Many of my Houston marriage counselor clients complain about having “reactionary” spouses, though most of them probably wouldn’t phrase it that way. What is a “reactionary” person? They’re the type who open the electric bill and are so shocked that they call you to yell about how the family needs to stop watching TV, get new windows with better insulation, and look into switching to solar power. Never mind the fact that the real reason the bill was higher is because there was a heat wave and you had relatives staying with you for a week.

The thing that you don’t want to do if you feel like your spouse is overreacting is attempt to ignore their fears and move on to a different subject. This makes them feel dismissed and like you’re not taking them seriously. Instead, you’ve got to have the patience to sit through it and show understanding.

Houston Marriage Counselor: Your Job Is to Be a Sounding Board

Most spouses could probably weather this storm pretty easily. In fact many might label it more of a drizzle than a real storm. But the problem is that, with reactionary people, these little moments happen again and again, and over time, they can eat at the person who has to listen to them as well as the person who doesn’t think his or her spouse is taking their fears seriously. Eventually, it can lead to couples who stop talking to each other or fight all the time and clearly need relationship help.

What non-reactionary people don’t always understand is that most often their spouse has no intention of going through with any of the plans. They just need to work their way through the emotions they are having and they are using you as a sounding board.

This can be frustrating for people who tend to solve things internally. They tend to take what their spouse says seriously and often feel like they should offer solutions or reasons why they don’t need to go overboard to fix the problem, but this is another mistake. Your job is to listen and kindly and calmly bring up the reasons why the issue occurred without making it seem like you’re arguing against them.

The other side of the equation, though, is that reactionary spouses have to understand that, when they “catastrophize” events, it can put unintended stress on their partner. When they realize this, many people find ways to reign themselves in and be more objective – or at the very least, find another sounding board!

If you still find yourself fighting so much that you need relationship help, contact the Houston marriage counselor.