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Can People Pleasing Lead to Marriage Problems?

People pleasing is more prevalent than you might think. At its core, it can often be viewed as a good thing. Taking responsibility for your actions, seeking to treat people with respect, kindness and generosity – these things are good, right?

The problem is, when the ultimate goal starts to become ‘keeping people happy all the time,’ you are in trouble. Indeed, the worst possible scenario any people pleaser can face is engaging with someone who is angry at them for something they did. So, where does this behavioral tendency originate, and how can we deal with it?

Well, much of this mentality is nurtured in the early years of childhood. It is likely that people pleasers had an overprotective or a hypercritical parent. Either one of these experiences has a high chance of leaving you with some residual anxiety and a propensity to want to please people.

When a parent is hypercritical, the child is likely to feel on edge most of the time. Additionally, the child will spend a lot of their time figuring out how they can satisfy the demands of their parents. Thus, they neglect their own feelings and fail to learn how to adequately manage their own emotions. Their life begins to revolve around pleasing their parents.

“Being away from the house can be stressful for these kids. That’s because they are unable to monitor the moods and atmosphere of the home environment when they are gone. Then returning home requires an assessment of the prevailing mood so these young pleasers can adjust their behavior accordingly,” write Milan and Kay Yerkovich in their brilliant book, How We Love.

People Pleasing In Marriage

When you apply this mentality to a spouse, you paint an emotional landscape that is fraught with tension, stress, and anxiety. When conflict inevitably arises, the people pleasing spouse does not possess the emotional tools to deal with it healthily.

It is likely that the spouse’s parents never taught them how to adequately manage intimidating or difficult relational situations. The response may be to flee, or to make gestures that may appear selfless, but are in fact driven by a fear over their spouse’s reaction.

Another key issue that people pleasers face is the utter inability to establish essential boundaries in their relationships. Driven by an insatiable desire to please, they end up over-burdening themselves with commitments. They possess an aversion to saying “no,” fearing the consequences or potential relational fall out of refusing to do something. It is an exhausting predicament.

What Does the Bible Say about People Pleasing?

Well, the Scriptures are pretty clear. People pleasing is rooted in fear, and the Bible speaks directly against that. The Bible instead calls us to seek boldness, and urges us to embrace the firm foundation that can only be found in Him.

When we are rooted in the truth of God, we will not feel shaken every time someone criticizes us or we fall short of high expectations. Instead, we are living for God’s glory and not the praises of man. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).

Christian Counseling For People Pleasers

Behavioral tendencies are notoriously difficult to break, particularly if they are rooted deep in your childhood. But with the right help, it is possible to witness great change.

A professional Christian counselor in Newport beach is trained to combine proven therapeutic methods with essential spiritual principles in order to assist you in getting free from people pleasing and enabling you to move into a greater freedom in your life. A Christian counselor has the ability to provide you with certain behavioral tools that will help you manage those scary situations and assist you in cultivating healthy relationships.

“Field gazing,” courtesy of,, CC0 License; “Kiss,” courtesy of taoheed_kasumu,, CC0 License; “Happiness,” courtesy of Andrew Welch,, CC0 License; “Couple reading the Bible,” courtesy of Ben White,, CC0 License