Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies (2023)

Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies (1)
Being defensive blocks connection, compassion and isolates you from your partner. Instead of focusing on itus, a defensive person focusesYo-ness. A defensive attitude is one of the most dangerous signs oftoxic strugglebecause it creates endless cycles of negativity.

Can it be like this:

Schneider:You'll never make love to me again (Review)

Sofia:Well, you never take me on dates. (Stay defensive)

When I see couples like Taylor and Sophia standing up for each other, it makes me smile. They have yet to realize that they simply want more from each other.

Taylor wants to sleep with Sophia more because it makes him feel more connected to her. Sophia wants to get drunk and eat like before they had kids. Spending time with Taylor made her feel connected to him, and because of that, she wanted him more.

Defense blocks creativity. It amplifies negativity and prevents couples from accessing humor, affection, and the ability to listen and empathize with each other.

When I asked Taylor and Sophia what their partner needed, they both looked at me blankly. Instead of listening to what the other needed, they listened to personal attacks.

"Thinking based on 'who deserves what' blocks compassionate communication." -Rosenberg

alarm system defenses

You and I evolved with a defensive response that takes over when we sense danger.1

When we feel emotionally overwhelmed, our defenses are up before we even realize it. This adaptation has served humans for millions of years. It raises our heart rate and creates energy to fight or flee. Your brain is hypersensitive to any form of threat.

Even if you don't have any predators around to eat you, your alarm could still go off. Your heart rate can reach 168 beats per minute during a contentious conversation with your loved one. It's impossible to solve problems when you feel your life is on the line.

When your heart rate rises above its natural rate and adrenaline is released, your perception of your relationship becomes "tunnel vision." You start to see your partner as dangerous and you can only focus on keeping yourself safe. Your ability to hear clearly goes out the window. There's no point in communicating when you're being swamped because defensiveness is inevitable.

If you are defensive, you are denying your responsibility for the problem. You paint your partner as the culprit, and instead of your relationship having a problem you both need to work on together, you tell yourself that you're stuck with a bully you've decided to marry somehow.

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Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies (2)

9 ways to get defensive

Being defensive, even when you feel totally justified, makes your relationship problems worse.2

deny responsibility

No matter what your partner complains about, you argue that you have nothing to do with it.

  • Tina: "You hurt my feelings when you talked about my job in front of our friends."
  • Shawn: "I didn't say anything wrong."

make excuses

Instead of taking responsibility, you blame external excuses that are beyond your control.

  • Sarah: "You're late for our dinner again...why are you being so irresponsible?"
  • Chris: "There was a lot of traffic on the road."

Arguing with negative mind reading

Your partner may make assumptions about your feelings, behavior or intentions. If it's negative, you might get defensive.

  • Heather: "You're always so clumsy with the Johnsons."
  • Brenden: "I'm not. I'm perfectly normal.


You respond to your partner's complaints with a complaint of your own, ignoring what he said.

  • Joan: "We rarely go out and do things with other people. You're so antisocial.
  • Steve: "No, it's just that you don't mind letting me know if there's anything to do."

fight in the playground

Remember the old playground song "I'm rubber, you're glue, everything you say to me bounces off me and sticks to you". This childish pattern not only protects you from attack, but also blames your partner.

  • Tristian: "You never ask me about my work projects."
  • Brittany: "Well, you never ask me about my work projects."

yes collision

This is a statement that starts with agreement but ends with disagreement.

  • Jake: "We should have our talk at the end of the day over a glass of wine after dinner."
  • Karin: "Yes, we can try, but I really don't think it will work."

Ruptured Disc Syndrome

Instead of trying to understand your partner's perspective, repeat their position several times. You do it because you think it's right and you think there's no point in trying to understand your partner's point of view.

  • Alyssa: "It's great that you hit the gym during the week, but I need more help on the weekends."
  • Mason: "Well, the gym is my escape and the weekends give me more time to work out."
  • Alyssa: "Not if we have three young children who need our help."
  • Mason: "Well, if I want to get in shape, I have to go to the gym every day."
  • Alyssa: "You don't have to go every day. It's awesome when you have a family."
  • Mason: I have to go. Otherwise, I won't achieve my goals."

Both Alyssa and Mason reinforce their point without understanding why their partner is saying what they are doing. They do this in hopes that if they talk long enough their partner will eventually see the wisdom of their position and give up.


This is clear in the tone used. Typically, a phrase ends on a high note and emphasizes a single syllable at the end of the phrase. The underlying message is, “Stop bugging me. I am innocent."

physical signs

  • Fake smile (the corners of the mouth lift up, but the eyes remain the same)
  • Moving side to side like a boxer trying to avoid a punch (but not as fast)
  • Play with your neck like you're wearing a necklace

Being defensive doesn't mean you're a bad person who will intentionally sabotage your relationship. The purpose of this article is to help you identify unhealthy fighting styles so you can stop them, fix them, and address your needs.

(Speaking of repair,Check this post belowon how reparation during conflict is a superpower of emotionally connected couples)

Are you able to respond to your defensiveness?

The way your partner talks to you affects how you feel, but it doesn't determine how you react. When you choose to be defensive, you perpetuate the problems in your relationship.

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The first strategy is to stop seeing your partner as an enemy. You can call your partner defensive, but it's defensiveAlwaysa one-way street. It's rare in a relationship for a person to defend himself against everything. For this reason, it's important to carefully consider how you express your grievances and anger.

Are you alienating both your partner and yourself, or are you expressing your needs in a way that gives your partner a recipe for a healthy and happy relationship with you.

If youtry to understandand empathizing with your partner, even when you feel offended, will pull you both out of negative cycles.

Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies (3)

4 home remedies for defense

Do you remember the alarm system?

The emotional tide makes us unableavoid getting defensive. That's why it's so important to regulate our emotions and stay calm. The Relationship Teachers of Dr. Gottman's Love Lab helped you calm down while listening to your partner's negative emotions and perspectives.

This is not easy.

The power of self-comfort

If you give yourself a little pause before reacting to your partner's perceived attack, you'll be more likely to calm down. You can do this by taking deep breaths and focusing on relaxing your body.

If you have trouble doing this while your partner is talking, say this: "I'm feeling defensive and I want to understand what you have to say. Can you give me a moment to calm down so I can hear what you have to say? it needs?

Just focus on listening and trying to understand where your partner is. You don't have to agree, but you should be able to understand why you feel that way.

If it gets too loud, take a break of up to twenty minutes. The research of Dr. Gottman shows that even if you thought you were feeling calm 20 minutes ago, your heart rate is probably still 10% above your standard rate. This means it can flood again if it starts too soon. During the break, focus on the positive aspects of your relationship. If you're thinking about the negative, the pause doesn't make sense.

I also recommend creating a timeout signal that both parties agree to before conflicts arise. It makes asking for both partners much easier and keeping them on the same team rather than feeling like it's a form of abandonment.

take some responsibility

According with the doctor. Gottman simply accepting some responsibility for the problem. Even saying "you're kind of right" goes a long way toward reducing conflict.

Change your inner dialogue

You need to differentiate the current problem in your relationship from your view of your relationship in general. What you think, even of yourself, has a big impact on how you treat your partner.

Once you focus on your partner's negative traits, forget about all the traits you admire. They may adopt the attitude of an innocent victim or feel legitimate indignation. One of them set you up. By swimming in the sea of ​​your negative thoughts, you are emotionally swamped.

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  • "He bothers me."
  • "I deserve better."
  • "I never get any recognition for what I do."

When you are flooded, you cannot see your relationship or the problem. In fact, you'll miss out on 50% of the good stuff out there.3.

By stopping these negative thoughts, you can recognize that they are not entirely accurate, and you can transform them into a more realistic picture of your relationship.

Make a conscious effort to replace those negative thoughts with thoughts of compassion, calm, and empathy.

  • "Don't take it personally. You're just overwhelmed. Take it easy. Things will be fine.
  • "This really isn't about me. It's about building a better relationship together."
  • "I'm hurt and I love my partner. I need to calm down so we can figure this out together."

The most productive way to end defensive communication is to choose to have a positive attitude towards your partner. It is important to reintroduce admiration into your relationship to achieve this.

be curious

Like you, my mind is constantly telling you what's going on. It's about making assumptions about my partner and what he means when he tells me things that bother him. Communication sucks, and while most of us are good at talking, what one partner wants to say and what the other hears can be totally different.

Sometimes when I listen to my partner and get defensive, I say to myself, "What if I misunderstand her? Couldn't what I think you're saying be what you're trying to say?

It allows me to be curious about my partner's inner world. I ask him for more details about what he is feeling. I ask open-ended questions that show a clearer picture of his perspective. And then I try to reflect and empathize with them.

Then I close by asking, "Did I do it right?" I make sure he can fully understand so I don't get defensive.

How to respond to the defense

If your partner reacts defensively, avoid reacting right away. Stop for a moment and look for the desire behind your partner's harsh words. I like to think of reverse engineering Dr. Recreate Gottman's model of healthy compliance by asking myself the following questions:

  • What is my partner feeling?
  • What specific event influenced this feeling?
  • What positive need do you have?

If you are the speaker, you can also try to make your partner understand your need. Be friendly and help them understand what you need without attacking them.

When our partners hear criticism, contempt, or defensiveness, they may invest their energy in self-defense and counterattacks. But the more "we can connect our feelings directly to our needs, the easier it becomes for others to respond with compassion." (Quote fromRosenberg)

avoid defensiveness

Avoiding defensiveness is difficult when your relationship's emotional bank account is broken. In this case, partners are overly sensitive to negative news.

In fact, they can even turn neutral messages into negative ones.4.

The best way to have effective conflict is to build strong friendships outside of conflict. When couples create a feelingusdon't givehistory of us, they become experts at fixing things when things go wrong. They match their partner's needs with their own. And they come together to figure out how to love each other better. Instead of playing the blame game, peers say, “Oh, I hurt you. Tell me about it. I don't want you to feel that way ever again."

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Practice listening and speaking without getting defensive. One of the best ways to do this is through a weekly State of the Union meeting. The purpose of learning to coordinate is to reduce threats and prevent flooding so that understanding and empathy can emerge.

(I address the State of the Union meetingsin this post, including speaker and listener roles)

Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies (4)

There are two roads and I took the one less traveled

Before responding to a complaint, criticism, disparagement, or even advocacy, remember that you can choose how you respond. Your next statement is a crucial factor in whether the conversation stays healthy by voicing certain grievances or becomes destructive by being judgmental and dismissive.

Convert resiliency into connectivity

Listed below are some of the previous defenses, reworked to create connection and resolution.

Tina e Shawn:

  • Tina: "You hurt my feelings when you talked about my job in front of our friends."
  • Shawn: "I didn't say anything wrong." (Best answer: "Really? Wow. I didn't mean to hurt your feelings. Please tell me what I said that upset you.") Rather than defending himself, Shawn takes responsibility and becomes curious about his partner's pain .

Sara and Cris:

  • Sarah: You're late for our dinner again. Why are you so irresponsible?
  • Chris: "There was a lot of traffic on the road." (Best answer: "You're right. I didn't leave in time to make up for traffic delays. I know it's lonely sitting alone in a nice restaurant. What can I say or do so we can make amends." Make amends and has (What a nice evening have you been waiting for?) Instead of being abrupt, Chris takes responsibility, expresses empathy, and asks Sarah what needs fixing.

You are able to react defensively because you can choose how to react. When you respond with compassion, you improve your relationship. If you act defensively, you will be part of the reason why your relationship is on the decline.

Which path do you choose?

With love,

Kyle Benson

Did you learn a lot from this post? Here are three to read next:

  • How to Maintain a Relationship: The Love Tank Theory
  • Attachment theory explains why your relationships fail
  • Steps to Becoming an Emotionally Available Lover

This post on defensiveness in relationships was first published in 2017 but updated in 2021 just for you.

  1. Hans Selye calls this the "general alarm reaction". –the stress of life.
  2. These defenses stem from Dr. Gottman. For more information, seeThe Seven Principles for Making a Marriage Work,10 lessons to transform your marriage, jWhy Marriages Succeed or Fail
  3. Robinson and Price found that when a couple was unhappy, the partners lost 50% of the positive offers in the relationship.
  4. Robinson and pricefound that when a couple was unhappy, partners viewed even neutral and sometimes positive interactions as negative
(Video) 9 Signs Your Partner Doesn't Respect You | Mel Robbins

Defending Doesn't Protect a Relationship: 4 Home Remedies



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