Create a Happier Relationship by Recognizing Your Own & Your Partner’s Wounded Child State




Relationships are one of the most beautiful parts of our lives. As Anthony Robbins said, “The quality of your life is the quality of your relationships.”  From time to time, we may feel stuck or helpless in our relationship – and not know how to deal with the conflicts and negative emotions that arise from our own or our partner’s emotional triggers. This article aims to help you to recognize your, and your partner’s, wounded child state and equip you with skills to move yourself or your partner out of that state into your loving wise aware self to be able to address whatever challenges need to be addressed in a loving adult way. This is actually a significant area of my work with couples, so this article is just a cursory look at this weighty topic.


When we feel triggered by someone, it is usually because something has occurred that has us drop into a traumatized story that was created long ago. We often created this story in childhood to give meaning to why emotionally damaging events were taking place back then or why there was such a lack of love or why our parents fought constantly. And the list goes on. At such a young age, we made these hurtful occurrences or ongoing dynamics mean something diminishing about our own selves. For example, “I’m not worthy of love.” Or, “I’m invisible.” Or, “I don’t matter.”  So, when your partner does something that you interpret to mean that they are ignoring you, it can drop you right back into that wounded child state of emotional pain that is centered around believing that you’re invisible, you don’t matter, you’re not lovable or you’re not good enough. And then, you react from there. 


How can you know when you have dropped into this wounded child state? The first sign that you are in your wounded child state is that you feel insecure. When you feel like your partner is pulling away, you may become needy or clingy, which makes things worse. The second sign is having self-critical thoughts about yourself. The third sign is being negative and judgmental towards your partner, and the fourth sign is wanting to control your partner’s behavior. 


Some signs that your partner’s wounded child state has been triggered is when you observe them getting defensive, or shutting down and becoming silent. Or, they may become testy or angry. You can recognize your partner’s wounded child state by observing their body language, tone of voice, and responses. When you start paying more attention to their behavior, you will be able to identify patterns that indicate when they are in their wounded child state.


It requires every part of you to be able to skillfully deal with a conflict, negotiate your needs or maneuver other challenges that arise in the relationship, so you really want to find a way to step back when you become aware that you have dropped into your wounded child state – and find a way to help yourself first to get back to your adult aware self. You can do this by communicating to your partner that you need a “time out” – and set about the business of nurturing this traumatized part of you to remind yourself that you DO matter, you are more than enough, you have come here to be seen and that you are loveable and worthy of all the good that life has to offer. 

Once you have done this, you may be able to consider what meaning you were making about what your partner was or wasn’t doing that may be tapping into your old traumatized story. And, when you feel a bit calmer, you can begin to reflect upon the situation at hand in a nonjudgmental way – and how you want to address your partner about it. You may even decide to share with your partner about how what was occurring between the two of you was bringing up your wounded child state. 


And, when you recognize that your partner’s wounded child state has been triggered, the best thing you can do is to stay in your adult place – and practice mirroring them, which often helps them to calm down.  And don’t accept everything that they are saying as true in this state. If they become toxic or intensely angry, you set a boundary and make a request for a “time out.” If the two of you have shared what each of your old traumatized stories are, you may be able to more easily address the source of the triggers when they arise. 


In summary, being able to recognize and handle your own and your partner’s wounded child state are powerful ways to deepen the connection between you and your partner. When we become compassionate towards ourselves and develop our capacity to be self-aware when we drop into that traumatized story, we can manage our triggers and be more present in our relationships. The same applies when we understand our partner’s wounded child state. It is an opportunity to show love and empathy for our own selves and for our partner – which ultimately cultivates a deeper relationship. Learning how to recognize and nurture our wounded child can transform our relationships and, in turn, transform our lives.

Kim Von Berg / Thriving Loving Relationships

Kim Von Berg / Thriving Loving Relationships

Create a Happier Relationship by Recognizing Your Own & Your Partner’s Wounded Child State


Kim Von Berg / Thriving Loving Relationships

Kim Von Berg / Thriving Loving Relationships

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