If your wife is upset, while it may be an uncomfortable experience, it can also offer an opportunity to strengthen the marriage. A 2012 article published in the "Couple and Family Psychology" journal explains that a spouse's well-being is associated with the amount of emotional support provided by the other spouse. While it's hard to deny the importance of being a supportive spouse to your wife, you may be at a loss as to what would provide her with comfort.
Allow your wife to cry. While you may feel uncomfortable when your wife is upset to the point of crying, it's important for her to process her feelings. Perhaps the ideal reaction in this case is to simply embrace your wife and allow her to cry. Words don't necessarily need to be spoken, but in allowing your wife to cry, you are encouraging her to express how she is feeling. Additionally, having a conversation may be the last thing your wife wants to do when she's very upset.
Listen actively to what your wife says. Active listening isn't as easy as having a conversation; it means refraining from voicing opinion or judgment, not interrupting and focusing on the conversation and nothing else. This facilitates communication that allows your wife to express and process her thoughts without concern for what she is saying. Interrupting, interjecting opinions or engaging in other activities while listening may cause defensiveness and your wife may not be as comfortable being comforted by you.
Avoid trying to "fix" what is making your wife upset. At times, and especially when your wife is upset, there is a natural human inclination to want to make things better. Comfort however, doesn't always have to entail changing the situation or person who is the source of your wife's feelings. Being upset, in and of itself, is a way of processing strong emotions, so your wife isn't necessarily in need of an intervention. Allow your wife to lead the conversation, and avoid making suggestions as to what to do to provide comfort.
Comfort physically, rather than emotionally. Touching another person, via a hug or a gentle arm placed around your wife's shoulder, can cause biochemical changes in her body. These changes, explains the National Institutes of Health, facilitate the release of the hormone oxytocin which improves mood and decreases stress. So, although you might not feel like physical comfort is helpful, it's actually therapeutic and at times, easier than having an in-depth conversation.
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- University of Maryland: Effective Communication
- National Institutes of Health: The Power of Love Hugs and Cuddles Have Long-Term Effects
- Harvard Medical School: 11 Way To Comfot Someone Who is Grieving
- Couple and Family Psychology: Provision and Receipt of Emotional Spousal Support:The Impact of Visibility on Well-Being
- Murney Clinic: Why Does My Husband Get So Upset When I Cry?
Maura Banar has been a professional writer since 2001 and is a psychotherapist. Her work has appeared in "Imagination, Cognition and Personality" and "Dreaming: The Journal of the International Association for the Study of Dreams." Banar received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Buffalo State College and her Master of Arts in mental health counseling from Medaille College.