How to Deal With a Difficult
Relationships are works-in-progress and
require a few course-corrections to reach
their full potential. If you and your spouse
are feeling the impact of anger issues, poor
communication or an inability to
compromise, you can improve your
situation. Developing the tools of open and
honest communication, learning to
negotiate a compromise, and committing
to change will get you back on the road to
Method One of Four:
Prepare what you want to say.
Write down your concerns so you can
communicate them to your spouse. This
will help identify specific behaviors,
feelings and solutions. If you believe
there is a problem, include a possible
Write down your thoughts. It will be
helpful to get it all out on paper.
Writing down your thoughts is
therapeutic and will help organize
your emotions in a way that promotes
Practice saying your concerns out
loud. Don’t worry about being perfect.
If it is from your heart, that is what
When you talk to someone who may
overpower you with their negativity,
being prepared is a good way to
combat the urge to be negative as
Pick a good time to talk. Avoid early
morning conversations when you or
your spouse might be grumpy; and try
not to talk immediately when you get
home from work. Relax and settle down
before you approach. If you’ve been
feeling the brunt of his negativity, you
probably know what time will hold the
most promise for a positive outcome.
Talking in public places might be
beneficial. The person is less likely to
get upset for fear of being
Align as many positive things as you
can to set the stage for positive
communication. Perhaps you could go
somewhere that you both enjoy, or
you could stay at home and have a
Maintain a positive attitude while
talking. Express your optimism about
working together to find a solution. This
is your chance to make a difference in
your relationship. It is your time to speak
and be heard. Don’t let your spouse deter
you from your goal of having a good,
problem-solving conversation. You’re on
a mission to be heard so focus on what’s
important: creating a change for the
Approach the subject positively by
saying something like, “I really
appreciate the things you do for me
and I really want you to be happy. I
get the feeling you’re not happy with
me based on some of the things you
say.” This will start things off.
If his first response is negative, try to
stop him by saying, “I want to talk
about this peacefully because I’m
concerned about it; and if we need to
change something, then we need to
listen to each other.” Diffuse his
response with calm, focused
If he can’t respond without getting
aggressive or agitated, then simply
say, “Maybe we can talk about this
later.” If he is absolute in his
demeanor then you have got a more
serious problem on your hands. Don’t
put yourself in harm’s way. Do what
you can to get to a safe place.
He may respond with an open ear and
show you his genuine concern. This is
your opportunity to let him know how
you feel about being criticized. Don’t
be afraid to tell him that it hurts your
feelings and makes you concerned
about your relationship and its future.
Keep telling him that you love him
and show your support for what he
has to say.
Figure out what is really going on.
If you know that you haven’t been
doing anything that would constitute
your spouse’s negative responses, then
it’s time to roll up your sleeves and get to
work. This is the perfect opportunity to
practice your problem solving skills.
If a person is always complaining or
being critical about most things in life
it may be due to something that
happened to him earlier in life. There
could be an event or a tragedy in a
person’s life that makes him behave
You may find out that he is very
unhappy with his job or with an
unrelated issue that has nothing to do
with you. If he thinks his life is bad
because of these things, he might be
taking it out on you.
He may be resenting you for not being
perfect. You need to remind him that
you aren’t perfect, you weren’t when
you met, probably never will be, and
neither is he.
Insecurities about job performance,
financial independence, and physical
performance can all contribute to a
person’s constant complaining and
negativity. Depression may be at
the root of the problem and needs to
be dealt with accordingly.
He might feel the world is against him
and you are part of it. You need to
separate yourself from that
association and reassure him that you
are on his side.
Be honest. Lead by example by
speaking your truth. This does not
mean you have to be brutally honest and
hurt the person’s feelings. Use your
words carefully and keep in mind that
you are trying to solve problem that will
improve your communication.
Be respectful and ask for it in
return. Respect is earned. If you act
in a respectful manner it will set the
stage for being respected in return. If
you feel you are not being respected, tell
the person, “I want us to be respectful to
each other. I’m willing to do that, are
Be open. It takes courage to be
vulnerable. Opening your heart to the
possibility of improvement is essential.
You may have a fear of getting hurt, but
that is a risk worth taking. Once you
experience the reward of being open, it
will become easier.
Method Two of Four:
Dealing with an Inability to
Set the stage for a resolution. Lead
by example and serve as your own
mediator. You want to appear
optimistic about the situation. Be
attentive and focused so she knows that
you are serious and believe that you can
solve the problem at hand.
Be diplomatic. Having a keen sense of
fairness will help get your work done.
Listen and be heard. It is common
knowledge that you cannot listen and
talk at the same time. You need to be
able to listen to what she has to say;
and you need to feel that you are
being heard. If you don’t feel you are
being heard, then tell her.
Don’t interrupt. Show your respect for
the process by not interrupting. If she
interrupts you tell her something like,
“I’m not going to interrupt you when
you’re talking because I want to hear
what you have to say. Please let me
talk without being interrupted so
you’ll know exactly what I’m trying to
Ask for what you want. Know what
you want and be able to communicate
it. She needs to know how you feel when
she criticizes the things you do. Think
about these things ahead of time so you
can clearly communicate your needs and
wants. Preparation will help you stay on
task should she decide to add her
Do not compromise your values. Be
clear that you are not willing to go
against your values. Be specific about
what you consider deal breakers. If
she constantly berates your
grandmother behind her back, which
erodes the value you place on your
family, tell her.
Always tie your needs and wants back
to helping the relationship. Confirm
that all you want is to be happy and
for her to be happy.
Ask her what she wants. This will
allow her the opportunity to clarify
her requests, expectations and desires.
It’s important to hear what she has to
say, which will help her feel understood.
Take notes and if she asks you why
you’re doing that, tell her you want to
make sure you don’t miss anything
Read back your notes to her and ask if
you got everything correct. Add
anything you missed or anything she
would like to add.
If she indicates something she wants
and you know you cannot agree to it
simply say, “I can’t agree to that. It’s
not reasonable to me. Perhaps we can
take some time to think about other
options and find a compromise.”
Deflect negativity. People who have
a problem with chronic negativity add
a negative twist to every situation. Do not
allow yourself to be influenced by your
partner’s negative and critical thinking.
If she continues to be negative tell
her, “I’m trying to focus on the
positive so we can solve this problem.
It’s easy to be negative. Being positive
is hard, but that’s what I’m going to
Solicit a commitment for change.
You both need to fully embrace the
idea of reconciliation. It is crucial that at
minimum you agree to try to make a
change. That may be your starting point,
and then you can build from there. The
goal is to commit to the process fully, but
you may need to start with small steps.
Review the items on both your lists.
Let her know that you agree to make
the changes, if she agrees to make the
It is acceptable to say things like, “I’m
willing to commit to you and this
agreement. Tell me how comfortable
and willing you are to commit to
making things better for us.”
Reassure her that you are doing this
to make things better for both of you
and your future together.
Method Three of Four:
Adjusting for Imperfections
Be patient. Change does not come
easy for some people. Your spouse
has a difficult challenge ahead, especially
if he hasn’t been aware of his behaviors
or what triggers them. Patience is the key
to a successful relationship. Convince
yourself that although this is an
extremely challenging time, it is
Things will improve if you remain
focused on your goals.
If things aren’t going well, don’t give
up. Discuss the matter and agree to
move forward making adjustments if
Compliment each other. When you
are pleased with how things are going,
tell your spouse. If you see him catch
himself being negative and then he
corrects himself, acknowledge this as an
accomplishment. Everyone needs to
know they are doing a good job. It will
help both of you stay motivated.
Laugh. If you can both find some way
to laugh about the situation, it can be
healing for both of you. A laugh is
the shortest distance between two
people. It is almost impossible to stay
upset when you are laughing. Try it.
Be coachable. Everyone needs a little
coaching. Don’t criticize your spouse
or yourself for making mistakes. Instead,
focus on the efforts you both are making
to be better people. A tiny step is still a
step in the right direction.
Let it go. Whether your situation is
more serious or you are dealing with a
spouse who ignores your requests to take
out the trash, it’s important to keep
things in perspective. No one likes to feel
small or diminished or ignored by a
spouse or by anyone for that matter. You
will find that once you feel heard and
respected you will be able to release your
feelings of upset and shepherd in
feelings of relief. You can let it go.
If you try to let something go and it
continues to eat at you, then you
likely need to process more feelings
about the situation. This may include
additional chats with your spouse, or
going for a hike to physically work out
It can be upsetting if someone tells
you to “just let it go” if you haven’t
reached a level of resolve about the
matter. Take a deep breath and say,
“I’m working on letting it go, but I’m
not there yet.”
Once you settle into a feeling of
balanced perspective, you will see that
some things are worth getting upset
about, and some are not.
Renew your commitment to the
relationship. Plenty of people decide
to renew their wedding or commitment
vows for various reasons. This may be a
wonderful opportunity to ceremonially
show each other that you have not lost
interest in your relationship and you are
still in love.
Making it through tough times
together can result in a deeper desire
Your spouse may realize the pain he
has been causing and might feel
guilty. He may want to show you that
he is sorry for what he has put you
through. Let him.
Method Four of Four:
Be self-reliant. Happiness is an inside
job and you are responsible to create
it. You know what makes you happy, so
participate in activities outside your
relationship that will build a reservoir of
positive feelings. It is easier to face
negative and difficult people if you are
filled with good vibes. A happier you will
always make any relationship better.
Find a positive source of energy.
Dealing with people who are always
negative can be very tiring and stressful.
Making a change takes time so you will
need support and encouragement to face
the struggles. Find a friend or person you
trust and who can be a source of
Remember, negative people drain us
of our energy so it needs to be
replenished. Activities such as
exercise, dancing, yoga and golf are
only a few ways to recharge your
Avoid people with negative
qualities. Stay away from friends and
other family members who are negative
and non-supportive. These people are
best left to themselves. Do not allow
them to influence your relationship with
If being positive was easy, everyone
would be doing it. There is a lot of
dissatisfaction in the world and many
people like to express it without
permission. You don’t have to listen to
Work with a professional. If you feel
you cannot manage the situation,
there are professional counselors,
therapists, and mediators who can help.
You are human and there are times
when you reach the end of your rope and
need help. Although it will be difficult, a
separation or divorce may be the only
answer to your problem.
A temporary separation might actually
save your relationship. This might
provide the right amount of distance
that allows you both time to
determine the relationship is worth
Psychologists and psychiatrists are
available in your local area and can be
located through the American
Psychological Association  and the
American Psychiatric Association..
A mediator will serve as a neutral
party and attempt to facilitate a
resolution for both of you