Sometimes we must defend ourselves. We defend our integrity from those who seek to ruin us. We defend our motives for doing good when accusations are slung around. We defend ourselves because we want to prove that we are good people. Maybe we defend ourselves because we want to convince ourselves that we are perfect. Are you willing to admit your mistake? What about with your spouse? Are you willing to acknowledge when you were wrong?
The reality is, no matter how great your marriage is, criticism and contempt creep in periodically. These attacks elicit defensiveness from even the best relationship navigators, and defensiveness is not healthy for the wellness of your marriage. Neither is criticism or contempt, but defensiveness is one of those qualities that undermines healthy conflict management. Proverbs 13:10 (NIV), “Where there is strife, there is pride, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.” The cure for defensiveness is TAKING RESPONSIBILITY (Gottman & Gottman, 2018). To subvert defensiveness, you must take responsibility even if it’s not full responsibility. We need to recognize that we are not perfect all the time. Sometimes we are responsible for some of the problem. Recognize what you are responsible for, and meet your spouse in the middle. Don’t let pride take hold of you within your marriage. Allow space for understanding and grace.
Gottman, J. & Gottman, J. S. (2018). Level 1 clinical training: Gottman method couples therapy. New York, NY: Norton
Youth, Family Life, and Counseling Minister