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Marriage: The Long Haul


Every married couple has conflicts at times – some more than others. Why do we get so “ticked off”? Is there help in knowing what triggers us? We think there is.

First, from where do these triggers (events that set us off) come?

Can you remember a time when you had an emotional need as a child, and one of your parents or another significant adult in your life met that need, and you were comforted? If you can’t, don’t worry! Many in our workshops can’t recall a single time they were comforted.

As children, we are created to receive comfort from our parents when we have needs, this happening hundreds of times in the first two years of life. A child expresses his need for a changed diaper, food, burping, attention, change of position, etc. As those needs are met, this builds a bond between the parent and child, called “the bonding cycle.” As the child continues to grow, the bonding becomes more sophisticated with words, teaching, verbal interaction, and healthy guidance.

So, the triggers come from events that disrupted the bonding process with the parent. If those disruptions are never addressed, injuries can develop; the person becomes stressed and responds with a trigger.

Triggers reveal that something is unresolved in the past.

In our developing years, if we encounter a trauma or situation that disrupts the bonding cycle and we don’t receive the comfort we need, our emotional development is disrupted. These life experiences that interrupt our healthy emotional development can include:

  • Death of a parent
  • Active addictions of a parent (drugs, alcohol, hoarding, excessive eating)
  • Birth of a sibling
  • Premature birth (separated from parents, medical treatments)
  • Divorce
  • Physical abuse
  • Emotional abuse
  • Mental abuse
  • Neglect
  • Adoption
  • Foster children
  • Medical issues as a child
  • Preoccupied parent
  • Prevalent criticism/shaming/negative statements
  • Unavailability of a parent because of illness
  • Absence of a parent due to demanding employment
  • Absence of a parent due to deployment
  • A sick sibling that requires the parent’s/parents’ attention

Any one of these events can disrupt the bonding cycle. Once that bonding cycle is disrupted, we may develop unhealthy ways of relating, in an attempt to get our needs met.

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