Skip to content

Overwhelmed in Marriage?

pam-bill-helm-boatThis past year has been one of the MOST CHALLENGING in our marriage: a home remodel to get home ready to sell,

a home sale that took over a year and included  being in escrow three times before the sale was final, downsizing 90% of our belongings to move nearer Bill’s aging parents (one who is frail of body, the other frail in mind), and we are currently living on a beautiful country vineyard of a relative, driving a few hours each way to catch flights for speaking or to look at  boats (we plan to liveaboard a boat). Yes, life has been rigorous! In the middle of all this, my friends Kathi Lipp and Cheri Gregory, sent me an advanced copy of their book, OVERWHELMED, asking if I would like to read for a possible  endorsement.


Endorse it I did! Overwhelmed was EXACTLY the hope and help I needed when I was feeling VERY OVERWHELMED.

Enjoy this excerpt—may it help you feel a little less OVERWEHLMED today too!Overwhelmed Cover lipp gregory

What Overwhelms Me May Not Overwhelm My Spouse

“Why is this glass on the counter?” my husband asks. I turn and stare. “I have no idea.” “Well, is it yours?” he asks. “I don’t remember getting it out,” I reply. “But you know that doesn’t mean I didn’t; I may have and then forgotten.” Daniel sighs, puts the glass in the dishwasher, and walks away.

Alone in the kitchen, I have a conversation with myself, processing what just happened.


Reactive Cheri:  Why does he have to make a big deal over a glass?

Empathetic Cheri:  I guess it isn’t “nothing” to him.

Reactive Cheri:  But it’s just a glass!


Empathetic Cheri:  To you, it’s just a glass. To him, it’s an unsolved mystery, a question without an answer. For his brain, that’s overwhelming.


Reactive Cheri:  Are you sure he’s not just trying to get on my last nerve?


Empathetic Cheri:  100% positive. He’s a totally different personality than you, so what overwhelms him is totally different from what overwhelms you.

What You Need to Know About the Four Personality Types

I known for decades that understanding the four personality types helps me bring out the positives in all my relationships.

But recently, I’ve come to realize that a deep understanding of the personalities also helps me understand what overwhelms others.

If you’re not familiar with the four personality types, here’s a quick run-down:


Life goal:  to have fun Major needs:  attention and approval Analytic

Life goal:  to achieve perfection Major needs:  order and sensitivity


Life goal:  to have control Major needs:  achievement and appreciation Amiable

Life goal:  to keep peace Major needs:  respect and self-worth For a more in-depth exploration of your personality type, take our online personality assessment.


What Overwhelms Each Personality

What Overwhelms an Expressive

Expressives become overwhelmed when life is no fun.  They can handle just about anything if they’re having a good time doing it. But when they have to grit their teeth to get through a boring or painful situation, that is when they start feeling completely overwhelmed.

What Overwhelms an Analytic

An Analytic becomes overwhelmed when life is imperfect. An analytic is unsettled and may not be able to think straight, when things are out of order. This can easily become overwhelming for them.

What Overwhelms a Driver

Drivers become overwhelmed when life is out of control. Surprises are not the Drivers’ friend. When goals or expectations have been set (by themselves or others) and cannot be met, that is a sure way of overwhelming a Driver.

What Overwhelms an Amiable

Amiables become overwhelmed when life is full of pressure from others. None of us like to be pressured, but this is particularly overwhelming to an Amiable whose whole goal is to be at peace and get along with others.

3 Benefits of Understanding What Overwhelms Your Spouse


Learning what overwhelms your spouse can keep you from being overwhelmed by petty frustrations over their seemingly irrational behavior.

Understanding what overwhelms the one you love helps you develop three key aspects of intimacy:

1)  Curiosity

When you ask yourselves, “What overwhelms him/her?” you’re recognizing that your spouse is different from you. Instead sitting as a critic, you’re positioning yourself as a learner.

2)  Empathy


When you remind yourself, “I get overwhelmed, too” you’re doing the highly empathetic work of translating your spouse’s external signals into a message you can understand internally. Instead of polarizing the differences between your overwhelm triggers, you’re focusing on what you have in common: the experience of feeling overwhelmed.

3)  Intentionality

Curiosity and empathy lead to asking, “How can I best support my spouse when (s)he’s feeling overwhelmed?” Instead of getting annoyed, holding back, or even hiding, you seek healthy ways your spouse can have less stress and ways to increase the peace.

Gift from Pam and Bill:

Discuspam bill close rebecca beachsions like this one from OVERWHELMED can really help couples process stress. (It helped us! I am a DRIVER and my husband is AMIABLE) Learning ways to help the other feel less stressed lowered our feelings of being OVERWHELMED. The other tool that helped Bill and I survive and thrive in this past stressful year was our WEEKLY Marriage Meeting Worksheet. We would meet, pray, plan and prepare for God to help us handle issues on the road ahead. Download the Marriage Meeting worksheet, and pick up a copy of OVERWHELMED—and you will soon feel the waves of peace coming over your



Gift from Cheri and Kathi:


Instead of making New Year’s resolutions (that will only last for a week), how about creating a Personal manifestoKathi and Cheri Photo overwhelmed that will carry you through the rest of your life?  Sign up for great ideas and resources about how to get out from Overwhelmed and you will receive “How to Write Your Personal Manifesto” as our gift to you. Get off the overwhelming cycle of making and breaking resolutions and create a gentle plan for lasting life change.




About Overwhelmed


Feeling overwhelmed? Wondering if it’s possible to move from “out of my mind” to “in control” when you’ve got too many projects on your plate and too much mess in your relationships?


Kathi and Cheri want to show you five surprising reasons why you become stressed, why social media solutions don’t often work, and how you can finally create a plan that works for you. As you identify your underlying hurts, uncover hope, and embrace practical healing, you’ll understand how to…


  • trade the to-do list that controls you for a calendar that allows space in your life
  • decide whose feedback to forget and whose input to invite
  • replace fear of the future with peace in the present


You can simplify and savor your life—guilt free! Clutter, tasks, and relationships may overwhelm you now, but God can help you overcome with grace.




Kathi Lipp is a busy conference and retreat speaker and the bestselling author of several books, including Clutter Free, The Husband Project, and The Get Yourself Organized Project. She and her husband, Roger, live in California and are the parents of four young adults.


Cheri Gregory spends her weekdays teaching teens and weekends speaking at women’s retreats. She’s been married to her college sweetheart, Daniel, for more than 28 years. The Gregorys and their young adult kids, Annemarie and Jonathon, live in California.


Disclaimer:  This blog post reflects one woman’s experience. Each marriage is unique; what works for one couple may not work for another. A marriage that involves abuse, addiction, adultery, abandonment, and/or apathy is beyond the scope of this blog post and may need the intervention of a trained counselor.

Back To Top