Taming Triggers in Your Marriage and Life Plus WW Linkup

Taming Triggers

You’d think that after almost 29 years of marriage, my hubby and I would have tamed all of the “beasts” that arise from the moments when our wounds are triggered … but you would be wrong! 😉

I think it’s sort of like the apostle Paul’s “thorn” that God did not remove from his life to keep him looking to Christ to fill his weaknesses with Christ’s strength.

[bctt tweet=”These thorny marriage issues keep us humble, motivating us to look to Christ for His strength! Find out what they are at MM! #humble #Christ 2 Corinthians 12:9″ username=”BethSteffaniak”]

As I mentioned last week, one of the first steps we take to tame these triggers is to identify them. If you want to read some examples of triggers in my marriage, read last week’s post here.

Here are the steps my hubby and I take …

Step one – admit you’ve been triggered

You don’t necessarily want to admit this to just anyone. I’m speaking in terms of triggers that occur in marriage. Make a commitment to talk ahead of time about how you want to handle admitting triggers when they occur. Remember, it must be respectful and not spoken in blame like, “you triggered me again!” Unless, that is, you like riding with your mate on the “crazy cycle!” 😉

And if you and your mate are not handling conflicts well, then choose to admit you’ve been triggered to God instead of immediately admitting it to your mate.

Either way you admit it—to your mate or to Godrespectfully ask your mate for the chance to calm down, think through and pray about how you feel before trying to discuss it together.

Step two – identify triggers

The best time to identify your triggers is soon after a conflict or whenever strong, negative emotions arise—especially from out of nowhere. You might want to keep a notebook handy to jot down what you felt and a brief description of the conflict/situation to refer to later. Then you can come back to your list at a time when you’re ready to pray and process.

step three – pray and process triggers

1. Ask God to give you insight into what this over-the-top response is related to. Most often, there is some childhood wound you can identify. If you can’t trace it back to childhood, consider a more recent wounding that has occurred.

2. Ask God to give you insight into what you felt when you were originally wounded.

Did you feel worthless? Like a failure? Controlled? Humiliated? Abused? Ignored? Devalued? Left-out? Objectified? etc.

Here’s a prayer and processing tool that my husband and I use, especially when our triggers erupt into conflicts between each other. (You’ll also be able to use this, later on, to talk with your mate in a specific and empathy-building way. So stay tuned for more instructions!)

3. Ask God to help you forgive those who’ve wounded you in that way. This will probably need to be a daily commitment to ongoing prayer and forgiveness …

Because …

[bctt tweet=”Though forgiveness is ignited by a decision, it also requires a daily and ongoing surrender of our hurts to Christ. #forgive #prayer” username=”BethSteffaniak”]

Next Wedded Wednesday, I’m excited to share a guest post from Debbie W. Wilson of Refreshing Faith along with a giveaway of her new book.

I will continue this series the following week with some biblical and relational insights, as well as more free tools to use in this important process toward healing.

Speaking of free tools, don’t forget you can snag my free ebook, Forgive U by subscribing (in the sidebar) to Messy Marriage! Easy peasy! 

Click the link for more posts in my series, Triggers in Marriage.


What hesitations do you have in working together with your mate to identify and process triggers?


What is one trigger that you’ve already identified that tends to erupt at all the wrong times?


Joining with my friends at Giving Up on Perfect, Wifey Wednesday, A Little R & R Wednesdays, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, DanceWithJesusFriday and Wholehearted Wednesday.

Join our Wedded Wednesday Linkup!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to Wedded Wednesday or Messy Marriage as well. For Wedded Wednesday guidelines and buttons, click here

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29 responses to “Taming Triggers in Your Marriage and Life Plus WW Linkup”

  1. Beth, I like all of your steps, but step one really resonated. When we admit we’ve been triggered it helps us regroup and lets our spouse know we’re wanting to work through it. Ironically, one of my biggest triggers came from how my family made
    special occasions “special” and my husband’s family mostly ignored them. Thus so did my husband. I remember letting him know when I felt myself withdrawing before an approaching event, “I don’t want to pull away from you. I love you. But I feel myself wanting to protect myself from being hurt.” Just bringing it up before it built into something helped us both sidestep a land mind. Great series. And thanks for your support on Little Women, Big God!!


    1. Yes, that’s one that we often like to skip too, because we fear that vulnerability. But I’ve become convinced it is exactly in that place of vulnerability that God does His best work in our hearts and marriages–knitting us tightly to our mates. I’m so glad to hear that you were able to navigate that trigger you had with your husband. Those are the kinds of “secrets” that can easily separate us, but you used it to bring you both closer. You go, girl! 😉


  2. I am so grateful for these posts 8n the series. I have been following them closely and I thought I should let you know You are Doing a Great Job.
    May God reward you Richly for allowing Him reach people in a unique , transparent and sincere platform.
    God bless my sweet friend.


    1. I’m so glad to hear it, Ifeoma. That’s the best word of encouragement I could get–that it’s helping others in their lives and marriages. Thank you for joining the conversation and being such an incredible encourager in my life. I pray God blesses you in that same way, girlfriend!


  3. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    OK, I have to admit that I read “Taming the Tigger in Your Marriage…”

    Seriously, great post, and some very well-thought-out methodologies.

    One thing I do is keep a song playing in my head, Linkin Park’s “Iridescent”. The chorus goes like this –

    Do you feel cold, and lost in desperation,
    you build up hope, but failure’s all you know.
    Remember all your sadness and frustration,
    and let it go…let it go.

    I find it calming. It’s really a lovely song, with a nice message. Here, if I may, the youtube link –



    1. What a scary looking video, Andrew! The words, to me, do not at all seem to fit the images, but then I’m assuming this is reflective of some movie perhaps? Anyway, yes, the words and melody are quite lovely. I can see why you would enjoy listening to it–given your situation and especially when triggered. I think letting it go in those kinds of situations is absolutely crucial, but I always add a caveat in my thinking–let it go to God. Otherwise, that pesky trigger and problem will not really be addressed completely. Keeping you in my prayers each day, my friend!


  4. Bev @ Walking Well With God Avatar
    Bev @ Walking Well With God

    How true that still (after all these years) having to deal with some of the same old triggers keeps us running back to where we need to be…in Christ. Every time something triggers something not so good in me, it’s my red flag that I need Christ to get me through. For me, one of the old age triggers was that no one took my opinion seriously when I was growing up and so when I feel like my opinion is not being valued in my marriage…there goes that trigger again. Thank you for your point on posts!


    1. We need to view those triggers as red flags or perhaps white flags of surrender that must be given to our Lord, Bev. 😉 I’m glad that you’ve identified a specific trigger. I do hope that you continue to pray and process that for God’s healing. I’m certain that you are the type to take that proactive and wholehearted approach. Thanks so much for encouraging me, my friend. Always good to see you in the comments.


  5. Thank you for continuing to work through triggers with us. The Pray and Process tool is specific and looks to be a very useful tool. As you continue through this series, you are making sure that we have what we need to work through this in our own life.

    I discovered another trigger this week as I was talking through a conversation with my other daughter in law to be. I become defensive if I feel someone I hold dear is not being treated in love. In other words, don’t mess with my family because momma bear comes out. I have always known I have this tendency but it was highlighted this week during that conversation and because you are writing this series. Lots of love, forgiveness and Christ are needed to work through things like this. Thank you for sticking with us and leading us through. Hugs, friend!


    1. I’m so glad that you are taking an intentional approach to this series, Mary. That’s so good for me to hear. I think that’s a trigger most moms have. The problem for me with that one is that sometimes that person is my hubby. Then it divides us and does more damage than good for the sons we are trying to protect! 😉 We’re still trying to navigate how to do that in a way that helps all involved. Thanks so much for your kind words and continued support, dear friend!


  6. I’m loving the intentionality of this discussion on triggers. It emphasizes for me the truth that we are not slaves to our emotions and that God can use this focused approach to lead us into healthy interactions with the people who most commonly take the brunt of our brokenness!


    1. Thank you so much, Michele. I like that word – “intentional” so it is high praise in my book! 😉 Yes, so true–we are not slaves to our emotions and God desires for us to take captive those thoughts and bring them under His control and healing.


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  8. Thanks for the tools Beth. I now know some of the reasons I feel the way I do sometimes. Thanks a lot for sharing. This is by far one of the most helpful here on Messy Marriage.
    Have a super blessed day!


    1. That’s so great to hear, Ugochi. I’m always so glad to hear about awareness and healing taking place. Your encouragement means so much, my friend! You have a blessed day as well!


  9. mmm … those beasts seem to come in layers, don’t they, Beth. We’re all in process of being healed, becoming whole, one challenge at a time as we allow God to do the work He longs to do, first of all in our own hearts and then spilling out into our relationships.

    Those triggers are hard buggers to rid ourselves of …


    1. Yes, Linda. Sadly, they do. That’s why we both know that we must examine and understand them so that we avoid falling prey to them popping up again. I know that the more I’ve processed these triggers and surrendered them to the Lord in my life, the freer I have become. And prayer has been so instrumental in this. I do hope others recognize God’s power in their weaknesses.


  10. aaarrgghh, triggers. Oh for grace to trust HIM more!!!


    1. Yes, they make me groan too, Susan! But they also teach me to trust Him more, as you’ve said. So I suppose I should rejoice when God gives me that opportunity to stretch and grow.


  11. Mary Flaherty Avatar

    One of the things I picked up on this week (in myself) is the desire for my husband to touch me–something he used to do a lot when we were dating and newly married. I see couples in church–long married couples–holding hands during worship or prayer, sitting with a hand on a knee, an arm around a shoulder. I wondered, “Why doesn’t my man do that?” And God said, ‘Why don’t you?” I realized that I couldn’t blame him because I give off an independent “aura” (for lack of a better word). That can be off-putting. So now I have to look at why I hesitate in being so free to touch him. I know this isn’t about triggers, but I think somehow it is. There is something churning in my past relationships or whatever that is preventing me from closeness to my man. Feel free to send me a bill for today’s therapy session haha!


  12. Hey Beth,
    Great thoughts. One of my “triggers” is simply getting overly busy and too stressed. It’s not so much a trigger specific to marriage, but it does affect our marriage. Life looks better in general when I take time to relax and slow down. Of course, this makes marriage better too. Thank you for these very important marriage reminders. I love the beast graphic too 🙂


  13. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts and for hostessing this. Be blessed!
    Laura of Harvest Lane Cottage


  14. Marcus has gotten good at dealing with my triggers over the years…and he’s had to put up with some doozies! I found that when I was able to admit my behaviour was out of a trigger, he was better able to deal with my emotions in a more efficient and healthy manner. He was also then able to reassure me that he wasn’t the person who hurt me. He could tell me that he wasn’t going to abandon me or become angry like so-and-so did/does. He was then able to help me trust his love for me. It is so important to verbalize our triggers. When we don’t it is easier to sweep them back under the rug.


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