Barbara L. Green, LCSW




I listened to Peter tell me about his day and as I did I felt increasingly annoyed.  He had read the paper, gone to work, stopped at the gym...a typical day for my partner.  So why was I annoyed?  I had been tense that day because of some difficult decisions I had to make at work.  In that moment as I listened to Peter, his very calmness stirred up resentment in me.  My resentment was irrational, but reptilian responses usually are...they are also a regular part of all intimate relationships.  How we cope with these responses determines the quality and tone of our relationship.

We are reactive beings, this is our nature.  Human beings experience a "fight or flight" response just as alligators do when they feel in danger.  Unlike alligators, we also have the capacity to reflect on and modify our more reptilian responses.


  • Keep in mind feelings aren't facts.  Many of us behave as if our feelings hold some sacred and universal truth...of course, our partner feels the same way about his/her feelings.

  • You always have a choice as to how to react to your partner.  Think of someone you admire...imagine that person is observing your interaction with your spouse.  Challenge yourself to behave in a way that would allow you to feel good about yourself no matter who was observing.

Become curious about your own reactivity.  If you are having a negative reaction to something your partner is doing or saying turn it into an opportunity to learn something about yourself.