After the third time your husband has stayed out late with friends while you're at home looking after the kids, it can be difficult to contain your emotions. Letting them out in an argument is rarely helpful, however, as it shifts the focus from his behavior to your feelings of distress. Whether the problem you and your husband are having is huge or small, it's important to manage your emotions so that they don't interfere with effective marital problem-solving.
1. Physical Distance
When you're upset because your husband is choosing to watch a baseball game instead of mowing the foot-high grass in the yard, staying in the living room and watching him relax in his recliner can feel unbearable. Physically remove yourself from the situation and go meet a friend for coffee so you don't spend your afternoon fuming about his lack of responsibility. Or take the kids out for the afternoon. If he's hurt your feelings during an argument, go for a walk. Sticking around will only increase the chances that you'll retaliate with your emotions.
2. Change Focus
When your husband stands by passively as your mother-in-law suggests that your child-rearing practices leave something to be desired, it can be tempting to ruminate on what he should have said or engage in an argument. Regain a calm composure so that you can address marital issues later in a rational manner. To do so, shift your focus from the action that enraged you to something else entirely, such as which outfit you should wear to your cousin's birthday party next week. Focusing on what's in your closet rather than upon your husband's remarks, or lack thereof, can help calm your mind.
3. Question Your Assumptions
When you're upset with your husband, you may have underlying assumptions that are fueling your negative emotions. You may be overgeneralizing and assuming that negative events are going to occur over and over again, says Dr. Timothy Sharp of The Happiness Institute. Challenge these assumptions. For example, if you catch yourself thinking that you are doomed to live in a pig sty the remainder of your life because your husband won't pick up after himself, remind yourself that hiring a maid is always an option. If you are upset because your husband has an ongoing flirtation with his boss, however, you will need to acknowledge your feelings and address the situation when you are calm.
Acknowledge that you are experiencing uncomfortable emotions and accept them as part of your present reality, advises counselor Meg Selig in a February 2012 article in "Psychology Today." Note that accepting your feelings doesn't mean you have to like them or the situation. Realize that you are not your feelings. For example, you may be feeling upset at your husband after learning that he declined a promotion. This doesn't mean you are a hate-filled individual -- just that some unpleasant feelings are currently passing through you. Your feelings are temporary and harmless as long as you don't act on them.
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