When you’ve been together for a while, it becomes increasingly easy to tell when your spouse is in a bad mood. However, there are still times when a snapping remark or slamming door can take you by surprise. At these times, it’s easy to feel like your partner is lashing out at you. This can create tension in your marriage despite the fact that the issue at hand may have been completely unrelated to you or your marriage.
Nathan Feiles has a great post over at PsychCentral called “The Relationship Mood Alert.” In it, he suggests setting up ways to notify your mate that you’re in a bad mood without hurting their feelings.
Feiles says mood alerts can help prevent conflict and also let your partner know that you need him or her to either leave you alone or help you through your mood.
When there’s no warning, it’s easier for a partner to personalize a bad mood, or to feel attacked, or surprised by a sudden aggression or hostility,” says Feiles. “This is an emotionally confusing environment that sets the stage for defensiveness, reactions, and arguments.”
He goes on to explain that a mood alert can take on several forms.
1. An announcement.
Simple enough; just telling your spouse that you’re in a bad mood is one type of mood alert. This is one that’s best for those who are calm enough to explain this in a kind voice or to elaborate a bit on what’s going on.
2. Dry erase or message board.
Some people keep a dry erase board or a pad of paper handy. When experiencing a significant mood shift, this is noted on the board or paper (whether a good, bad, or neutral mood). It may take some practice, both to remember to write the mood, and to remember to check for updates.”
This is a good idea for those times when one of you is in no state to speak in a civil way or without crying.
3. Color magnets.
Usually done on the refrigerator, some couples will assign colors for moods. When moods shift, a magnet of the color representing their current mood is placed in a designated spot on the refrigerator.”
One idea we thought of is to put pictures of each of you up on the fridge, held up by the magnet that matches your mood. Unused magnets can be stuck elsewhere on the fridge until your mood changes. We also suggest trying red, yellow and green magnets to keep things simple.
4. Formal mood alert.
The formal alert involves writing the emotion associated with the mood (angry, frustrated, sad, annoyed, etc.), and then writing a paragraph about what the issue is. This both informs your partner of what’s going on, and also helps externalize the issue, rather than keeping it inside and ruminating on it.”
If your normal means of communicating a bad mood is to slam pots and pans or tell your partner to leave you alone, try using one or more of these mood alerts. The act itself may even help put you in a better mood!