Making Mountains Out of Molehills? Minimizing Behaviors and Your Marriage

“So I made a mistake. Pooh, pooh. I already said I’m sorry. Why can’t we not make a big deal out of this?”
“It wasn’t that serious. Let’s forget about it and move on.”

We go into marriage recognizing that our significant other is not perfect – nor are we. We are bound to make mistakes – and some mistakes may have more serious consequences than others. Our mistakes (willful or otherwise) will have negative consequences on our union. When one strays and commits adultery, it will hurt the other spouse. When a wife is addicted to shopping and spending, it will not only strain the family’s finances but the couple’s relationship as well.

We sometimes have negative behaviors. What is important is learning how to deal with mistakes from both sides of the coin. For the person who was offended to be able to deal with it and forgive the erring spouse, as well as for the offending party to take responsibility for the consequences and to recognize and validate the other spouse’s hurt feelings. In doing so, a couple can take further steps towards addressing the issue and changing for the better.

Minimizing – A defense Mechanism

“It wasn’t all that bad.” This is the recurring theme of someone who has a tendency to minimize his negative behaviors and its effects. It is a form of denial where one justifies his behavior to avoid dealing with the root cause of the problem and to allow him to continue with the negative behavior.

Minimizing also means having the sense that something one does, thinks or feels is less important as compared to if someone else had the same actions, thoughts and feelings. For instance, a person who is prone to minimizing will try to justify that his being a workaholic isn’t all that bad. He will tell himself that it does not have serious consequences on his family and that as soon as “things settle down in the office”, he can ease off on the work load.

However, when the same person sees the same things happen to another workaholic, he can immediately see what’s wrong with the behavior. He already knows how the persons can act towards correcting their negative behavior. The sad thing is, the things he sees in other people in a similar condition as he is, he can’t see in himself because he has already minimized the consequences of his own behavior.

In the case of an alcoholic or substance abuser, he will try to minimize his addiction by saying, “I just had a couple of drinks, nothing major.” Or, “I was just experimenting; other people were doing it as well.” When he gets into trouble at work, he will respond by saying, “Even if I had a few beers in me, I still manage to do a lot of the work. In fact, my work performance is better than other people’s.” And, if his spouse will suggest going to a Utah substance abuse counselor, he will say, “Why spend good money when there really is no problem. I don’t need Utah counseling– I just have a few beers now and then and I can stop when and if I want to.”

Minimizing and Your Marriage

This kind of defense mechanism will have a negative impact on the marriage as well. Since the problem “isn’t a big deal”, the problem is not faced and dealt with as it should. To address a problem, both spouses must first be able to acknowledge that a problem exists.

Minimizing also sends out the message to the spouse that his or her feelings do not factor in. His or her feelings aren’t recognized and validated. As a result, the negative behaviors can breed resentment, bitterness and hurt. Ultimately, the failure to deal with the problems head on will lead to serious rifts in the marriage.

Breaking down the defense of Minimizing

This habit of minimizing may not be as easy to conquer. It may be more ingrained than you think. You may need the help of an experienced Utah counselor to help you recognize this behavior in you. With the help of Utah marriage counselor, you can start learning appropriate communication and coping tools in order to gain insights into your spouse’s feelings about your negative behaviors. This is one step towards learning to acknowledge and validate your spouse’s feelings. As you communicate with an effort of building empathy and understanding, you will also learn to take responsibility for your actions.

One step is acknowledging that even if you don’t see anything wrong with your behavior is to acknowledge how your spouse feels about it. Even if you don’t have a problem with the issue, if it hurts your spouse, then there is an issue. This sends out the message that your spouse’s feelings are important to you.

Provo marriage counseling can help you get have more emotional equipment in your marriage toolbox that can strengthen your marriage. This includes learning to empathize with your spouse and accepting the consequences of your behavior.


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