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i'm personally not having a problem with this at the moment, but i can say that it has been a topic that has come up at some point in my own marriage. i have a friend who is somewhat struggling with this topic, so i thought i'd try to get some input.

most of us have exes (boyfriends/girlfriends, fiancees, spouses), and most of us have had a bad experience [or ten] from previous relationships. obviously, these experiences shape our responses to events that take place later in life.

what this can lead to is a very guarded, hyper-sensitive person (not every time, but sometimes). it's extremely evident with people who have kids, and is also more evident in women.

so, my buddy has been married for a few months. he went through almost 15 years of a rough marriage before he got out (has kids). his new wife went through a decade of a rough marriage (has kids), and they dated for a long enough time before they got married.

as arguments/issues/events pop up over the course of their new marriage (as they are supposed to do), she has a tendency to overreact. she often states that she is overly sensitive due to her previous relationships. her 'default' reaction is X because of a traumatic experience from her marriage. often times, this reaction later warrants an apology, because she over-reacted.

the issue lies that she does not give her new husband the benefit of the doubt. she is somewhat creating an environment where he is becoming timid about speaking up (especially about something that involves one of her kids, which is bound to happen, and is normal/natural). he gets bullied into apologizing for the original event because of her response, and then later she comes back and tells him that he was right and that she overreacted. the common thread is "i don't want to be taken for granted again. i am just so sensitive when it comes to my kids." yes, she is a normal, reasonable person after she's thought about the events that have taken place, but the initial reaction can be unpleasant (when it doesn't have to be).

now, he has left his baggage at the door. he learned a lot of lessons with his first marriage, and the lessons-learned, he applied in the selection of his new wife. she does not possess the bad traits of his ex. so, whereas he applied that hypersensitivity in the dating/selection process, she is still applying it in marriage.

the question is, is it okay for him to react the same way? he is going to need to approach the subject with her. her kids can not be off limits when it comes to discussion. her overreactions cannot be off limits.

one of the things that he and i discussed is that he could approach her with "i will treat you the same as you treat me. i will use you as a rubric for how to react to things in this marriage. and if you are going to continue to consistently treat me as though i have the potential to become as atrocious as your ex, then i must treat you the same."

i used this method when i was first married (many moons ago...) when my wife was emotionally responding to a situation that required logic, and it worked quite well. it is very hard to argue with someone that takes your reasoning, and then applies it to themself.

obviously, keeping tabs in a marriage is bad. but, this subject has to be approached. i think this is probably something that happens in a lot of 2nd and 3rd marriages, and i am interested in seeing the input.
 

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If he knows she's sensitive and unreasonable when it comes to her kids, the best way for him to deal with it is to let her handle it at the moment, then approach her later when she's calm and offer his input. Never in front of the kids. They have to be a united front, but if she's too emotional to reason it makes sense to wait until she has calmed down to listen.
 

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Each situation is unique but I personally like the idea of treating others they way they treat you. Most people can't see their own bad behavior until it's mimicked back to them. If someone pulls out their phone at dinner you pull out yours. If someone goes out all the time with friends at your expense you make friends and go out too. If someone is chronically late you stop being on time as well.

This must be approached with a good attitude for it work. Think of it as a strategy with a good outcome expected. If it's done out of revenge, anger or to change someone else it won't work. It's supposed to be for YOU.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
this is a couple that is comprised of reasonable people. the baggage she is carrying is completely reasonable/understandable. but it needs to be checked at the door of the marriage.

he treats her kids a little nicer than he treats his own, which is a good way to approach it. that will equalize here in a year or two. but the issues are never about real-time discipline. it's more when they are discussing an issue or an appropriate response to a situation.

This must be approached with a good attitude for it to work.
- that's a great distinction to make; hadn't thought about it. he isn't doing it out of spite, because he doesn't have that kind of time or desire that kind of drama. he would simply get a divorce if that were his desires.
 

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One of my favorite books is 7 habits of highly effective people. He advocates some of these methods but cautions that you need to have a heart for positive change. It's like reading a book about healthy boundaries. They aren't meant to be spiteful they are simply tools to state what you are and are not okay with.
 

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If she doesn't trust her husband checking the baggage at the door won't happen. That's what needs to be worked on. Her trust in him.
 

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If she doesn't trust her husband checking the baggage at the door won't happen. That's what needs to be worked on. Her trust in him.
He can't make her trust him. That's the problem. And ironically strong boundaries combined with consistency and love go a long way to instill trust. At the end of the day the only person he can change is himself. Her trust issues are hers to own. She keeps apologizing so she's aware. He just needs to state clearly that this can't continue long term.
 

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I don't think the saying is to treat others as they treat you but to treat others how you would want them to treat you. If someone is behaving in a way that hurts or offends you rather than throwing it back at them it might be more helpful to communicate this to them and ask how they would feel if you did the same to them. Maybe I am wrong, but tbh if I was in the situation where someone was hurting me and not trying to change that after speaking about it then I don't think lowering myself to being spiteful back is going to help. Maybe when it gets to that it is better to make a positive change in your own life and walk away.
 

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it might be more helpful to communicate this to them and ask how they would feel if you did the same to them.
This is the first line of defense. Problem is many times talking doesn't work. If it did tam wouldn't even exist.

Step 1 is yes communicate.

Step 2 is move on to something else when talking doesn't work.

ANYTHING ELSE. LOL

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

If they didn't listen the first 12 times you told them then it's likely the 13th time isn't going to work either.
 

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I think this can pretty much be said for anything we do... we only interpret actions based on what we experienced before.

I personally think it takes someone very aware and willing to work on themselves to break those patterns.

Your friends wife needs a PAUSE before her reaction...

I have personally been struggling with this and it's a lot of work esp after something traumatic that went on for years
 

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i'm personally not having a problem with this at the moment, but i can say that it has been a topic that has come up at some point in my own marriage. i have a friend who is somewhat struggling with this topic, so i thought i'd try to get some input.

most of us have exes (boyfriends/girlfriends, fiancees, spouses), and most of us have had a bad experience [or ten] from previous relationships. obviously, these experiences shape our responses to events that take place later in life.

what this can lead to is a very guarded, hyper-sensitive person (not every time, but sometimes). it's extremely evident with people who have kids, and is also more evident in women.

so, my buddy has been married for a few months. he went through almost 15 years of a rough marriage before he got out (has kids). his new wife went through a decade of a rough marriage (has kids), and they dated for a long enough time before they got married.

as arguments/issues/events pop up over the course of their new marriage (as they are supposed to do), she has a tendency to overreact. she often states that she is overly sensitive due to her previous relationships. her 'default' reaction is X because of a traumatic experience from her marriage. often times, this reaction later warrants an apology, because she over-reacted.

the issue lies that she does not give her new husband the benefit of the doubt. she is somewhat creating an environment where he is becoming timid about speaking up (especially about something that involves one of her kids, which is bound to happen, and is normal/natural). he gets bullied into apologizing for the original event because of her response, and then later she comes back and tells him that he was right and that she overreacted. the common thread is "i don't want to be taken for granted again. i am just so sensitive when it comes to my kids." yes, she is a normal, reasonable person after she's thought about the events that have taken place, but the initial reaction can be unpleasant (when it doesn't have to be).

now, he has left his baggage at the door. he learned a lot of lessons with his first marriage, and the lessons-learned, he applied in the selection of his new wife. she does not possess the bad traits of his ex. so, whereas he applied that hypersensitivity in the dating/selection process, she is still applying it in marriage.

the question is, is it okay for him to react the same way? he is going to need to approach the subject with her. her kids can not be off limits when it comes to discussion. her overreactions cannot be off limits.

one of the things that he and i discussed is that he could approach her with "i will treat you the same as you treat me. i will use you as a rubric for how to react to things in this marriage. and if you are going to continue to consistently treat me as though i have the potential to become as atrocious as your ex, then i must treat you the same."

i used this method when i was first married (many moons ago...) when my wife was emotionally responding to a situation that required logic, and it worked quite well. it is very hard to argue with someone that takes your reasoning, and then applies it to themself.

obviously, keeping tabs in a marriage is bad. but, this subject has to be approached. i think this is probably something that happens in a lot of 2nd and 3rd marriages, and i am interested in seeing the input.
On my second marriage here..........

Personally, after a bad first marriage, I wouldn't tolerate it the way your friend is. Her "baggage" is not an excuse to treat him badly...to judge & convict him for things he has not done.

I would not also treat my husband badly because he expects it to happen due to his ex-wife's behavior in the hopes he would change his behavior. That is ridiculous.

They need marriage counseling. That is my only suggestion.
 

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I don't think the saying is to treat others as they treat you but to treat others how you would want them to treat you. If someone is behaving in a way that hurts or offends you rather than throwing it back at them it might be more helpful to communicate this to them and ask how they would feel if you did the same to them. Maybe I am wrong, but tbh if I was in the situation where someone was hurting me and not trying to change that after speaking about it then I don't think lowering myself to being spiteful back is going to help. Maybe when it gets to that it is better to make a positive change in your own life and walk away.
Yeah, that's the saying, treat others how you want to be treated. And that's ideal.

But what about when the communication doesn't transfer into action? They could get it, but not really "get it." So if they can actually see their actions applied to them, it's a good way to actually show them how their actions affect others.

For example, my roommate is ALWAYS late. for work, church, hanging out with friends, anything. She's almost 30, and as long as I've known her (almost 10 years), she's ALWAYS been late, and she never really realized how it affected others until she was made to wait for someone, and she felt awful, thinking, "is this what I make others go through?" And since then, she's started to change and make more of an effort to actually change. She couldn't make the change to respect people's time until she felt how they felt.

So, like it's been said, don't treat her how she is treating others for revenge, or out of spite, but do it to show someone how they are acting is actually affecting people, and be there afterwards to support and encourage the change.
 

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If she does blow up at him as you say, the worst thing he could do is to start acting in the same manner towards her. All that would two is create a situation in which now two adults are acting out. That leads to arguments, fights, anger, etc.

Your friend and his wife need to go to marriage counseling. They need to learn how to communicate with each other and how to blend their families in a healthy way. If in deed her is over reacting when he is being reasonable at all times, then she will benefit from individual counseling.

We on this forum cannot determine if she is actually having reasonable reactions to what your friend does in relation to her children. Unless you are with them 24/7 you cannot really determine this either. There are always three stories: his story, her story and the truth. If they work with a counselor, the counselor will be able to see what is going on between them and give them advice that fits their needs, and coach them in better ways to interact with each other.

One of the communication tools I am aware of and have used is to not allow outbursts, in which one or both of the spouses says and does things that they will later regret. Letting this sort of exchange happen over and over destroys a relationship. It destroys trust.

I call it the “STOP” method. They come up with a word/sign that they both know. I use the word “STOP” and the stop hand sign. Here’s how it works. He knows her pattern. When he recognizes that she is starting to go into one of her over reactions he says “STOP” firmly and puts up his hand in the stop sign. He might have to say this two or three times before she stops. Then he tells her that he’s not going to continue talking with her when she’s all worked up. Instead he’s going to go off by himself for a while (half hour/hour). This gives her time to calm down and think through what she’s about to say and do. It’s each person’s responsibility to calm themselves down and work through their own daemons.

He needs to talk with her ahead of time and tell her that he’s going to do this from now on. He’s doing it because the anger and harsh things she says are love busters and killing is love for he. He wants to preserve and never lose his love for her.

Over time she will learn to think things out and consider that she can trust him. She will no longer have the opportunity to say mean things to him and to over react.

I did this in my previous marriage with a husband who was very verbally abusive, yelling, screaming, throwing things. He’d say that most hateful things when he was doing this. He learned that while he needed an audience for his temper tantrums I was not that audience. He learned to think things through and approach me in a calm, well thought out manner. IT took about 6 months for his behavior to completely change on this issue. (We are divorced because he was also a serial cheater.)
 

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Discussion Starter #14
it's a great distinction when you say [sic] "treat others as you want to be treated, not as they treat you."

this is a couple that has been married for only a few months. they've taken their licks and have learned a lot from their previous marriages. this issue is a small one. they aren't screaming. they aren't having knock-down-drag-out fights over it. but it does exist in their life. afaik, there haven't been any real outbursts.

i know of a good quote. "there are 2 types of people: those who need therapy, and those who go to therapy." i believe it, but i think therapy is a bit premature at this stage.

i like the idea of a "pause" before she reacts. maybe he can give her that idea. people are quick to act when kids are involved (or are merely the topic of discussion). a good pause and reflection before speaking up may be a great idea.

i forget about a lot of these simple things. my marriage is rolling really smoothly, and has been for a while, so the tactics required to really 'work' on the marriage haven't been tools in my toolbox for a while.
 
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