Why is it that some relationships always seem so pleasant and perfect. The couple is happy, they appear well-off, enjoy spending time and doing things together. Then there is us, the couple that spends every waking moment fighting or avoiding each other and the relationship appears to be in utter ruins; I ask again, why is this?
Ok, I had to dig back some years there, because yes my relationship was there. We were constantly fighting or avoiding spending time together. We made it out, together in one piece and you can too. But know this, the couple who appears to be doing well in every area is no different then the couple that appears to be in ruins. I mean, they are both capable of creating an ideal living environment where their relationship can thrive and be enjoyable. The difference lies in how each partner perceives the relationship, as well as, the goals of the relationship.
Relationships must have goals. Not just simply: where we want to live or how much we need for retirement; but also, what do we want to experience as a couple and what type of environment we want to share together. By having goals, the couple can set a benchmark of what they want to learn and accomplish together each week, month, and year, and they can get to work finding and studying the resources that will allow this to happen.
If the couple doesn’t put emphasis on growing their relationship and setting goals, they often won’t pay much attention to the condition of the relationship, or its environment, until it’s much too late. It is at this point where the couple will start to have daily complications. Because they don’t spend time each day and week analyzing the condition of the relationship, it is easy for pressure to build.
Communication is key, folks!
Without regular communication, how can a couple know exactly what is going on with each other? I understand that we don’t always want to talk about every feeling we have. However, a simple conversation about one thing can lay down some pretty heavy clues about another thing, such as; why their behavior has lately come across as difficult, or, why they seem mad at us.
We often don’t need to dig to get answers. In many instances, if we create a comfortable and safe environment, people will open up about the intimate details and issues in their life on their own. But we need to be in the habit of having open conversation. Otherwise, it might seem awkward to just let it all out. If we pry for information, we move away from a comfortable environment into a situation of interrogation.
Instead, each day we can agree to make a routine to sit for half-hour or something after work and just have a coffee and a chat. Just regular talking among friends. Couples are friends, right?
During this time, ask questions about work, about other things in their life, and even about the relationship. Instead of questions like: “Where were you at 3 pm when I called your office,” or, “Why are you so angry all the time?” try asking questions like: “How is work going?” “Do you feel this relationship is going the right way for us?”
Some couples will prefer the direct approach and straight up ask the difficult questions, but for many people, we don’t want to be interrogated. We want to be given a chance to talk freely and express ourselves comfortably. By asking softer questions, like: “How was your day today?” they are more likely to tell us, and if there was a big issue, they will likely tell us that too. This way, we can then see; okay, they are having a tough time at work; that’s probably why they seem so angry.
I’ve noticed a growing trend among couples struggling to get along, and constantly fighting. This lead me to write 12 Weeks In Colorado a fiction novel based on real-life, everyday struggles people face in life and relationships. We get to peer in and see how the couples resolve these issues first hand, and take from that methods we can use to improve our own relationships.
3 reasons your partner might seem mad at you
There are many reasons why our partner might come across as mad at us, and in this article, we will discuss three potential reasons.
- Stress in their life
- You’re doing something wrong
- They need to vent
- They are simply, just a jerk
1. Stress in their life
As we already touched on, it’s possible that our partner is dealing with something heavy in their personal life. This could be something at work, such as; a co-worker is being difficult, the boss is pushing too hard, they aren’t doing well at their job, the job is dead-end, and the person is feeling like all is hopeless.
It’s also possible that there is something going on with their friends, or maybe the lack thereof. It really doesn’t take much to throw off the balance of life. We have many needs, and if one or more aren’t being met properly, we can get upset and frustrated.
Okay, so I understand that people have issues, but why do they take it out on me?
Although there might be other underlying reasons, I personally know that we tend to hurt those we love. Our partner is our safe-zone, and when we allow pressure to bottle up for too long, it must come out somewhere. But if we let it out at work, we might get fired; if we let it out on our friends, they might not want to be friends anymore. However, if we let it out on our partner, they most likely won’t leave us or present us with some form of negative consequence.
I have done this many times to my wife. I am certainly not proud that I acted this way, but it was a reality for us. I have had bad days where I just wanted to let someone “have it,” but didn’t want to sabotage my job or anything else. The real issue was that I didn’t understand exactly how to deal with my emotions, and I allowed myself to get comfortable turning my frustrations towards my wife.
What did this look like? Well, sometimes I would be grumpy; sometimes I would say mean things or say insulting stuff to her for no reason; and sometimes, I would just give a silent treatment with an angry look on my face for no apparent reason at all. Our relationship was in a state of distress until I learned to communicate with her and deal with pressure appropriately.
2.You’re doing something wrong
There is always a possibility that we aren’t fully perfect; that we do, in fact, do things that gets on others’ nerves. I know, it’s unlikely, but let’s visit this anyway.
There is a term, “Pet Peeve.” This refers to something that particularly annoys us. For some, it might be the way someone leaves their dirty dishes in their room or on the coffee table; for others, it might be the way their partner sneezes or snores.
Whatever it is, when our partner does this thing that annoys us most, it can soon start to wear on us heavily. So why don’t we just tell them right away?
Some do, and those are the couples who find a solution. But many don’t. Who likes hurting people’s feelings, right? Most of us don’t. So, instead of bringing up the underlying issue and looking for a solution, we keep it to ourselves and bottle it up. As the pressure builds, we start noticing other things they do that tick us off. But we don’t say anything. The pressure keeps building. Soon, we get to a point where we are actually not enjoying being in their presence, but since we must, we can develop an attitude or some form of negative body language.
If we are experiencing a situation where our partner seems to always be mad when around us, but not anyone else, we need to start looking at whether we are doing something we know of, and we are also wise to say something like, “I have noticed that we spend more time upset then having fun; is there something I could work on to make it better?” This will open a doorway for conversation at least.
3. They need to vent
Sometimes, they just need to vent. Just like in the first point I made about too much stress and pressure building, it will come to a point where it needs to come out. Depending on who is around when the pressure releases, it might be construed as an attack towards that person. In reality, the person just has too much going on and they get to a point where they can’t maintain their composure any longer.
This is still an issue with communication, but it does happen often. If our partner is needing to vent, we can assist them with this to a degree. Through communication, we can talk with them about the issue, we can even share in their emotion to some degree by siding with them for the moment until the escalated emotion returns to a calm state.
There is a line where we can vent and throw a little fit to release some pressure, but we must draw that line at a point where innocent people are getting attacked. There really should be some safety with our partner where we are able to vent and release some pressure, but we must be sure to maintain a level of respect and dignity for them while doing so.
My wife still hears me vent all the time. I don’t do it directly to her, but rather, in front of her. I am learning to manage my emotions and situations better in the moment, so it doesn’t bottle up, but there are still times where it happens. The same is true for her; when something she is working on isn’t going well, I can get caught in the crossfire simply by asking her questions or talking to her about something that isn’t related to her issues. I have a choice to take it as an attack on me or I can see that she is struggling and offer to help her work out a solution or give her space.
They are simply, just a jerk!
Ok, I know this is a fourth reason and may not apply in your situation, but hear me out.
I have just been a real jerk many times. This is where my own life and doings become more important than anyone else’s. It’s not so much as a conceitedness, but rather, too much self-focus. We can get to a point where we just want to do what we want and when we have a problem, we only want people around us to drop what they’re doing and help us solve our issues.
If we get to doing this too much, we can effectively come across as a jerk, or an ass. So, when those around us don’t work to make our life easy, we can get grumpy and maybe even a bit mean to them.
Of course, when it comes to our partner, we will often have an understanding of their normal behavior patterns, and we will know if they are under pressure or just a jerk.
What you can do to help the situation
For the reasons that I listed, the primary solution is going to be communication. This is necessary to uncover the underlying issue. If the couple practices regular communication, it will be easier to spot external pressures that just need to be released and worked through, and not take it too personally.
Again, daily communication doesn’t have to be heavy topics. Instead, we can stay in the know through regular conversations and we can be effective support for them as they get through the tough times. We can get in the habit of responding to their negative behavior in a productive and constructive manner, instead of reacting to them and getting defensive.
If our partner seems to always be upset with us, we need to consider whether we have been engaging in conversation with them about it or just letting it go on and on. Yes, their behavior might not be that great, but we can be at fault in the situation by passively sitting back and letting it break down the relationship.
Practicing calm communication and letting them know that we are on their side, we can then offer to help in any way possible and express our need for them to be loving and caring to us; not angry and hostile.
Sometimes the issue is medical. My father suffered from manic depression and he had days where he was just upset with everything and everyone. For people who have manic depression and/or bipolar, the obvious choice for the relationship is to get professional help and possibly medication to regain control. Sometimes this is the only solution. Then, it helps to understand stressors and triggers and do what we can to keep those away, or minimized at least.
If we find that our relationship is on rocky grounds for whatever reason, we need to become investigators, not spectators. If our own partner is mistreating us, we need to ask them to sit with us and have a calm conversation about what’s going on. Let them know that it isn’t about pointing fingers, but instead, to pinpoint the bottom issue and get through it together.
Even if this doesn’t go perfectly smooth, as tension and emotions can still rise, we will at least be chipping away at the roots of the issue instead of simply avoiding the swinging branches, or moods.
If this article has helped you in any way, or if you have any tips and pointers that would be helpful to other couples, please leave a comment below for others to enjoy.
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How to get your spouse to hear you, by Mort Fertel.