In looking for relationship therapy, a client recently asked what is the best way to deal with his wife when she reacts with an angry tonality of raising her voice and expressing her feeling with strong emotions. It was a big deal because these differences caused them to withdraw from one another, and this was affecting the relationship.
And the longer this goes on, the more chance that differences solidify, and then it’s difficult to re-capture the magic.
So what’s the best way to deal with this challenge, so that it doesn’t cause a lasting negative impact on the relationship?
I’m going to explain this using a scene from the film Before Midnight with Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy as an example!
Make sure that healthy boundaries are in place!
One of the quickest ways to slip into negativity and resentment is where boundaries break down and we ‘merge’ into one another, taking on responsibility for other people or making decisions that rightly sit with the other person.
In our film, Jesse asks Celine that he can speak to his son before she hangs up the phone, but she hangs up anyway essentially making the decision that it wasn’t that important anyway and that he didn’t really need to speak to his son.
But hang on, I’ve just asked that I could speak to him BEFORE you hung up…?
It’s worth asking whether we are unconsciously or usually lazily allowing our partner to step into the other person’s business or decision making, and this can easily lead to resentment.
Break the pattern with (loving) humor!
If our partner is unsatisfied or frustrated that can easily come across as a judgement or criticism and a feeling that we are in the wrong – at least from their perspective. This can trigger us into defensiveness or even retaliation, which is based on a feeling of being threatened or in danger.
But are we really in danger?
Can our partner really hurt us, if we don’t allow ourselves to be hurt?
How could we reframe the situation so that we can see our partner as doing her best, but struggling and needing some support to escape from that difficult emotion? It is not easy for her to always be “The angry wife”.
One of the best ways of doing this is with (loving) humor.
In our film, Jesse creates an imaginary letter from the older version of Celine bringing her a humorous message from the future! He reads it, and gets into a dialogue of helping her make sense of what happened.
How could light, loving humor break the pattern and give you both new opportunities to show up differently?
Be ready to walk away…
Ultimately we can only INVITE our partner to join us, it’s up to them!
And the power of DETACHMENT is strong, as if we convey a feeling that we NEED the person to react a certain way in order for us to be ok, that can come across as needy and just makes the situation worse!
In the same scene, Jesse says something like ‘well it’s up to you, I’ve come here to support but if you don’t want to then it’s not going to work…’
… And gives her time to come back to him of her own accord.
And THEN she decides to join the game/ role play, and accepts his invitation to connect.
These are some of the ways to deal with an angry wife!
If this resonates, reach out with a DM or email and we can set up a call to see how we can help YOU make sense of your relationship challenge!
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