I’ve been talking a lot lately about emotional reactivity, “triggering,” and how it’s the bane of intimate communication. It’s the main reason couples get into the “silence or violence” pattern. Don’t talk versus talk and get into conflict. Not much of a choice. All couples need to be able to express dissatisfaction, it’s just that it’s hard to do without getting into conflict. Learning how to handle difficult emotions will help you deal with issues more productively. You’ll have a much healthier relationship and your loved ones will thank you!

New! Couple’s Mindfulness Training

12 week program that includes 6 – 1hr. couple sessions (in-office, Skype or FaceTime), mindfulness training, handouts and relationship tools and skills.


1. Turn toward your emotions with acceptance

Become aware of the emotion and identify where you sense it in your body. All emotions start as subtle body sensations that often go unnoticed. By the time we become aware of the emotion, it’s overwhelming and difficult to manage. Mindfulness practice is one the best ways to reduce triggering and overreacting.

2. Identify and label the emotion

To stay mindful, say to yourself, “This is anger” or “This is anxiety,” etc. (see feelings list below)

3. Accept your emotions

Don’t deny or “stuff” the feeling. That just keeps it “stuck” and often makes things worse. “What you resist persists.”

4. Realize the impermanence of your emotions

Even if the emotion feels overwhelming, remember that it will pass. This is the ancient mindfulness principle of “impermanence.”

5. Inquire and investigate

Ask yourself, “Why do I feel this way?” This will help you stay connected to the “functional adult” part of yourself. We’re able to think clearly and act in an appropriate manner.

6. Let go of the need to control your emotions

Be open to the outcome of your emotions and what unfolds. This doesn’t men that you get “dump” your feelings on your partner!

Feelings List:

Anger: resentment, irritation, frustration
Fear: apprehension, overwhelmed, threatened, scared
Pain: sad, lonely, hurt, pity
Joy: hopeful, elated, happy, excitement
Passion: enthusiasm, desire, zest
Love: affection, tenderness, compassion, warmth
Shame: embarrassment, humble, exposed
Guilt: regretful, contrite, and remorseful

Practice this regularly you’ll have less conflict and better communication!