as a loving person who is having a difficult time communicating effectively at that moment. We all share a common humanity of imperfection and I need to accept that about both her and me.

When I genuinely see her as a person who is just struggling right now as opposed to some sort of imaginary enemy, my body begins to relax and my mind begins to quiet down.

#3: WAIT A LITTLE LONGER! At this time, it is beneficial to slow down just a little bit more and take some nice relaxing always remember to exhale.

I want to get myself into as relaxed a state of mind and body as possible. It is important for several reasons. One is that I will communicate with a different tone when I speak from a more relaxed place. The second thing is that I cannot control how she will react if she comes off in a way that isn’t what I would like.

By being in a more relaxed state, it gives me more patience and frustration tolerance. I surely do not want to escalate the conflict again.


If I am talking about myself then I need to be vulnerable and informing as opposed to blaming her or labeling her in a negative way. So any expression about me comes across from a more honest place.

My intention of that communication is to just let her know how I am feeling as opposed to proving myself right and her wrong or some other sloppy agenda that’s really does not lead to healing from a fractured communication.

Also it is good to let her know that I understand that she was in pain and if I’m aware of what that might be, it might be helpful to name it and let her know I am in touch with her experience.

#5: OWN MY INEFFECTIVENESS/REACTIVITY . It is very constructive and soothing for my partner to hear me own my part of the problem.

Even if I think I am a minority of the problem, it does not matter. Believe me, she probably thinks her part is also the minority of the problem and it really doesn’t matter.

A ‘taking responsibility’ kind of statement can be very soothing to her and she may take responsibility for her part as well even though that is not required and should not be demanded.

This is more about you directing the dynamic between you and it is not trying to get your partner to do anything in particular except to calm down.

#6: Ask your partner if at this time if it is okay to hug him or her or give some other sign of affection.

If your partner is not ready, then be patient and know that your partner needs some more time to process feelings and what has happened between you. And then just let your partner know that whenever he or she is ready, “I’m here to give you loveing touch.”

So this is my formula that I use in my own marriage.

The communication holes we fall into we more quickly recover from. These holes are more shallow and the ups are higher. That’s the kind of relationship I want to have and if the only price I have to pay is to give up trying to win and give up trying to be right, then I’m all about that.

Repairing a fractured communication is one of the most important things that you can practice.

No one is perfect and so focusing on repair is just as important as prevention. I wish you the best and I am here if you need some assistance with this.

Author's Bio: 

Mr. Creager is educated and trained as a Marriage and Sex Therapist and spends much of his time helping partners in long-term relationships learn how to create passionate, alive and nourishing interactions. He provides unique and powerful insights that lead to powerful breakthroughs which result in his clients getting closer to realizing their full potential.

He founded his practice in 1982 in Tustin CA, and has since helped thousands of individuals and couples learn how to bring the best out of others to achieve their goals. The biggest joy in his career is witnessing clients increase their capacity to receive more from life as well as others.

He has developed the gift of helping couples and individuals move past their resistance to have the relationships and love they crave. His specialties include helping couples heal from infidelity, helping couples rekindle passion and helping individuals break free from their earlier toxic relationships and dysfunctional families. He does this in a variety ways including specialized programs that are powerful and effective as well as seminars, workshops, speaking and informational products.

Todd’s practice in Huntington Beach, CA has been helping couples and individuals all around Orange County including Long Beach, Newport Coast, Irvine, Corona del Mar and Seal Beach – for over 30 years!