Usually, when your spouse won’t see your perspective, it’s because THEY feel unheard, insecure, or they’re worrying too

much about your child to consider another point of view.



Here are the questions to ask yourself to identify the cause of an adults’ behavior…

These are similar to what you’d ask yourself about a child, but they are shifted slightly to account for adults’ common triggers:



1. Are their biological needs accounts low?


Are they hungry, tired, or low in energy?


2. Is your relationships strong in general?   

Do they tend to see you as someone who’s on their team — someone they feel respected by and want to listen to?


3. Are they in Yuck? (Are their emotional needs accounts low)? 

 Do they feel:

Disconnected from you or from your child?
Disrespected by you or in general?
Incapable of handling the situation or incapable in general?
Out of control in the situation or in general?
Worried, especially about the future of your child?


 4. Do they have the tools to regulate their Yuck / discomfort? 

If they feel any of these things, do they know how to regulate their Yuck so that they can access the “open” part of their brain rather then being stuck in Yuck / fight-or-flight?



An Example

Scenario:  Jason asks his wife Becky to bring their daughter to hockey practice early because he’s seen that their daughter feels more confident at practice that way. Becky says that she’ll do her best, but that she thinks that Jason babies their daughter too much. Jason tries to explain his position to Becky, but she keeps aruging with him. 

What Jason can ask himself to understand why Becky doesn’t seem to hear him:

1. Are her biological needs accounts low?
Becky has been working hard lately, so she’s likely tired and doesn’t have a lot of energy.

2. Does Becky tend to feel like we’re on the same team?
Becky and I have a pretty strong relationship. Sometimes we argue about parenting, but in general we’re on the same team and resolve most issues.

3. Is Becky in Yuck? Are her emotional needs accounts low?
I think Becky feels bad that she doesn’t know everything about our daughter. I think she sees it as a sign that she’s not doing a good enough job as a mom (Significance) and that she’s not close enough to our daughter (Connection).

4. Does she have the tools to regulate her Yuck.
INo, I think being defensive and not listening to my suggestion is her way of coping with feeling guilty.



Putting it all together

Jason identifies what’s going on and what to do 

What’s causing Becky to be resistant to Jason’s suggestion:
Becky feels like it’s her job as a mom to know what’s going on with her kids and what’s best for them. So when Jason makes suggestion about how to handle a situation, she criticizes it.

How Jason can address the situation:
Jason doesn’t have to give in to Becky. However, it would be helpful to start the conversation by focusing on areas where Becky DOES contribute before making a suggestion that might make her feel insecure about her parenting.

What it might look like: The words 

Jason: Becky, you’re taking Stephanie to hockey practice later, right?

Becky: Yeah, why?

Jason: Hey, which uniform did you say fit her better?

Becky: The red one.

Jason: Oh yeah! Thanks! (pauses) Hey, Beck?

Becky: Yeah?

Jason: Do you notice anything when we bring Stephanie to hockey practice early?

Becky: What do you mean?

Jason: I feel like she does better in practice when we do that. Have you noticed the same thing?

Becky: No, I haven’t noticed that.

Jason: Oh… I’d love to see what you think. Would you be able to take her early today to see if you see it too?

Becky: Sure.




In this scenario, Becky was less defensive when her emotional need (to know she contributes and matters as a parent) was met.

Once you and your spouse understand why you both get triggered, and you deposit into your relationship regularly, you’re much

more likely to see eye-to-eye.