Puzzles can be a problem in our marriages. These are those times your first awareness is a sharp emotional pain (hurt, anger, guilt, inadequacy) that comes on suddenly with a word or act. You may try to ignore it and go on, but more often than not, it just keeps going over and over in your mind as the day progresses and grows bigger and bigger - while your partner is unaware and has not thought about it at all. Then your behavior is colored by this emotional pain and you may even start an argument when your partner has no idea what is going on with you.
So, where do they come from? We all have "filters" that color our perception and interpretation of events - personality, experiences, sensitivities, preferences, beliefs, etc. and it is the meaning we assign these events that influence our emotional reaction. These happen so quickly that we may not even pay attention to our part in the process (this thinking - assigning of meaning).
So, how do we solve these puzzles and keep them from ruining a day or creating an argument? Simply let the negative emotion be a cue to you to check out the intent with your partner (expecting the best) by just letting them know that when _____ was said or done, that did not feel good to me. What were you intending to communicate or did you mean for my feelings to be hurt? etc. This does two things: (1) it gives your partner a chance to clear up what may be a misunderstanding of the intended message on your part or (2) it gives your partner the chance to apologize for being critical or terse (all of us will have times when we could have been more pleasant about the way we express ourselves).
This works best when both partners know about "puzzles" and are willing to be kind when the other needs some reassurance. If both will help in solving these puzzles many hurt feelings and angry days can be avoided while also providing opportunities to build one another up.
"But encourage one another daily, while it is called today.... Hebrews 3:13