Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Recently, I’ve been reading the book “Emotionally Healthy Spirituality” by Peter Scazzero, and I’m loving the insights there. One description in particular stood out to me the other day: he described  triggers in our relationships as “allergic reactions.” Allergic reactions, he explains, are something we all have in relationships — that guttural, triggering thing that just makes our stress levels, defensiveness, anger, or pain spike, even if it’s not always rational.

One of my “allergic reactions” happens when we are riding in the car, Eric is driving, and I personally feel like we are following too closely to the car ahead. This is particularly exacerbated in hard rain (which is happening as I write this!). We don’t have to be that close for me to be stressed about this; in fact, many if not most folks would be completely comfortable with it, and Eric is an excellent driver. He’s never been in a single car accident. He knows what he’s doing, and he leaves a safe amount of space. I know that my stress around this is irrational. And yet, no matter what, I can’t rationalize the anxiety I feel. I can’t make it go away.

But I can control my response. 

I know (as does my husband) about this allergy to driving at high speeds in bad weather. I can choose to respond with love and share what I feel, or I can let my allergy take over and respond harshly. 

Today when this very situation occurred, I took a deep breath, stated how much I appreciate my husband’s great driving skills, and then asked him to give more space because I was feeling anxious. He responded with love and kindness — and more space!

We all have allergic reactions — it’s how we respond to those feelings which can bring us closer to our partner, or put defensiveness in overdrive.

How about you? What are your “allergic reactions”?