What To Say To Your Spouse When He’s Upset At The Kids
I once worked with a woman, Kathleen, whose husband often got angry at their kids. She had a hard time being with him after every outburst, but she coped with it for many years. One day I got a letter from Kathleen. In it, she told me her story and asked a crucial question:
“Can anybody tell me how to communicate with your spouse when he gets so easily upset at the kids?”
Here’s her story, retold with her permission…(Some details have been changed to protect her privacy.)
“It was almost time for bed. Our little family sat on the floor, ready for the reading of the day. My husband Carl began teaching, directing our son Ken to read the lesson of the day. Ken started, then fidgeted and lost focus. Our daughter Adrian pointed and laughed at him. Carl got up abruptly and left the room. I went on to finish the lesson with Adrian and Ken, hoping I hit all the points he had wanted to teach. Then we said our bedtime prayers and wished each other a good night.
Carl was sitting on the edge of our bed, arms crossed. As I entered our room, he stormed into the bathroom. Something was bothering him, something deeper than what I saw or heard in those moments right before the kids went to bed. What should I do?”
What do you do when your husband is mad at the kids for doing something you thought wasn’t all that bad?
If this ever happens in your home, here are two suggestions on how to communicate with your spouse when he is miffed at the kids:
- Choose your thinking carefully.
- Choose your words carefully.
What you say when your spouse has a strong emotional reaction can help or hurt the situation in an instant. Choose your thoughts before saying anything. Your words will stem from what you think. Determine in your mind not to assume you know best. Maybe your spouse had a rough day at work, and anything could have triggered his daddy tantrum. Seek to understand before you offer your thoughts.
In your mind, try to identify what your spouse might be feeling. Is it anger or rage? Bring to your mind his facial expression and body language. Were his brows furrowed? His mouth turned down? His arms crossed? If you cannot tell how he feels by visual observation alone, ask him gently. Something along the lines of, “I’m worried about you…something seems to be bothering you. Are you okay? How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do for you?”
Keep in mind, it’s easier to do this when you’re not tired but filled emotionally. Also, when you’re confident that it’s not you that he is mad at! Assess the situation and your own actions to be sure you don’t react emotionally to his emotions.
Another tip on how to communicate with your spouse during emotional interactions:
Determine ahead of time the best way you can show love to him. Do you enjoy giving words of encouragement or affirmation? Are you quick to observe needs to which you can offer a practical helping hand? Do you enjoy time spent just hanging out as companions? Do you like to give a tangible item to show you care? Maybe you give great hugs that speak more than a dozen words.
Preparing ahead of time equips you to respond well in the heat of the moment. When your spouse feels hurt, what he needs to know is, Does someone care that I’m hurt? Hopefully in your years of being together, a lot of the ways you show love best are the ways he receives love well. As you discover how to communicate with your spouse during heated moments, you can help him turn away anger.
Did you know you can train yourself to turn emotional heavy weight into positive energy you can use? I work with small groups of moms dedicated to improving their home ambiance through physical and emotional fitness. Click here for details on the next 7-Day Heart-Body Happiness Bootcamp.