When Your Wife Yells at You: 5 Do’s and Don’ts
Marriage is hard. Very hard. And unfortunately, there are times when it can involve lots of yelling.
In an ideal world, couples would be able to have a calm, rational conversation about an issue, and often they can. But, sometimes, they lose control of their emotions, and they yell.
And, for many people, being yelled at is something that shuts them down.
In my work with clients, I have many men who just don’t know what to do when their wives yell at them. They feel like their reactions, or lack of, can make things worse and they just don’t know what to do.
I know that, for my husband, when I yell (which is rare) he says that his mind just shuts down. It’s blank. He has no idea what to do. I had no idea that this happened and when he told me it gave me a ton of information to share with my clients, men and women.
To that end, I thought I would share with you today the 5 do’s and don’ts that I tell my male clients when they say, ‘my wife yells at me, and I just don’t know what to do.’
Maybe these tips will help you get through these experiences in a productive way and might help prevent the yelling from happening in the future.
Do: Let her vent.
When your wife yells at you, she has lost control of her emotions. Chances are that she is yelling because she has a lot of pent-up issues, and, for some reason, feelings about them have erupted.
The best thing to do when she needs to vent is to let her do it. She needs to get it out of her system, her frustrations, and when she does, she might be able to express what she is feeling in a calmer, more rational manner.
Don’t: Walk away.
I know – it’s really hard when your wife yells at you. It’s really hard when anyone yells at you. And the temptation to walk away is huge.
But, if you walk away, you will do two things. The first is to anger her more, which will involve more, even louder, yelling. The other is that you will kick whatever the issue is down the road which, will, most likely lead, you to say ‘My wife yelled at me’ again soon.
So, do your best to stand your ground and listen to your wife as she yells at you. I know that it might take superhuman powers to do it. But, if you can, it will pay off in spades.
Do: Listen to her words.
I know that it might be difficult but, if you can, try to listen to the words that your wife is telling you. Yes, there might be a lot of very emotional, maybe unreasonable, things coming out of her mouth but hidden in there is the issue that she is upset about.
Why would you listen to the words of someone who is yelling at you, who is making you so uncomfortable by doing so, who is making you feel attacked? Because if you can try to understand what her issue is, when she is done venting, you might be able to address what she is so upset about.
Don’t: Shut her out or ignore her.
When my male clients say, ‘My wife yells at me all the time,’ I ask them what they do when she does. More often than not, my clients just don’t pay attention.
They might turn their back on her, focusing on another task. They might walk out of the room, not letting her express herself. They might look at their phone, ignoring her, waiting for the venting to be over.
This is pretty much the worst thing that you can do if your wife is yelling at you.
If your wife if yelling at you, pay attention. Again, you might have to be strong and block out the vitriol but, if she knows that you are listening, she will most likely calm down quicker.
Do: Stay calm
I know. I am asking you to stay really calm while your wife yells at you. Three times now, I have asked you.
For many people, two things happen when we are yelled at. First, we want to cut and run, to save ourselves from the pain of the yelling. The second is that we want to jump into the fray and start yelling ourselves.
We want to push back on the words that they are saying. We don’t listen to what they are trying to communicate but just focus on whatever we are going to say next. Our heart rate gets elevated and our instincts to protect ourselves kick in and we fight back.
And this, I am sure, if your wife yells at you, is not productive.
Don’t: Don’t yell back.
The next step to staying calm in the face of your wife yelling at you is to try as hard as you can to not yell back. I know that it might seem impossible, but if you can do it, it will go a long way toward the yelling being over and a possible discussion happening.
Many of my male clients really struggle with this. When they feel attacked, it is the male instinct to fight back and protect themselves. When someone they love attacks them, it is even worse.
They lose control of their emotions and raise their voice along with their wife. And this, I am afraid, willing only make the yelling escalate and lead down the road to nothing productive.
Do: Try to understand where she is coming from.
If you listen to your wife’s words, you might be able to get a sense of where she is coming from. The yelling is coming from somewhere – the key is figuring out where.
Sometimes, when we are on the other side of someone’s vitriol, we assume that, whatever they are yelling about is all about us. But, often, that isn’t the case.
Think about the times that your wife has yelled at you in the past. Has it always been about something that you have done? Or perhaps, maybe it’s about something else?
I know that, when I used to yell at my husband, is was often because of something else. Perhaps I was trying to cook dinner and the kids were being difficult, and his mother was calling and the dogs needed to be fed. He would walk in the door and ruffle through the mail pile, leaving it a mess, something that he did all the time which drove me crazy.
And, while the ruffling through the mail pile was something that I didn’t like, I generally didn’t address it. But, when things were chaotic, and I was frustrated, him doing that small action set me off.
I would yell at him for doing that and he would be bewildered at what he had done in the 30 seconds that he had been home which would make me so angry.
In fact, it really wasn’t him but it was what was going on around me.
So, know that understanding where your wife is coming from might help you manage it, and your emotions around it, so as not to escalate what was happening.
Don’t: Tell her that she is wrong.
Telling your wife that she is wrong in the middle of her yelling you will only get your head bitten off. No one likes to be told that they are wrong, especially a wife who is really angry with her husband.
Of course, you might think her wrong, and she very well could know that she is wrong, but telling her would be like prodding a tiger with a stick. She will only roar back at you, yelling loader, being more vicious.
When the fighting is done, you might be able to discuss what is happening, and she will see the error of her ways but, in the middle of it all, keep quiet. And calm.
Easier said than done, I know.
Do: Ask her what she needs from you.
Once her emotions are spent and she is no longer yelling at you, ask your wife what it is she needs from you.
Does she need some space to calm down after the yelling? Does she want to talk to you about what is going on. Does she need a hug? What is it that you can do to segue into the next part of this event.
I know that you probably aren’t feeling very loving towards your wife after she yells at you but the best way to prevent the yelling in the future is to act in a way now that is loving and supportive.
Don’t: Belittle her.
I have many clients who make the mistake of belittling their wives when they are yelling at them. They tell them that they are being ridiculous. They might perhaps mimic in a condescending way what their wife is saying. They might tell them that they are acting like a child.
Don’t do this. Again, I know that it’s difficult, but belittling someone who is already angry isn’t going to calm things down. It will only make the person doing the yelling feel that her actions are justified because you are, in fact, being a jerk.
In summary, knowing the 5 dos and 5 don’ts when you say to yourself, ‘my wife is yelling at me and I have no idea what to do.’
No one likes to be yelled at, ever. But there are ways to manage your wife’s emotions in the moment and maybe prevent the yelling from happening in the future.
All of this being said, know that if your wife’s yelling is escalating in frequency or noise levels, this is not ok. Yelling can be a form of emotional abuse that might need to be addressed. This article will tell you more about verbal abuse and what you can do to manage it.
If you find that the yelling is affecting your mental health, perhaps it will be time to get some help. Whether it’s talking to your health care professional about your options or trying to get you both into marriage counseling, if your wife’s yelling is only getting worse, it’s time to take action.
After all, taking care of yourself and your mental health is the yell to staying healthy through this challenging time and will keep you strong in the future should your wife yell at you again!