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How to Communicate When a Spouse Talks or Yells Over You

by Kay Ireland

Humans can be competitive creatures, but when competition starts to permeate a marriage, normal discussions can become all-out yelling matches. If you're constantly trying to talk to a spouse who interrupts and yells, it can feel like you're in a boxing ring and waiting for the right time to land a verbal jab. Stop the attitude of "winner takes all" in your marriage by recalibrating your strategy before starting another round.

Stop the conversation immediately and set a precedent: you don't talk with someone who yells at you. If you continue to try and get through to your angry spouse, you'll probably find yourself on the losing end of a yelling match. Tell your spouse that you want to talk, but only once he's calmed down and wants to speak civilly. Then, walk away.

Keep your own voice down. It's tempting to think two can play that game and join the foray by raising your voice, but that only creates an endless and winner-less yelling match. Remember that once you lose control of your emotions, you also lose control of the conversation and automatically discount your own words. Keep your anger in check and ensure you don't end up angry, too.

Ask for empathy from your partner. People become angry when they feel scared, hurt or frustrated, so your spouse is probably venting another emotion to you. By calming yourself and saying something along the lines of "I really want to talk to you about this, but when you yell and interrupt, it feels like you don't value my opinion." This helps your spouse to see how her yelling affects you.

Change your tactics. For instance, are you pouncing on your spouse to talk or nag him right when she gets home from work? She's probably tired and stressed. However, if you wait until you're both relaxed or enjoying a good experience together, she'll be more apt to listen. Check your surroundings, timing and approach to see how you could be contributing to the emotional eruption.

Reward your spouse for good behavior by praising him when it comes to having civil conversation without the yelling. Tell him, "Hey, thanks for talking about that with me. I feel way better." That way, he understands the positive effects of keeping his cool when you talk.

About the Author

Kay Ireland specializes in health, fitness and lifestyle topics. She is a support worker in the neonatal intensive care and antepartum units of her local hospital and recently became a certified group fitness instructor.

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