I have been following you on Black and Married with Kids for sometime now, and I appreciate the advice that you provide to singles and couples. I was hesitant to write you, but I broke down because I am very close to leaving the woman I swore to love forever.
My wife and I have been married for 10 years, and I have been dealing with her out of control emotions since we got married. She does not manage her emotions well and is upset all the time.
She attacks me because I do not like to interact with her when she is emotional. I tell her that I do not feel like dealing with all that emotional stuff. I also tell her to come back and talk to me after she has dealt with her emotions. She is very sensitive and lashes out whenever she feels emotional.
Obviously, as a result of her sensitive and volatile nature, I do not like communicating with her. Please help me. How can I better communicate with my overly emotional wife? Or should I leave if I continue to be unhappy with her moods in our marriage?
Fed Up Husband
Dear Fed Up Husband,
Thanks for following me. Dealing with emotionally charged individuals can be overwhelming and challenging, especially when the encounters occur frequently. Given this, I empathize with you.
Over the years, I have learned that people who are consumed with intense emotion typically do not like the feeling. Most people get worked up because they often do not receive the kind of support they feel they need.
In your wife’s case, I would argue she probably felt invalidated by you and others for an extended period time. Individuals who feel invalidated increase their emotional intensity to get their needs met and often do not learn how to regulate their emotions. With this in mind, the best thing that you can do to better cope with your wife is to validate her.
Validating your wife simply means that you recognize and accept her internal experience as being justifiable. How she feels is real to her. Though you may not see her emotional response as reasonable, you cannot argue how she feels internally.
Instead of debating or arguing about her emotions, just validate them. Let her know that you are open to listening and discussing her emotions, but do not agree with the manner in which she expresses them.
As a therapist, in my experience, I have learned that most individuals focus on the negative emotional energy and often fail to discuss the source. She might be justified in feeling however she feels. Seeking to understand the source will demonstrate you care.
Most people, especially men do not practice validation because we are afraid to show support when our wives appear to be out of control emotionally. However, here are three benefits for practicing validation.
1. Validation makes all of us feel understood and valued
Listening to what drives a person and seeking to comfort them is the quickest way to show appreciation for them. Step back, and ask yourself what would you want if you were upset.
This might help you gain more insight into her wife’s needs. Try not to focus on the source of her intense emotions, and tell her you are willing to help work through them. She will feel valued and become less defensive if you demonstrate you care about her emotional well-being.
2. Validation is a great conflict resolution tool
If you want to deescalate conflict with your wife and bring calmness, practice validation. Your wife probably wants you to accept her through the good and bad.
When your wife gets really emotional, she is probably feeling rejection. By demonstrating validation you are telling her that you accept her. This in return brings calmness. And when she is calm, you can better discuss solutions and remedies, which may in turn prevent future incidents.
3) Validation restores hope and saves marriages
Being listened to and accepted unconditionally can change hopelessness into hopefulness. When people feel hopeful, they are more willing to fight for their marriage.
Hope provides a means for progression. Through validation, you can help your wife believe in you and others. This in return, can save your marriage.
Remember that you do not have to like or agree with your wife’s intense emotional energy. However, you probably will not be able to cope with it unless you validate her.
Feeling rejected or misunderstood are powerful emotions that trigger the worse in us. Try to spend more time validating your wife, and you will probably see a difference in her emotional disposition. Love worth having is love worth working for. Demonstrating a little validation might be worth the work.
If you have questions for Dr. Dwayne Buckingham regarding relationships (married, single, etc), parenting, or personal growth and development, please send an email to [email protected]
Disclaimer: The ideas, opinions and recommendations contained in this post are not intended as a substitute for seeking professional counseling or guidance. Any concerns or questions that you have about relationships or any other source of potential distress should be discussed with a professional, in person. The author is not liable or responsible for any personal or relational distress, loss or damage allegedly arising from any information or recommendations in this post.