Overcoming Defensiveness in Your Relationship

It is often our natural response to become defensive when we feel attacked or criticised, and this tendency can cause huge harm to our intimate relationships. 

It can lead to communication breakdowns, escalate conflicts, and even cause the relationship to deteriorate over time or completely break down. 

The good news is that there are simple and effective strategies that you can adopt to help you overcome defensiveness and improve your relationship. 

In this blog, we’ll explore some of those strategies and lean on the recommendations of top psychologist and world-renowned relationship expert, John Gottman.

What are some of the Benefits of overcoming defensiveness in your relationship?

Improved Communication: 

Overcoming defensiveness can help you communicate more effectively with your partner. When you’re defensive, you’re more likely to interrupt, ignore, or dismiss your partner’s feelings, opinions, or ideas. 

But when you’re able to let go of defensiveness, you’ll be more open to listening and understanding your partner’s perspective, and you’ll be able to express your own thoughts and feelings more clearly and constructively.

Increased Trust: 

Defensiveness can erode trust in a relationship. When you’re defensive, your partner may feel that you’re not willing to take responsibility for your actions or that you’re hiding something. 

On the other hand, when you’re open and transparent, your partner is more likely to trust you and feel secure in the relationship.

Greater Intimacy: 

Overcoming defensiveness can help you deepen your emotional connection with your partner. When you’re defensive, you may hold back or withdraw from your partner, which can create distance and undermine intimacy. 

When you’re able to be vulnerable and authentic with your partner, you’ll build a deeper emotional bond that can enhance your overall relationship satisfaction.

So what strategies can we implement into our relationships to overcome defensiveness?

1️⃣ Take Responsibility: Instead of becoming defensive, take responsibility for your actions and behaviours. Acknowledge your mistakes, apologise when necessary, and be willing to make amends. This approach can help de-escalate conflicts and build trust with your partner.

2️⃣ Use “I” Statements: Instead of blaming or attacking your partner, use “I” statements to express your thoughts and feelings. For example, instead of saying, “You always interrupt me,” say, “I feel frustrated when I’m interrupted.” This approach can help you communicate more effectively and reduce defensiveness.

3️⃣ Practise Active Listening: When your partner is speaking, practise active listening by paying attention, clarifying, and summarising what they’re saying. This approach can help you understand your partner’s perspective and show that you’re genuinely interested in what they have to say.

Overcoming defensiveness is essential for maintaining a healthy and happy relationship. 

By improving communication, increasing trust, and enhancing intimacy, you’ll be able to build a stronger, more satisfying relationship with your partner. 

These simple strategies such as taking responsibility, using “I” statements, and practising active listening, can help you overcome defensiveness and create a more fulfilling relationship. 

If you’re struggling with defensiveness in your relationship, consider working with a relationship coach who can provide guidance and support as you navigate this challenging issue.

To find out more about our coaching programs please do drop me a message, let’s open up a conversation and see if we’re the right fit.