Uncontrolled emotions are relationship-killers. It may sound strange to you that the same energy that brings two people together can also break them apart. But that’s exactly how it is.
When you love a person, what he or she does, thinks, or says, affects you a lot more than what other people do, say, or think. Why? Because you are emotionally attached. So when your boss says to you, “This report is crap”, you may get upset but will quickly get over it. However, if your husband or wife says the same thing, you may take it with you to your grave — and bring it up in every other argument before you finally pack up.
Here’s the advice:
If your negative emotions are running high — anger, hurt, hate, shame, etc. — then don’t pour them all out on your partner. It’s not fair on him or her. What should you do about your feelings instead? Whatever helps you soothe and calm yourself down. Cry, if you must. Pray. Scream into a brown bag. Write three pages in your diary in a fury. Go for a walk. Whatever works for you, do it.
Then, when your emotions are down and your brain is back in control, go and deal with the problem rationally. Emotions are the wrong tool to solve problems.
The flip side: If you find yourself at the foot of your partner’s emotional mountain and an avalanche is coming at you, you’ll probably have no time to run for cover — nor should you. That would only anger your partner even more. If that happens, here’s what you should do:
Incarnate an exemplary customer service representative.
People who work in customer service know this: You can’t reason with an angry customer. The best you can do when an irate, annoyed customer unleashes her frustrations on you is to empathise, apologise, understand, and fix her problem. The worst you can do is get upset yourself and respond in kind.
So when your partner behaves like that angry customer, understand there’s probably a very good reason for his or her anger. Listen to what it is. Empathise. Apologise if you’re responsible for all or part of the problem. And while keeping a cool head, decide what you can and will do to fix the problem. And if a customer rep can do it for the money, you can do it for the love. You just need to decide inside yourself that this will be your new way of dealing with your partner’s emotions — and also your own.