Sometimes It’s Her: She’s Got Baggage!

July 29, 2014

in Change, Marriage Killer, Seeing Clearly, Series, Understanding Her, Your Needs

Sometimes it’s not you, it’s her:

Your sweet wonderful bride brought some baggage into your marriage. How much varies from woman to woman but they all have it, and it’s ugly, smelly, hurtful stuff. When you bump her stuff, it hurts her. She reacts to “you hurting her” by saying or doing something rude. Bumping her stuff can be as simple as using a certain word, a facial expression, or expressing an idea. A “normal person” would not react, but due to some injury, it sets her off.  

So much baggage! © Ken Backer | 

When you have “triggered” her, there’s no magic technique for making things better. She goes into self-protection mode and withdraws or strikes out. In that moment it’s unlikely you can undo what has been done. Look for ways to diffuse the situation, or just give her space.

Long term you want her to figure out why things trigger her and get past them. Unfortunately, this is easier said than done. The first problem is getting her to accept it’s her issue. She felt hurt by something you said or did, so she blames you. An excellent method to help her move beyond this is to model a better way. When you’re hurt by something she says or does because she hit a sore spot in you, don’t put it on her. Work on the painful place in yourself and be honest with her about the situation. “I’m sorry I got upset, it was about me, not you” is exceptionally difficult to say, but if you say it often enough it will help her do the same.

In the past, I’ve suggested you learn what triggers her and avoid it. This is a good way to avoid blow-ups, but it is not always possible. Additionally, it’s not always the most loving thing. Protecting her from her baggage means she’ll never grow up, which is bad for both of you, your marriage, your kids, and everyone else to whom she relates. The trick here is nudging her at the right time, and not too much at once. If things are falling apart all around her, walking on eggshells may be an appropriately loving sacrifice. If you find yourself doing that all the time, something needs to change.

Dealing with our baggage is a lifelong process, but it will get better. Be sure to thank and compliment your wife for the places where she has dealt with her stuff. It will make her feel loved and appreciated, and it will encourage her to keep working on her stuff. 

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And yet, sometimes despite prayers, despite counseling, despite me asking "is there some way you want me to help you..." every day, the baggage still persists.

When that happens, its easy to give up hope, and much harder to ask God to make you the husband HE wants you to be, because you know you will never be the husband your wife wants you to be.


I agree, excellent post to remind us that as marriage partners, as men and women, we think differently! 

At times it has helped to ask, "is there some way you want me to help you ..."  or to say after something was said that inflames her, when that was not the intent at all, "Is there a problem between us that I don't know about?"  

by the way, she may look back at you as dumb founded as you might feel at the moment, but it gives a great opportunity for real communication. 

These give her the opportunity to open up and reveal where there is hidden pain.  

Through it all, authentically having the other persons best interest at heart will open many positive avenues for helpful dialog.


Excellent post!

A couple of thoughts-

First, if you say something that triggers your wife, own up to it. "I'm sorry for what I said" is good. 

"I'm sorry I said something that upset you" is an attempt to step away from responsibility, making her part of the process - which isn't helpful under the circumstances.

"I'm sorry that you took offense at what I said" is pure passive-aggressive weaseling.

The important thing is to stop the cycle of anger, even if it calls for more humility than you want to show - because anger is always destructive, and never clears the air - except in Hollywood. nd the truth is that we do things that hurt our wives - wittingly, subconsciously, or through sheer martial clumsiness. An apology, a direct one, doesn't go amiss.

Second thought - nudging to go through your wife's baggage is rather like DIY EOD. Mistakes are irremediable. 

Get a counselor. Get someone trained to see when the nudge' has gone to far, and the demons have to be chained again.


The only way your spouse is going to respond positively to being "nudged" or encouraged to deal with baggage is if they trust that you are doing it out a deep desire to see them enjoy the fruits of being freed from the baggage, out of a deep love for them.  If I respond with impatience because they are reluctant, etc, it will only serve to confirm that my "nudging" is more motivated by selfish desires on my part.

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@AndrewTheLesser Yup that happens. And it sucks. Sometimes we are left doing what is right because it is right. 

Working to be what He wants is a wise choice. What she wants is not what she really needs you to be, and it could well get in the way of her growth and healing. 

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@BudekSchmeisser All great comments. 

Some couples can navigate these things on their own, but many cannot. The real frustration is when one spouse wants the get help and the other does not.


@TheGenerousHusband @AndrewTheLesser 

Paul as I read through Andrewthelesser's comment, it reminded me that sometimes it takes a lot of water to wear down the marble. 

Gentle persistence targeted to help a heart mend will produce a response but it may take years of positive loving reinforcement especially if the heart is extremely scar covered.

Love her unconditionally anyway. This is not easy but it is the right way.

Jerry -

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@CrackingTheRomanceCode @TheGenerousHusband @AndrewTheLesser I have talked with men who have reached a point of surrender. They no porringer have her changing as a part of why they do what they do. They continue because they know it is right, and doing what is right is what motivates them. These men have a peace in themselves and their marriages. Some of them eventually see changes, some do not, but all of them are okay.

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