How to Calm Down an Upset Husband or Wife

Four steps to calm down your husband or wife


angry husband and wifeSTEP ONE. Get your thinking straight.

Don’t be surprised or upset by your spouse’s reaction.  Get your thinking straight. Don’t blame your spouse for being upset. Remind yourself that he or she doesn’t want to be upset–nobody likes being upset. He or she would much rather be loving you, but needs your help to do that. You can either help him to do that, or you can focus on other things you need to do while you give him time. Calm yourself. Don’t be upset because he or she is upset. It isn’t necessary. 

STEP TWO. Listen and let your spouse’s pressure out.

Listen to any continued attacks without defending or counterattacking. This should prevent another argument flare up.  Just listen.  Don’t try to calm, don’t try to reason.  Listen, listen, listen.  Let him or her get it all out. Put your hand on your mouth if you need to stop yourself from talking when you are listening. Keep your mind on your goal of making up. There will be a better time for correcting misinformation.

STEP THREE. Back off.

If your spouse is very upset, back off and come back later.  He or she still needs to calm down more.  Try again later.  Don’t give up.  Don’t demand a quick return to normal and don’t give a lot of attention to him/her.  You don’t want to teach him that he can get a lot of attention by sulking.  Let him or her get bored with it.  If he runs out, don’t chase him down. In coaching, clients learn the difference between wanting to work on things and being needy. Waiting until he or she is ready will keep you from appearing needy. (Learn more about when to give space or not give space).

STEP FOUR. Be agreeable

If your spouse is relatively calm, but is still attacking, think about his or her statements and agree with whatever you can without giving apologies, without defending, and without giving reasons.  If you can’t do this, tell him or her that you need some time to consider what he or she is saying and then go away until you can find something that you agree with. Just as points of differences divide people, points of agreement pull them together.

Example One–The Selfishness Jab

You’re calm and want to make up.  Your wife says that all you care about is yourself.  Wanting to agree with her without apologizing, defending, or attacking, you respond, “Sometimes I do get that way.”  Or “If I were you, I’d probably think the same thing.” That’s it. Continue to be focused on listening and looking for agreement.

Example Two–The Sneak Attack

You are being calm while your spouse is not.  There is a good chance that while you are trying to help your spouse to be calm, he/she will say something to make you really upset—a real low blow.  Best thing to do—let it go, walk away. If she demands a response, then tell her that what she is saying is a very important subject, but you want to wait until you can both talk nicely to each other before you discuss it.  Say that you both need to recover a little more before working on things.  Then walk away.  Do something else.

Example Three–The Knockout Punch

Your wife says all you care about is yourself.  You agree with her that sometimes you do get that way.  She says that she can’t keep living this way and wants a divorce because you are too terrible to change.  You say, “That’s a really important thing to talk about, but we both need to recover from our fight before we get into such things.  I’m going to go (for a walk, watch TV, get back to work, etc.).  If you get feeling better, you are welcome to join me (call me, text me, etc.).”  Then walk away without getting pulled into an argument.  If he/she is upset about your walking away, that’s probably a whole lot better than what would have happened in a continued fight.

Repeat this process as many times as it takes

Usually, it won’t take more than two times of listening and agreeing sincerely with a person before he or she wants to reconcile. If the time it takes to reconcile is becoming longer and longer despite your best efforts, you can learn to rebuild your marriage in coaching. The more damage that has been done, the more rebuilding is required. Marriage coaching is both fast and positive.

When NOT to try to calm down your spouse

Distance is required when someone has gone beyond the line where they have self control.

If your spouse needs time to do that, then you had better give it or it could create a potentially dangerous situation in one of three ways: 1) it can actually encourage your spouse to go out of control in the future; 2) you are more likely to be physically injured; and 3) more damage is likely to be done to the relationship. Once both of you have some measure of self control (upset doesn’t mean out of control), then you can use the following four steps.


If your spouse also admits to wrongdoing,

Listen quietly and respectfully.  Don’t interrupt and don’t provoke.  State your desire just to get back to a good relationship again.  If your spouse doesn’t admit to anything, that’s OK.  If your spouse admits to wrongdoing, but continues to have the same kind of behavior frequently, arguing now won’t stop it. Instead, you will need to get your spouse’s respect while continuing to be loving. The quickest and easiest way to do that is with marriage coaching.




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