If you think your wife or girlfriend is acting crazy, the first thing you absolutely shouldn’t do under any circumstance is suggest that she calm down. No one in the history of the world has ever calmed down from being told to calm down. It’s not helpful, and it can actually come across as dismissive and invalidating — and far more likely to add pressure to an already tense and pressurized situation.
But what are you supposed to do under the circumstances?
How to Deal with Your Wife If She Acts Crazy
When your partner isn’t being rational and might even be flying off the handle, there are options for handling it that won’t make the situation worse. Let’s face it: If you’re unwilling to address it differently than you’ve done in the past but expect a different outcome, you’re the one who’s being crazy.
If you want the relationship to be healthier and for your wife to calm down, you may have to try something you’ve never tried before.
Exchange the Word “Crazy” for “Activated”
First of all, let’s retire the word “crazy” from your lexicon. That’s going to be the first step if you ever want things to change. Women are tired of being called crazy or hysterical for having feelings you may not understand. It’s disrespectful and invalidating. If you see her reactions as crazy, you’re probably not in a good mental space to address whatever conflict is causing her reaction.
Exchange “crazy” for “activated”. People who have experienced trauma will later experience heightened emotions when those memories are triggered. Her strong and disproportionate reaction to the situation might be a reflection of earlier trauma.
When you look at this reaction as “activated” rather than “crazy”, you shift into a place where you’re capable of viewing what’s happening with compassion.
While it may seem like she’s blowing something out of proportion, consider context. If you know she’s been cheating on, her response to you coming in late with a flimsy excuse could be an indication that she’s still healing from the last person who badly hurt her.
While you might understandably feel that this being taken out on you is unjustified, feelings aren’t always rational — particularly when trauma is involved.
The first thing you need to do when your wife is activated is to extend a little compassion and find perspective. Does her reaction make sense if you factor in her history? If it does, you might find it easier to handle her with kindness rather than adding fuel to the fire by getting activated yourself.
Validate Her Feelings
Even if you don’t understand your wife’s reactions, you can still validate her feelings. Don’t tell her that you think she’s overreacting. Reflect back to her that you can see that she’s angry or sad or disappointed. You might not understand how she’s feeling, but that doesn’t mean she’s wrong or crazy for feeling that way.
Validating her feelings is a way to show her that you are being respectful of her experience in the relationship. It’s a simple thing you can do to show you care. You don’t have to understand what she’s going through to understand that it must be difficult.
Keep Calm and Carry On … a Conversation
Even if her reaction doesn’t seem rational to you, stay calm. Ask if you can talk about what’s happening and why she feels so strongly about it. Let her know that you’ll willingly listen to what she has to say — but not if she’s yelling it at you.
This creates a boundary to the conversation. Boundaries are healthy, but you’ll want to be gentle when creating a brand-new boundary during a sensitive conversation.
Allow her time to say what she needs to say and listen to her. Don’t use that time planning your response. Actually listen to what’s upsetting her and why.
The key to de-escalation is to regulate your own emotions. You may feel triggered and defensive by her behavior, but you are still responsible for your response to it.
Your ability to stay calm and request a conversation could be the change needed to create open dialogue in the relationship. Keep in mind: you might not like what she has to say. She might have a good reason for being upset with you that could create personal discomfort as you listen. Listen anyway.
Once you’ve listened to what she has to say, are you willing to be truly accountable? If you’ve hurt her feelings, even unintentionally, are you able to apologize without making excuses or deflecting the blame?
Are you able to take responsibility yourself, or are you just looking for a scapegoat by calling her crazy so that you don’t have to work on yourself?
If you want your relationship to improve, it’s important that you develop the maturity to own up for your behavior. Maybe the way she’s feeling isn’t crazy at all. Maybe she has a good reason for her reaction — one you didn’t see before. If you’re in the wrong, apologize, mean it, and make amends.
Part of accountability is being responsible for the way you interact during a conflict. If you call her crazy, tell her to calm down, and dismiss her concerns, you’ve done a lot to make the situation worse. Can you be accountable for that?
Healthy relationships require uncomfortable conversations. You need to be able to have a conversation about how her reactions make you feel, but before you can address that, you need to resolve the current conflict. Center her feelings first, and when you’re both calmer, address better ways to address conflict going forward.
Identify Triggers in the Relationship
In most marriages, certain arguments have recurring themes. If she’s often angry because your clothes are often lying beside the laundry basket rather than in it, you’ve identified a potential trigger to conflict. Instead of throwing your clothes on the floor, you can easily avoid an argument by putting them where they go.
This is a simple example, but if you’re paying attention, you can identify the triggers to many conflicts. Avoiding these triggers is a way of showing respect for your partner’s sensitivities. Making small changes could create a big difference in your relationship. It could reduce petty arguments, and it could also show your wife how much you care when you do your best to avoid triggering past pain with careless behavior.
Consider Other Factors
Sadly, many physical and mental health concerns remain undiagnosed for many women. Despite a wealth of medical advances, help for women still lags behind — particularly when it comes to diagnoses that impact the hormones.
There are physical and mental health conditions that could contribute to what you see as “crazy” behavior. I know because I have one.
My experience with Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD)
When I first became symptomatic for Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD), I didn’t know what was happening to me.
Every single month, I would experience mood swings, heightened sensitivity to all emotions but particularly to feelings related to perceived rejection, lack of impulse control, anger and irritability, and even suicide ideation. I went from being a happy person with a good life to someone who felt out of control. I didn’t feel like myself, and I didn’t know what to do.
Unfortunately, my partner didn’t know what to do to support me and was, in fact, dealing with his own issues. I felt alone as I struggled with the recurring waves of emotions. I didn’t feel supported or understood, and I certainly didn’t have a diagnosis — yet — that made it all make sense.
When I was diagnosed, I was able to get medication to treat many of the symptoms. I still experience some emotional dysregulation, fatigue, headaches, and pain, but my depression, rejection sensitivity, impulse control, anger issues, and mood swings in general are managed.
I don’t have a hormone disorder. I have a neurological issue that impacts my endocrine system, which regulates my hormones. I’m sure I came across as crazy at times, but I had a genuinely debilitating disorder that needed support, understanding, and medical assistance — not judgment, invalidation, and name-calling.
Your “crazy” wife might actually have an undiagnosed physical or mental health issue. Encouraging her to seek professional support doesn’t sound like “you need therapy”.
It sounds like expressing concern that something else might be going on because you’ve noticed this is happening more regularly. Can you bring the support without the judgment?
You can make changes that impact how your partner responds to you, but at the end of the day, the only person you can actually change is yourself.
If you think your wife is acting crazy, practicing regular self-care can help you manage stress. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated. Eat well, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and do some things that make you feel good.
Healthy choices can help you feel more balanced in your relationship, too. You’ll be less reactive when you take better care of yourself.
Self-care can also extend to going to see a therapist to talk through what’s happening in your relationship and how it makes you feel. You need to be able to express yourself safely, which you may or may not be able to do in your relationship.
Carry Your Weight
Keep in mind that household labor isn’t equitable in most relationships. You might not realize the strain this creates on your wife, which could lead to emotional outbursts. Not only do women bear most of the burden of childcare and housework but many also work outside the home.
Even stay-at-home mothers carry more of the mental load — required to cook, clean, care for children, make all the appointments, pay the bills, and manage everyone’s schedule.
If your wife is acting “crazy”, consider if you’re carrying your weight around the home. Housework comes to mind, but it doesn’t stop there. Do you make your doctor’s appointments? Do you do your fair share of shopping and purchasing gifts for birthdays and holidays? There are so many aspects of daily life that women are handling alone.
If you feel like she’s acting irrationally, consider if she’s bearing more of the burden in the home. Taking some of this weight off her could relieve her stress and help avoid arguments. It could make your relationship more equitable and help alleviate some of the tension you may be experiencing.
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
If this behavior is a consistent pattern in your relationship, you may need to do some soul searching. Is this a healthy relationship that you want to work out? Are the issues ones you can resolve, or are you just incompatible?
If you want your relationship to work, it might be time to sit down and address the elephant in the room. There are major problems in the relationship. What will you (both) do about them? Are you both willing to go to therapy — both individual and couples counseling — to address what’s happening in the relationship? Are you both willing to make some uncomfortable changes for the good of the relationship?
If one or both of you aren’t willing to change, nothing is going to get better, and you might as well resign yourself to the pattern or end the relationship. You may even need to ask yourself the hardest question of all: what are you getting out of this toxic relationship dynamic that you refuse to stop the cycle?
In Conclusion: Your Wife Is Not Crazy; She’s Human
Your wife probably isn’t crazy. She’s just a flawed human who has learned maladaptive coping skills to survive. Her reactions probably made sense at one point in time, even if they don’t seem to now. It’s also possible that what you see as “crazy” behavior is just emotions you aren’t comfortable witnessing or addressing.
That’s more about you than your wife, and you may even need to address your own avoidance and fears of intimacy.
If you want your relationship to get better, you’ve got to stop thinking of your wife as crazy. Instead, see heightened emotions as evidence that the woman you love is struggling with something that could feel overwhelming. Don’t come at her with accusations or anger. Instead, work some compassion into your response. It just might make all the difference.
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