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Mark Goulston, M.D.

Better communication with stressed spouse

In this Twoology video, relationship expert, Mark Goulston, M.D., says to communicate with your stressed-out spouse, it’s good to be aggressive, but not hostile. If you’re tied to a principle, you have conviction. Don’t ask if you can help, just help. Take responsibilities off your spouse to help them relax. Stressed-out people often cannot let people in to help them, so sometimes you have to take charge and force yourself into your partner’s life so you can help them deal with their stress. Set goals for reducing stress in both of your lives.

How can I communicate with my stressed-out spouse?  You have a stressed out spouse. They’re scared. They’re scaring you with the way that they’re acting. You’re actually more concerned about their stress than the fact that they’re disappointing you. They may think that they’re disappointing you because they’re not dealing well with their job or the economy. And, I have a saying, “Aggression plus principle equals conviction.” What that means is that it’s good to be aggressive, but not hostile, and, if you’re tied to a principle, you have conviction.

So, your spouse is stressed out, and you might be feeling sort of aggressive about doing something. Here’s the principle: If you would say to your spouse that you don’t need her permission or blessing to step in and help her when she can’t help yourself. This is one of those, and that you want to help her so that she can feel better. And, you don’t need her permission to do that because you love her. So, saying something like that to her will allow you to help her, without the need to discuss in great detail why she’s stressed, which can, ultimately, stress her out more. They’re too busy listening to their own voices about how things are going to be awful. They need you to be the voice of reason and comfort.

I remember one time my wife was stressed out, and what I said to her was, “Okay, here’s a question: We’re going for a walk, and you have a choice. Do you want to wear a sweater, or do you want to wear a coat? It’s kind of chilly outside.” And she looked at me and she said, “You don’t like to go on walks.” And I said, “You’re darn right, I don’t like to go on walks, but you do. And, I like even less how you’re stressed out, so we’re going for a walk because there’s a chance that it will help you feel better. And that’s important to me.”

Taking charge, as opposed to trying to get into a discussion or getting their permission, often works best. Because stressed out people can’t give you anything, you need to be the one to give instructions and make decisions.  Don’t ask if you can help, just help. Take responsibilities off your spouse to help them relax. Stressed-out people often cannot let people in to help them, so sometimes you have to take charge and force yourself into your partner’s life so you can help them deal with their stress. Set goals for reducing stress in both of your lives.

By Twoology

Copyright – 2013-14 – Tunomi Unlimited Incorporated (Twoology)

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