marriage fights

Dr. Matt Townsend: “Here’s why those marriage fights really hurt…”

Has your spouse ever said something that hit you right in a sore spot? There could be some reasons as to why those marriage fights really hurt.

Dr. Matt Townsend shares why it’s important to understand our reactions to those sore spots.


Recognizing the Raw Spots That Drive Your Reactivity

Have you ever been in a conversation with someone where they say something that makes you feel angry or insecure? So much so that you can’t continue the conversation normally?  If so, you are probably experiencing what Dr. Sue Johnson, the creator of Emotional Focused Therapy, calls a “raw spot.”

“Raw spots” surface when a present-day conversations subconsciously remind us of a past experience where an essential psychological need has been ignored or deprived.

Here are four ways to get REAL with those painful “raw spots.”

Recognize Your Emotions

Remember your emotions don’t lie, so pay attention to them. Four of the most common raw spots are mad, sad, afraid, and shamed. You know you’ve hit a raw spot if your emotional reaction is out of proportion to the event that has occurred or if your emotions shifted suddenly and radically in response to the event. Use emotion as a sign that it’s time to pay attention to your needs that aren’t being met.

Explore the Story Behind the Emotion

Try to figure out the deeper need that is not being met by recognizing what has triggered your emotions. Some common triggers include being excluded, being rejected, not being believed, and feeling “conditionally accepted.” Ask yourself, “What times in the past did I feel similar?”

Attend to the Starved Past

All interactions have a past, present, and future. Focus on the whole pain, not just the present pain. Sometimes it can take the pressure off a marriage to see that your current sadness is not caused by your partner but by another force. Ask yourself, “What times in the past were my psychological needs not met?” Answering this honestly will help you to connect with your pain in an honest way.

Lift the Interaction by Feeding the Deeper Need

Create some space in the conversation. Find a way to communicate about the underlying emotional need. Talk like the adult you are, not an offended child. It’s important to not blame your partner, but the psychological pattern in your life. Admit that you have an emotional past and share it openly. Don’t hide shame.

For more than a decade, Dr. Matt Townsend has been energizing audiences with his unique approach to maintaining successful relationships. Known as one of America’s top presenters in the field of Human Relations and Development, Matt blends humor and storytelling with interactive, real-life solutions that inspire immediate results in his audiences.

Matt has dedicated his life to the study of communication and interpersonal relationships. He has shared his experience with thousands of clients ranging from individuals and marriages to large corporations such as CNN, Cox Communication, and Lockheed Martin.

In addition to his professional life, Matt spends his time playing tennis and spending time with his wife Mardi, their six children, and three grandchildren.

Find more about Matt’s next workshop at

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