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How To Prevent ‘Gunnysacking’ From Ruining Your Relationship


How To Prevent ‘Gunnysacking’ From Ruining Your Relationship

You have always had some kind of issue with your partner – big or small. You also knew that you should have told them about it then and there. But you clamped it down and kept it inside. You don’t really want to reveal something at this moment and destroy a good time of peace. You had put your emotions in a sack and tucked it away. And you kept doing that for several years. It became a knot that you needed to unwind, but you are not willing to do so.

But one day, something really bad happened. Your partner repeated a mistake and this time, you have just had it.

You start by shouting at them about their current act but you don’t seem to stop just at that. You can feel the stress rising in your head and your heartbeat is going faster by the minute. You end up talking about the time when he did not support you in your work or when he was late for dinner. You bring back memories of the time when he forgot a special thing from the market which you had specially told him to bring or when he put the table in a wrong angle.

Everything from long before in the past comes out. This is referred to as ‘gunnysacking’. You have saved up all your emotions and now it is coming out in full flow.

According to a psychologist, Dennis Coons, gunnysacking is ‘saving up feelings and complaints’. Once it comes out, it comes out as a whole.

It is also referred to as emotional flooding by One Heart Counseling Center. Once emotions come into the play, your limbic system gets flooded and your prefrontal cortex, which processes insights, starts to malfunction. So, now, we can understand that, when people hold back resentment about one another, then gunnysacking can take place. One of the main causes happens to be the lack of proper communication.

So, here are some of the ways in which gunnysacking can be prevented:

1. Be attentive

Pay attention to your feelings. If you are attentive about your feelings and your mental state then you can notice when a buildup is taking place. On noticing it, you can take necessary action to either communicate or gain a foothold which will significantly reduce the chances of gunnysacking. Find a better way to deal with your emotions.

2. Relationship Review

Develop a schedule in such a way that after every week you can go over a relationship review. It would just take 30-45 minutes and you will list all the pros and cons that you faced in the week and how you plan to work on it together. Try to use communication tools, like Emotional Clock to help build up to the review and finally go through it.

3. Feel Good

If you have, in fact, fallen into the trap and released all your emotions, then don’t start feeling right. It might seem like a good outburst that releases all your emotions, but it might hurt your relationship. Review your relationship and think about the possible outcomes. If it’s a breakup, go for it. If it’s a resolution, try to attempt it right now.

Another interesting article: Relationship Experts Reveal: Couples Who Post Fewer Selfies On Social Media Are Happier

4. Couples Therapy

When you have a communication problem with each other, then couples’ therapy could be the best way to go for it. They have personality tests and can bring a change in your habit or ways in just about 17 days or more. Try to seek out couple’s therapy to bring the best husband or wife inside you.

5. Time-out steps

When you are in the middle of a gunnysack, then you can take a break in three steps:

Step 1: When you are having a weekly review, decide on a signal which will indicate that someone is close to having a meltdown. Hold up your hand during arguments so that the other person stops.

Step 2: Think about the relationship review and understand that if you are having an issue, you can also solve it during the relationship review of the week.

Step 3: After a meltdown, try to reconnect. By that time, your brain’s ability to understand the situation has changed and, now, you can approach it in a new way.

Bring these changes in your life and relationship and you can avoid gunnysacking. It will help your relationship to grow as well.

Featured Image Source: Lorenzo Rossi @

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