Ways to help an over-emotional woman without fleeing to the pub
EMOTIONAL literacy (EQ) starts with naming the feeling. Relationships give us so many opportunities to grow as this week’s question reveals.
Sam from Hillcrest, near Durban, asks: “My wife is impossible to deal with at the moment. A new cleaner started at home. I don’t know how to help her. I don’t know if it is the full moon, or, if it is her monthly cycle that makes her over-emotional. I made a deal with her that I won’t go to the local pub to avoid her. I don’t understand what she needs, can you explain it to me?”
It is clear that you are in a situation with limited options. In every situation there are three ways to respond:
1. We can avoid the situation and pretend it does not exist and carry on.
2. We can “dance” with it and establish where the boundaries are.
3. We can face it directly. I understand you’ve already eliminated option one by not going to the pub.
This means you either have to test the boundaries, which might create more emotions for her, or find a way to deal with it. Since I can’t make that decision for you, I will attempt to explain what she needs.
The most important thing a woman needs in a situation like this is to be heard and validated until she can come up with her own solution. When we can do something or a situation feels more in control, this empowers us. The idea is to deal with the situation without pushing her boundaries and creating more stress. When it becomes easier for her, it will be easier for you too.
A woman who is outwardly emotional is not able to contain her feelings and deals with them by herself. What she needs is a person to facilitate the sharing of emotions.
She needs a “safe” time and place for a verbal exchange.
With her feelings out of the way, she can actually deal with the task at hand, which in this case might be the new cleaner you mentioned. Most people with built-up emotions are unable to deal with situations practically.
Give her an opportunity to speak to you without having to respond to anything that she says. All you need to do is to give it your full attention, and I mean your full attention.
Perhaps you should ask her: “Can we speak about this for 15 minutes?” Give her 15 minutes and if she is not finished, say to her that if she wants to talk some more you can find another time to listen to her, without offering advice. The idea is not to resolve the situation, but rather to help her blow off some steam.
If the situation is such that she still cannot resolve this within herself, it will help her to start naming what she feels. The idea is not to be her therapist or to create an emotional dependency, but rather to create little chunks of time for her to help her deal with her emotions the moment they arise.
If you are able to refrain from giving advice and repeat her words back to her, for her to hear herself, she will grow on an emotional level. You could start a sentence with: “I heard you say you feel…” Little by little it will feed back to her where she is.
You are not a therapist or a coach and I am not suggesting that you do anything else but be the witness for her emotions and thus validating them. From here you can and will discover what she needs.
I also suggest reading Can You See Me Naked: Grow in a Conscious Relationship which is available on request from any leading bookstore or my website.
Adelé Green provides answers here when posted on www.adele-green.com/ askadele/ or confidential, fee- for-service, individual coaching via Skype to men and women. She is a transformation specialist coach and author of Can You See Me Naked. Also listen to #360Brunch on mix93.fm on Sundays.