What are the Triggers in Your Relationship?

My husband and I had a conflict the other day. Hard to believe, I know, since I’m the queen bee of messy marriage! So I asked his permission to share a generalized version with all of you.

Maybe you can learn from our mistakes …

PoppedIt was dinnertime and my son inadvertently interrupted me. So I corrected my son. My husband didn’t notice it, nor did he support me like I thought he w/should.

I interpreted this as my husband siding with my son. So I confronted my husband in front of our boys (wrong move to do—so I’m not endorsing this, just saying). I guess I should’ve referred to my own words, 8 Questions – Knowing When to Confrontimagine that!

In hindsight I realized just how many “triggers” were being set off. Now, triggers are issues that we become overly sensitive to, because we’ve not dealt sufficiently with the crux of the problem. They are a lot like an overblown balloon. But I am the one who’s responsible for how full that balloon gets. I need to release the air in my “overblown balloon” before it “pops” by:

  • Working through any unresolved conflicts.
  • Praying through and letting go of bitterness.
  • Talking through these “triggers” more fully with my hubby.
  • Trusting God to be my Protector in future encounters.

Obviously, I still have a lot of work to do! But I’m bringing up the issue of “triggers” because they are important indicators that both you and your spouse need to pay attention to. Here are just a couple examples of the triggers for me that were present …

Trigger #1 – my son interrupting me:
This trigger developed because this has been a recent and recurring problem, so I was feeling raw and perhaps more angry than I normally would be. 

Trigger #2 – my husband not supporting me in front of our son:
My husband and I have agreed in past conversations to always (no matter if one of us is acting wrong) side with each other in front of the boys and talk about the “problem” later when we aren’t in front of them—presenting a united front.

Later and in private, my husband and I talked through this problem and were able to take responsibility for how we mishandled it. We exchanged apologies, gained greater clarity on each others’ feelings, and made a plan (individually and as a couple) to better handle this type of situation going forward. I felt relieved. I felt like I’d let air out of an over-blown balloon.

How about you?

What triggers or underlying issues are active in the conflicts you have with your spouse?

Have you paid attention to them, analyzed them, worked through them to “let the air out” and lessen their potency? 

If so, what have you discovered that you need to do or change to move forward?

It’s worth evaluating and reassessing a plan or you’re bound to repeat the mistakes of your past.

“He who covers over an offense promotes love, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends.” Proverbs 17:9 (NIV)

“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.” –1 Peter 4:8 (NIV)

photo by AMagill


Linking up with – NOBH, Monday’s Musings, Making Your Home Sing Monday, Matrimonial Monday, Playdates with God and Marriage Monday’s


  1. Delora Peters says:

    Stopping by from Marriage Mondays link up. Great post! Knowing our triggers can really make a difference in the way we communicate. I know that telling my husband he does not do as much as I do, is a trigger so I try to approach him differently and use encouraging words.

  2. I love your analogy about the balloon and our being responsible for how full it gets.

    We always tried to represent a united front too, but it’s easy how misunderstandings creep in.

    One time my husband sighed (because he was tired) but I thought he was sighing because of something I said to my son. We were in the car and he was driving and he hadn’t even heard what I had said, yet I was annoyed with him because of what I thought that sigh meant, lol!

    Thanks for linking up to the “Making Your Home Sing” linky party today! :))

  3. Ugochi Jolomi says:

    Most times when I am tired I get triggered easily. So I try not to work myself too tired and even when I do I talk to myself when I sense the trigger bubbling up. Thanks for sharing and have a super blessed day!

  4. Nancy Sturm says:

    It took me many years to understand some of those triggers. Unfortunately, I still can let that balloon inflate. Thanks for the post.

  5. When I’m thinking too much and stressed, I triggered easily. I am so aware of it that at one point, I feel disappointed about my actions. I right away tell my husband that I am sorry. Knowing our trigger plus praying over it with my husband makes a difference.

  6. Great post on those triggers we need to be more aware of in our messy marriages. Your blog is so inspiring – love reading your insight as a fellow wife in Christ! Thank you for your sweet comment on my blog today. It was just the inspiration I needed!

  7. My own triggers come from my feeling that my needs don’t matter. That is one of my core lies. In my wife, I call these landmines because I usually don’t see them coming.

    One thought on your post, what is the underlying reason for not wanting your son to interrupt (other than good manners)? This is a trigger for me and it spins me to a place where I feel dismissed and causes an angry reaction.

    Here is a little vulnerability from my own marriage:


  8. The overblown balloon is a great visual for me, Beth. And I can relate to both of those triggers. I’m definitely triggered when I feel disrespected (in whatever form it takes–from child or spouse). But I need to deal with all my hot air first before I pop on someone else. Thanks for your great advice.

  9. Heather C says:

    Nice analogy with the balloon! Especially since when I am ‘triggered’ I tend to pop. Wonderful post.

  10. hmmm, we all have those little triggers don’t we? I love the analogy with the balloon too, makes a lot of sense.

  11. Stopping by from Playdates. I like the balloon analogy. I need to remember that!! Roz – alittlerandr.org

  12. Whoa. I needed to read this, Beth. This has been happening way too often, and oh yes, I have lots of triggers. Unresolved issues really get us, don’t they. Thank you for being a kind voice of wisdom in this season we are in. You help so many when you don’t realize. Love to you….

  13. Yes, it really does make a difference, Delora. And you bring up another great point: it’s important to know our spouse’s triggers too. Thanks so much for stopping by and weighing in. Nice to meet ya!

  14. Yes, all sorts of messy communication can go on when triggers are set off or tone/body language are added to the mix. I sure wish communication was easier! lol! Thanks so much for coming by, encouraging me and inviting me to your linkup, my friend!

  15. Oh, I completely relate, Alicia! I am not in any form to try and communicate past 9 p.m.! And the verse about “not letting the sun go down on your anger” I feel is more about dealing with your issues as soon as possible, than a hard and fast–do it before bedtime! Thanks so much for your sweet encouragement, my friend. And I’ll let my hubby know of your thanks for his part too. 😉

  16. It’s just so important to not only be aware of the triggers in our relationship but also our limitations, Ugochi. You bring up an important point. Thanks so much for adding to the conversation, my friend. You have a super blessed day as well. 🙂

  17. Yes, I’m still trying to identify all of mine, because some of them change over time or are different depending on who I’m dealing with. Bug I’m glad that you’re aware of yours, Nancy. That’s just so important. Thanks for your kind words and for stopping by to weigh in on the topic, my friend!

  18. Dear Beth
    This sounds like a very healthy marriage! I always say we have marital problems when we never have arguments. I love the way you guys solve the problem. Since I have Fm/CFS, many things can trigger a pain response in my body. One of those things is noise and people talking. So when hubby comes from work, I ask for extra, extra grace not to be irritated when he chats to his heart’s delight about his day at work.
    Blessings from Laura’s.

  19. I’m glad to hear that you deal with it immediately, Mai. Then, of course, praying with your spouse can also bring the peace and grace that we all so desperately need in those kinds of situations. Thanks for adding some great insights, my friend!

  20. Thanks so much, Kim. I’m glad to see you came by. We’ll have to keep up with each other from now on. I appreciate all the bloggy friends I can get! And thanks to you for encouraging me as well.

  21. Awww, sounds like you’ve had someone treat you in your distant past as if you don’t matter. Is that right, Scott? I’m glad you’ve recognized it and have dealt with it over the years. Triggers truly are like landmines. It’s often hard to predict when they’ll occur but doing an evaluation during or right after can help to bring perspective and clarity.

    Yes, it was mostly about teaching our son good manners and to respect his elders. He’s old enough by now that this shouldn’t be an issue, but he has struggled in this area, not just with me but with my husband too. In other words, it’s been an ongoing/recurring issue that has added frustration and worry to my side of things. I sure don’t want him launching into adulthood with the idea that he doesn’t have to treat those in authority or elders with respect and care. I think anything that hurts us from our children can be much more painful than from the average person. Thanks so much for coming by, Scott!

  22. Thanks so much for your kind words, Lisa. I always look forward to seeing you here in this place and value your words highly. Hugs to you!

  23. I’m glad you liked it and found it helpful, Heather. It’s an area that I’m trying to be more intentional and aware of. It really has helped to deconstruct these kinds of conflicts and find a better way to handle it the next time. I truly appreciate your support here, my friend!

  24. Thanks for stopping by, Roz. I’m glad you found the analogy helpful. I always like some kind of visual. It’s gives staying power to whatever step I’m trying to tackle.

  25. Your words humble me, Nacole. Thank you so much for coming by and being, not only vulnerable in your comment, but so encouraging to me as well. I truly appreciate it, my friend!

  26. You’ve nailed this one and I’m so happy you’ve shared it! I have definite triggers but somehow I’m able to keep them in check just fine in my marriage (but not always with other people). When I am rushed, I have a lack of patience. I know that not planning well and running behind (the trigger behind the trigger :)) causes me to be rushed (the actual trigger) and being rushed causes me to have less patience and grace with others I encounter. Knowing my trigger and working towards always making sure I give myself more than enough time has really made a difference (although I still have a long way to go).

  27. OutnumberedMom says:

    We do this…all of it. The triggers, the misunderstanding, the less-than-united front sometimes…and we, too, analyze and talk it out. Reading this and thinking back on that, I’m thankful for a husband who will talk, for the gift of dialogue we’ve been given. And I wonder, “How do women whose husbands don’t want to talk about things do it?” My prayer as a mom is that my boys will always be willing to “talk it out.”

  28. You are so right, Mia! That’s one of my pet peeves–thinking that healthy marriages don’t have arguments, that is. I think it just might be the other way around! And yes, I totally understand since I have RA. When I’m flaring, more than just my joints get hot! haha! It’s great that you and your husband have an understanding about these kinds of times. That’s exactly what I’m trying to say here, and “do” in my own marriage. 🙂 Thanks so much for coming by and encouraging me!

  29. This concept of triggers is so important to revisit again and again, Beth. Because just when I think we have it all worked out, some new ones arise. So I can be guilty of always feeling like we are in the assessment stage and never really addressing it completely. Thanks for encouraging me to do the hard work of going deeper.

  30. Dear Beth
    I am so sorry to hear that you have RA. I know it is a very painful disease. I will keep you in my prayers.

  31. Thanks for sharing this Beth. I love the four steps/ways you’ve shared to release an overblown balloon. I love how your posts are so often timely for me! I’ve been processing a trigger this week and I was so sorely tempted at first to only see things my way and not to process deeper. But the Holy Ghost does not relent : ), so I’ve been on process mode. Still got areas to cover and am grateful for this post that spells out and reminds me how and what i need to deal with. Thanks so much, you are a blessing to me!

  32. Thanks so much, Fawn. You bring up a great point that sometimes it’s not our spouse that triggers us most. So we must be aware of how they can pop up in all sorts of situations/relationships. I’m glad to know you’ve already given this some thought and created a strategy to avoid potential pitfalls. Thanks so much for coming by and, always, hosting a great link up at Happy Wives Club!

  33. Yes, Laura Lee, having a spouse who’s willing to talk through these painful and sticky issues is a huge blessing and can really aid in the smoothing out of future problems and triggers. I hear ya about how other spouses may not have this blessing in their own spouse. It’s really so sad because that spouse who won’t talk about these kinds of issues often wants to be heard the most. It takes a lot of courage to listen, receive and do what’s being asked–but it’s so very worth it!

  34. I guess, being in that assessment stage is simply a part of life–unless you want to live in the land of “denial!” haha! In my experience, it’s been a good thing, albeit painful at times, but God is so good to reveal to us in our darkest and most confusing hour. I’m glad you were encouraged by this, Laura. I love seeing your face here in this place!

  35. Hmmm, saw yourself, you say? Well, I feel that way about your blog sometimes too. Although, I have to say you have sooo much more wisdom and self-control than I had when I had young ones under feet. I’m glad you thought this was helpful, my friend. Always great to see you!

  36. I’m so glad that you feel this gives you that added perspective, Ngina. Isn’t it amazing how God weaves our teachings and influences together to help us grow deeper in Him? Because I feel encouraged and enlightened by your blog as well. I’m so grateful to be one of his vessels and love standing next to you in the effort to arm married couples with God’s truth! Thanks so much for stopping by and I hope to see you at Wedded Wed (tonight/tomorrow)!

  37. Another wonderfully honest post, Beth. I am finding that

  38. I always go into way more detail than my husband wants when he asks a question, Gail. Our poor guys! All they really want is a simple answer, just the facts or whatever. But I thrive on sharing my feelings, observations or even the color of the drapes that was in the room at the time! haha! Hang in there, sister! We’ll get this marriage thing figured out one day! Thanks so much for the sweet words, my friend!

  39. rboerner says:

    My trigger is when a negative comment is made about my relationship with Christ. I tend to get defensive! I am learning that God is pretty big and I don’t need to defend but remain calm and allow God to work

  40. It’s always so hard to keep our mouths shut when the ones we love the most are insulted or questioned. But you are so right about our God, Becky. He truly is able to fight His own fights and work in His own way. Let’s keep on holding each other up in prayer and someday I’m certain we’ll get this surrender thing down. 🙂