Yelling in a Relationship Part 1: What to Do if You Yell at Your Partner
Katy Kandaris-Weiner, LPC
Everyone experiences anger, and we are predisposed to show it in certain ways. Yelling is one of those ways.
Yelling in and of itself is not necessarily an unhealthy action. It is the context of when, where, and who you shout at that makes all the difference as to whether raising your voice has the potential to cause trauma.
During a World Cup soccer match, for example, is a context where yelling may be entirely appropriate—even encouraged (depending on what words you’re using and toward whom). Yelling in a relationship, however, is perhaps the most delicate context, since there is an extreme likelihood it will lead to broken trust at best, or even cause damage beyond repair.
It probably feels natural to raise your voice at your partner or spouse in frustrating situations. But the truth is, yelling at them can have severe consequences on both their mental health and yours.
Why You Yell
Yelling is a reaction. It’s an outburst of extreme emotions. If your partner is yelling at you or you are yelling at them, there are probably feelings of anger and irritation present between you.
However, people yell at their partners for reasons beyond just these negative emotions.
Consciously or subconsciously, yelling asserts dominance. It is a method to make the other party feel smaller and unimportant or unintelligent. When you yell at another person, you are trying to make them submissive to your feelings.
No two people exist that are totally the same. Thus, even if you have a partner or spouse that you get along with famously, it is highly likely that they are going to do something that you find irksome, aggravating, or even enraging.
What Yelling Does to Your Partner
This might all seem extreme, but it is true on multiple levels. Shouting induces fear, regardless of whether or not that is the intention.
Unfortunately, yelling does more than make someone afraid of you. It can genuinely set off a fear response like fight, flight, or freeze. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illnesses, being yelled at frequently will cause the release of stress hormones, causing tension and high blood pressure. NAMI also states that being yelled at can permanently change your perception of yourself and your thought processes.
The most significant damage from yelling and shouting happens to kids when their parents raise their voices at them. However, adults can also suffer long-lasting psychological damage.
How to Stop Yelling In a Relationship
It’s ok to acknowledge mistakes and change your ways. If you recognize that you have been yelling at your partner, you can take steps to break that habit.
Decide That It’s Time to Change
You acknowledged that you yell, and that it’s a problem in your relationship. Now it’s time to choose to change. You can say it out loud to yourself and your partner that you are actively working on changing your behavior.
Remember to give yourself grace if you find yourself raising your voice occasionally after a commitment to change. It’s an ingrained behavior, and most people can’t fix it overnight. As long as you take a moment to acknowledge that you’re shouting, then put an end to it, you’re making progress.
Take a Moment
Breathe. Be mindful of the situation. Before you yell at your partner, take a second to think about why you’re tempted to. Is it really them that you’re angry at? Does the situation at hand warrant such an extreme reaction? Are there other ways that you can get your point across?
Not only does assessing the situation and your frustration make a difference, but simply taking a few deep breaths can help regulate emotions.
Lower Your Stress Levels
It is common for people to direct frustration toward people and situations that did not actually cause those feelings. Stressors can add up, and one small irritation can be the final “straw that breaks the camel’s back”, triggering an exaggerated response.
Learning how to manage stress can go a long way in directing and detecting emotions. Meditation, exercise, and bubble baths are just a few examples of ways to let go of stress. Find out what works well for you and use it.
Learn How to Argue
Disagreements happen. That’s ok and can even be healthy. Both people in a relationship are allowed to feel strongly about different perspectives. However, the issues begin when disagreements are not sorted out in a healthy way. In order for arguments to be most effective, everyone involved needs to be on the same page in regard to the ‘rules’ and end goals.
We know we yell because we need to feel some sort of control, even if that just means feeling heard. There are ways to get your point across without resorting to shouting at your spouse or partner, however. Yes, there are even correct ways to argue.
If you need to wait until either persons’ volatile emotions have passed, that’s ok. Circle back to the problem when you are calm.
Use “I” statements instead of being accusatory. Think of phrases like “This makes me feel…” or “This is difficult for me because…”. These kinds of phrases are powerful techniques that allow for the issue to be addressed without diminishing anyone’s feelings.
Don’t interrupt or slide back into yelling. Both partners need to take turns to speak.
See a Counselor About Anger Management
If none of these techniques seem to stick, it is time to talk to a professional about dealing with anger. They might have additional methods to help, and they can also recognize any underlying causes for these outbursts. Since you already made the decision to change, seeking the guidance of mental health professionals is just one additional, impactful step you can take to increase your chances of successful, lasting change.
We’ll Help You and Your Relationship
Don’t be the reason your partner searches “my wife yells at me” on Google. If you find yourself unable to manage your reactions, call us at Inner Balance Counseling. Sometimes, a little outside help can go a long way in sorting things out between you and your partner. Our licensed counselors will help you get to the bottom of the how’s and why’s of yelling in a relationship. We’ll get better together.