Relationship Breaking argument cycle

  • Thread starter Overwhelmed Hubby
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Overwhelmed Hubby


First post here. Just wondering if anyone has any good advice for breaking the cycle of unproductive arguments? My wife experiences bad emotional flashbacks and when she is triggered we tend to descend into a black hole of cyclical arguments that consume more and more energy and get more challenging as she becomes more emotionally dysregulated. I try and remain calm, create space for her emotions and validate her concerns (even if I disagree) but after several hours of reiterating why she’s so upset it’s difficult to not get defensive or need a break due to feeling overwhelmed. I haven’t found a way to gently pause the argument until things have calmed down, without further triggering her - she tends to associate me needing a break to regather myself and let things calm down with a rejection, or me ‘not prioritising her’.

Any advice from people further down the road?


If she disrespects your boundaries then it is up to you to enforce them. If you say you won’t tolerate something, don’t tolerate it. If you say you will remove yourself, remove yourself. If you say you will not engage, don’t engage. You need to be consistent. If you’re inconsistent then you may as well have no boundaries.
ya...bout this. I had to really think about this.

What I realized is that for me @Sweetpea76 is right -- If someone sets a boundary, but then doesn't hold it, the boundary no longer exist. Period. Poof. Gone.

Especially if I'm triggered. I mean, seriously -- if it's not important enough to them to keep it in place all the time why should I worry about honoring it once in a while?

My brain jumps right to "oh, guess they really didn't mean it" and I'll just stop paying attention to their blah blah blah.

And it will also discredit any future boundaries they set because they've already shown that they will let me run right thru them, so why should I bother thinking about them?

It has to be important to YOU before it can be important to me.


Jumping in to hijack and just say I really really need to figure out my boundaries are with my sufferer. I am seeing I haven't done that well, or at all. I'm a f*cking doormat right now, and Ira probably my fault. (Rant over, very bad ptsd supporter day here, I'm exhausted)

@Sweetpea76 you replied to OP's mention of discussing boundaries with basically saying there is no discussion necessary, that they are his boundaries. I can see that and agree. However, are u saying he shouldn't communicate them to her in some fashion? Should there be, for lack of a better term, a list somewhere of if she does this then he will leave/disengage/whatever?


@HisWife22 You need to communicate your boundaries for sure, and be consistent with enforcing them. He just does not get a say as to what your boundaries are. They’re *your* limits. It’s not a negotiation.

So for instance, if you communicate that you will not tolerate name-calling, he does not get to tell you that he will only call you names when he is stressed or triggered etc. You won’t tolerate name calling, and that’s it.