Does it seem like your wife is always mad at you and you’re not sure what you can do to make things better? Perhaps you find yourself walking on eggshells around her or staying out of her way entirely for fear of making her angry. It’s not pleasant to live with a nagging feeling that everything you do or say will upset your spouse. So what can you do to fix it?
In order to shift to a more harmonious dynamic with your wife, you’ll need to determine what actions or circumstances result in her irritability. It could be something that you’re doing or not doing. But the reason for your wife’s anger could be the result of something she’s feeling or experiencing that doesn’t have much to do with you. You may simply be picking up on her emotions but you’re not necessarily the cause of her upset. Once you identify what’s behind your wife’s anger, you can make things better.
Is It About You, Her, Or Both?
Understanding what’s behind your wife’s anger will allow you to take appropriate action. First, consider whether she’s upset at you for something you’ve done (or didn’t do). It doesn’t need to be something you’re doing deliberately. Maybe it’s just that you’re frequently running late or are distracted and forgetful, and that’s affecting family life.
Next, consider what’s going on in your wife’s life which may be affecting her mood. Is she just cranky? Are there outside stresses like caring for ailing parents? It’s common for someone to be upset about difficulties in any part of their life, and take out their aggression at home onto the people they love.
Perhaps both you and your wife are going through a rough patch. You may be struggling with a lack of intimacy or disagreements about children or finances. Keep in mind, this isn’t about laying blame or making accusations. It’s simply about finding out the root cause of the issue in order to effectively find a lasting resolution.
If The Issue Is About You
If you’ve determined the trigger is something that you’re doing, take responsibility for the repair process by following these 4 steps:
Own your mistake: Identify what you did which upset your wife and admit that this was a mistake. Whether you weren’t paying attention to her, forgot to do something, or ignored her request altogether, take responsibility for your actions.
Express empathy: Show that you understand how your actions (or inaction) made her feel. This creates a connection and bridge between partners. This may be hard to do, but it’s important to learn this important communication tool.
Say what you should have done: When you articulate something, it actually creates a rewiring in your brain. This makes it more likely to ultimately create behavior change. It also illustrates to your partner that you acknowledge a better solution, action, or behavior, and shows that you are actively participating in making improvements to your relationship.
State the benefit or outcome if you had responded better: Identifying the benefit of making a behavior change creates positive reinforcement, deepens your connection, and actually makes it more likely you will follow through with the proposed change in the future. When you and your partner can share a positive vision of the future, it helps motivate both of you to make changes in service of the relationship.
If The Issue Is About Her
If the trigger is something she’s experiencing, and is not about you, validate your wife’s feelings and offer emotional support. Ask what you can do to help once you understand exactly what’s behind her anger.
What not to say: “You’ve been in a terrible mood for months now and it’s really unpleasant to live with. You really need to get your act together because this anger is really getting old.”
What to say: “I noticed you’ve been stressed and irritable lately. I know you have a lot going on at work and you’re working long hours and you’re still doing the bulk of the housework. I’d like to take on more household chores so you have more time to rest. Would it be helpful if I dealt with laundry and breakfasts? What else can I do to make things easier for you?
If The Issue is About Both Of You
If the root cause of the issue is a combination, then apply both tactics described above. Try to take on one or two improvements at a time. This will ensure that neither one of you gets overwhelmed and even more stressed.
It’s worth noting that past trauma causes shorter fuses. If your wife has some history of trauma, figuring out how to navigate her emotional triggers is tricky. Usually the best tactic is to create more emotional connection and identify strategies for her to self-soothe. It may not be your responsibility to soothe your partner, but you can still have a significant positive impact. Strong communication skills are the key to effectively responding to emotional triggers and bringing calm back into your home.
If you’re ready to make improvements in your relationship, follow the link below to learn about effective communication tools and strategies.