What do we do when our partners feel blue? Try to cheer them up? Let them sit in it? Try to talk them out of it? Take it personally? 1. Listen closely. What's going on? What is your partner's perspective on things (it doesn't have to agree with yours!) Are there parts of this that could deepen your relationship, if only you understood them? 2. Is this an infrequent mood or a melancholic disposition? All people become blue now and then. Express concern and wait for it to pass. Some people have a life-long blue attitude.
You can't fight it, you can only learn to live with it, or encourage your partner to get into therapy. Research now indicates that we all have our "set points" for how happy we can be. We have a range of happiness we're probably not going to exceed except for brief periods. However, why not learn how to live at the top end of this range? Therapy can help the melancholic individual do this. 3.
Empathize. Empathy is a mild experience of what the other is feeling. We do not have to give up our own joy to have a mild experience of our partner's blue day. Imagine what it would be like to feel that way, to think that way, or to have a similar experience of loss, disappointment, or hurt. If your first reaction is to try to argue the other out of the feeling then Stop It! It just doesn't work. Your partner's unconscious knows whether you're really understanding and appreciating the dilemma.
Until you're "really there" with the other, your words won't really get through. 4. Take care of yourself. When our partners are moody they aren't going to be very available for our emotional needs (or perhaps for our other needs, as well.) This means you need to be able to self-soothe, to tolerate your aloneness, and to not take personally your partner's inner decision to not be available.
Fair? Of course, it doesn't seem fair! But life is what it is and we had best learn to live with it as best we can. Go for a walk. Call a friend. Meditate. Pray.
Ride a bike. Swing on the playground. Read a book.
Take a soothing bath. 5. Take stock and assess how your needs are being met. If your partner's moodiness is infrequent then hopefully your needs get met regularly. If the moods are common and your needs seem to be unmet most of the time then you'll need to confront the issue at some point.
Don't be too quick about it. Give yourself time to be sure. Give your partner time to get some therapy, and plan on going along yourself. But, if nothing changes, hard decisions do eventually show themselves.
I hope you never have to get to this point! 6. Celebrate the difficulty of your relationship! Anything worth doing is usually fairly difficult at first. By the time you have this thing working you're going to be a real relationship expert!.
Steve Roberts, "The Couples Guy," is an experienced Marriage and Family Therapist who shares tips and real life relationship secrets from over 20 years of practice. Get Insight and Wisdom at: http://www.whatworksforcouples.com/