A few days ago Sarah came into the kitchen where her husband John was standing and it didn’t take long for her to figure out that he was in a foul mood.
It was downright ugly in fact.
He was slamming drawers, cursing under his breath, huffing and puffing and not being very nice to her and their daughters.
So, Sarah did what Sarah always does in situations like these…
She started to “fix him” by offering suggestions about what he could do to get in a better mood.
You see, Sarah is a fixer and she learned very early in life that if things aren’t going your way (especially with the people you care about), you “Fix them.”
Another couple’s “bad mood” experience is different but somehow similar…
Spencer has a totally different strategy to try to make things go more smoothly with Kacee when she gets upset, angry or in a bad mood.
He wants to use whatever strategy he can to get her to “talk about it” because he thinks that if you talk about it, things will always get better.
Like Sarah and Spencer, every one of us has a go-to strategy that we use by default to try to make things go better when our spouse, partner or someone close to us is in a bad mood or is having a “meltdown.”
This can be offering “helpful” suggestions, getting the other person to “talk about it,” getting angry or even withdrawing.
But what if there was a MUCH better way to deal with people and situations when someone is in a bad mood?
What if the best strategy isn’t to DO something (like fix them or get them talking) but it is something entirely different?
The thing about a bad mood is that it can come upon us like a huge wall or black cloud and can happen over anything.
And it can leave as quickly as it came.
The truth is that you can have different reactions at different times to the same situation.
One time you might fall into a bad mood and another time you don’t.
Something might happen (like having to stay late at work) that throws you into feeling terrible and that same thing might happen another time and it doesn’t bother you as much.
You might even feel okay about it.
It’s your thinking that’s different in both situations.
And the truth is that your partner is doing the same thing as well.
When you don’t recognize that thinking is behind your bad mood or that of your partner’s…
You can make up all kinds of untrue stories and it can play havoc in your life and in your relationship.
So how do you keep your connection and your spark for each other alive if this is going on all the time?
What you DON’T do is try to fix your own bad mood or your partner’s.
Sounds like you should do just the opposite but here’s why you shouldn’t…
When you try to “fix” your bad mood or your partner’s, it usually creates more distance and tension.
When Susie tries to get Otto to see the “bright” side of the situation that she thinks is causing his bad mood, he’s usually not open to it and often blames himself for not “getting over it” faster.
When Otto tries to get Susie to talk about “it” when something’s bothering her, she usually doesn’t want to in that moment and pulls away because she feels pressured.
We’ve found that pushing through a bad mood like we’ve described doesn’t bring us closer together or lift the mood.
It pushes us apart.
We’ve realized that our “bad” moods are created by our thinking and when our thinking calms down about the situation, we can see something different.
We don’t have to fix the bad mood because we’ve seen a possibility of something else.
Now we realize that if you or your partner hold onto a bad mood over time, it can turn into depression which can certainly become a wedge in a relationship.
Even then, when your thinking calms down, your spirits can lift and your life and your relationships can get better.
In saying all of this, we are not saying to put up with abuse from someone who’s in a low mood. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself.
But here’s what we know…
- Knowing that our true state of being is love somehow helps when our low moods or those of our partner get us down.
- Knowing that we or our partner can always have some different thinking about a situation helps.
- Knowing that our partner has wisdom inside and we don’t need to “fix” anything takes a load off our shoulders.
- Knowing that a loving invitation and then respecting if the person isn’t ready to talk about it is the most supportive thing you can do.
- Knowing that sometimes just a kind, listening ear is what’s needed or honoring the space for the other person to find some quiet inside is what’s called for.
- Knowing that acknowledging and expressing how you feel can be healthy.
- Knowing that love is all there is and ever will be helps as well.