As the Houston relationship counselor, I deal with defensiveness a lot in my clients, and it’s certainly not the first time I’ve spoken about it in this blog. When one or both people in a relationship are defensive, it can cause huge marriage problems. Some people get so fed up with their partner’s defensiveness that they even decide to end the relationship.

Houston Relationship Counselor: Explaining Defensiveness

Unfortunately, defensiveness is incredibly pervasive. For most of us, it’s so deeply ingrained that we can’t just flip a switch and turn it off. In fact, it’s our defensiveness itself that’s more like flipping a switch. When we feel judged, it gets our hackles up, and we simply react instinctively by becoming defensive—it’s a way of protecting ourselves.

The problem is that defensiveness quickly moves from a protective maneuver to one that lashes out in order to protect. In other words, defensiveness isn’t just a way to keep ourselves from being hurt or blamed, but a weapon that we can use against others to deflect their anger and keep them off balance. How do we do this?

Casting blame. What’s the quickest way to deflect blame away from yourself? Cast blame on your loved one. It doesn’t matter that the thing you’re blaming them for has nothing to do with the current situation, because they have no right to be calling you out for something when they were wrong that one time.

Starting fights. What’s their problem? Why do they have to be such a jerk? They’re just mad at you for some unrelated reason. Maybe they’re jealous, stressed out, or otherwise just not in a good mood and taking it out on you. And don’t they realize their just acting like their parents?

Aggressive denial. That is not how it happened and you are so sick of them twisting your words and actions in this way. Why do they keep hearing and seeing what they want to see? Are they just trying to start a fight with you?

Don’t Let Defensiveness Ruin Your Marriage, Says Houston Relationship Counselor

It’s also important to know that defensiveness is normal, in all relationships but particularly in marriages and committed love relationships.  You should allow yourself to feel it and to dialogue about it rather than leaving associated thoughts unexpressed and then acting out.  When acted out, the natural defensiveness can become abuse of your partner.

Re-imaging the Wounded Child in your partner feeling defensive can lead to a request for or an invitation to dialogue about what is causing the defensive feelings and thoughts. If you feel like you just keep spinning your wheels and not moving past it on your own, don’t be afraid to talk with the Houston relationship counselor for help