3 Actions to Encourage Healthier Conflict if Your Husband Yells at You
Arguments are almost guaranteed in relationships, but consistent yelling is a cause for concern.
Arguments come with the territory of intimate relationships, and they can’t always be avoided. When two people have conflicting needs, desires, beliefs, worldviews, and ways of communicating, arguments can happen. However, that doesn’t mean arguments are healthy, or something to be blindly accepted. The nature of arguments reveals a lot about the dynamic in the relationship.
Having anyone yell at you is unpleasant. A significant other yelling at you consistently can lead to you feeling unsafe or threatened. There’s a difference between healthy conflict and aggressive behavior, too. If you feel that your arguments are imbalanced and, making the assumption that you’re reading this article because your husband is yelling at you, want to find healthier ways to relate, you’re in the right place.
Reasons Why Your Husband Yells At You
If someone is highly irritable and loses their temper regularly, there could be a number of contributing factors. Most likely there is an emotional cause, originating from a sense of desperation or frustration. Assuming the relationship is otherwise healthy, and not abusive, someone yelling may indicate they lack emotional regulation and the ability to communicate through difficult topics.
If yelling occurs mostly during arguments or disagreements, that’s likely the cause. But if your husband yells at you unexpectedly or spontaneously, away from disagreements or conflict, that could indicate possessiveness, controlling tendencies, codependency, or unacknowledged resentment.
There’s no excuse for yelling. If it happens in the middle of conflict, there is cause for compassion — sometimes people struggle with difficult situations and lose control. But if this is frequent and unprovoked, then the issue needs to be looked at more closely.
Is It Abuse If My Husband Yells At Me?
There are ways that you can discern whether yelling is unhealthy, or entering the territory of abuse. It takes self-honesty to explore the times your husband yells at you, and to consider your role. Were you also raising your voice or yelling? Were you being passive-aggressive? Ask these questions as a form of inquiry, not a way to attempt to shift blame or attempt to justify violent behavior. Make no mistake, yelling is a form of violence.
Someone raising their voice is a sign of dominance and aggression. Depending on what is said, this can also be a form of verbal abuse, which is also linked to emotional abuse. Yelling can’t be minimized; although it might not have the same external impact as physical violence, it can still be a form of abuse and is just as valid.
Abusive tendencies don’t tend only exist in the middle of conflict. Other ways to tell the difference between someone losing their cool and abuse include:
- Responsibility: people who lose their cool in the middle of an argument will be more likely to apologize and take responsibility. Once they have gone through a cooling-off period, they’ll likely realize their yelling wasn’t okay, and want to make up for that. If someone refuses to apologize or take responsibility for yelling, it could enter abusive territory.
- Blame: the chances of abuse are even higher if the person yelling blames you for their behavior. Rather than acknowledge their own inability to emotionally regulate, they may tell you that they’re only yelling because you made them — a significant red flag.
- A lack of desire to change: yelling is permissible if the intention is there to make change. If the yelling is frequent, and the person makes no attempt to understand the root cause, it could be a sign of an abusive dynamic.
Can Yelling Be Part of Healthy Conflict?
If the above examples are common in your relationship, it’s a big red flag. But yelling isn’t always a sign to end a relationship. Amanda Ripley, author of High Conflict: Why We Get Trapped—and How We Get Out, identifies two types of conflict: high conflict and good conflict. The former is full of unaddressed grievance, polarized thinking, superiority, judgment, and reactivity. Good conflict, however, “can be stressful and heated, but it doesn’t collapse into caricature.” It’s catalytic and supports a deeper understanding between both sides.
3 Steps To Stop Your Husband Yelling At You
With everything considered, it’s clear that consistent yelling isn’t ideal, whether the relationship itself is unhealthy or not. If you can see room for improvement, and believe that the issue can be worked on, that’s already a positive sign. The willingness to communicate to grow together is the hallmark of successful long-term relationships. It does, of course, take two to tango, and will require both of you to be on the same page when it comes to avoiding this damaging type of conflict.
For the best results, it pays to make sure you are regulating emotionally and practicing your communication skills, when you open up the conversation. If you blame or accuse your husband, without prior warning, then it could have the opposite effect, and lead to more defensiveness or justification. Try to find an appropriate time to talk, and express your needs clearly. Then follow these additional steps.
1. Communicate The Issue
Once you’ve found an appropriate time, carefully consider how you’d like to express your concern. You could open the dialogue by saying something like: “you’ve been yelling a lot at me lately. When you do, I feel scared and unsafe. It never leads to greater resolution, and I’d like us to find a way to work on this.” By using “we” statements, you’re offering a sense of togetherness, that it’s an issue for the both of you, even if that might be giving your husband the benefit of the doubt.
2. Set Clear Boundaries
Once you’ve expressed the issue, and why, the next step is to express your boundaries. These can be flexible, or not. For example, you might set a hard boundary that if your husband yells or enters verbal abuse, you will walk away from the conflict. The next time you’re in that situation, you’ve set the expectation, and avoid enabling the unhealthy behavior.
3. Work Together On Conflict Resolution Practices
Having open conversations in the cold light of day is one thing, but remembering to act in a certain way in the heat of the moment is another. That’s why having a set of practices to rely on is key to overcoming unhealthy forms of conflict. By far, one of the best techniques you can use is to agree on a cooling-off period when things get too intense — for both of you. It allows for space to calm down, and avoid doing or saying things you’ll later regret. According to conflict resolution expert Heidi Burgess:
“Cooling-off periods are used in highly emotional confrontations in which one or more of the parties has become intensely angry as the result of some real or imagined provocation or threat. Decisions made under these circumstances are likely to make the situation worse, rather than better. Bill Ury refers to cooling-off periods as, ‘going to the balcony.’ Parties can ‘go to the balcony’ to create enough time and space to distance themselves from their knee-jerk impulses. It gives them the chance to regain control over their emotions.”
The Next Steps…
All that is in your control is the ability to express boundaries and ask for behavior to change, as well as living by those standards yourself. However, if your husband or partner ignores those requests, disrespects boundaries, and has no intention to work on their emotional regulation, you’re then faced with a bigger question of whether or not to stay in the relationship.
The way someone responds to having unhelpful behaviors challenged says a lot about the person. If your husband is apologetic and responsive, there’s every chance your relationship will become even stronger once you’ve worked on your communication styles and conflict resolution. You may yell from time to time, and that’s normal, but it’ll become less frequent, and won’t escalate, creating a safer environment for both of you.