Do you have a spouse or a partner who is extremely negative, argumentative, or verbally abusive? You want desperately to change their personality, because their negativity is taking a toll on you. If your spouse fits any of these categories, you likely need tips on how to handle them. Each type of personality requires a different approach.
• The Rage-a-Holic: By far, this is the most difficult personality type. A rage-a-holic is a person who gets angry quickly and typically wants to control situations. Their rage is the result of their feeling a lack of control. Rage-a-holics know that they are intimidating and use this to increase their sense of control. They typically don’t see themselves as verbally abusive, but their actions place them in this category.
How you handle a spouse who is a rage-a-holic is up to you, but it’s important to detach from your partner’s behavior—whether that results in you leaving the room, the house, or the relationship. Rage-a-holics won’t change until they are miserable. Although anger management techniques can be very successful for them, the rage-a-holic has to want to change this behavior, and since you can’t change them, you must create your own limits and boundaries.
It’s important to tell the person when they are not angry that you will no longer stay in the same room with them when once their voice becomes loud. This will require courage. Most people fear rage and volume. It will be important for you to do this every time the person gets loud.
• The Argumentative Partner: If your spouse constantly argues with you, no amount of reasoning with them will decrease their behaviors. Your only option is to withdraw from arguing, discussing or reasoning. Research has shown that if you respond, whether rationally or in an argumentative manner, it increases the argument. The best way to de-escalate the argument is to withdraw from the conflict and validate that you understand your partner’s feelings. It takes a mature person to make statements like, “Well, no wonder that you’re frustrated.” or “I bet that would make you mad.” The key is not responding or defending your position after you validate your partner. When you reflect back feelings, your partner will no longer need to vehemently make his or her point.
• The Negative Partner: A person who is negative typically knows they have this tendency, but they choose this as a defense to avoid being hurt. A fun technique to redirect the negative behavior is called the Kiss-Kiss method. It has a secondary gain of bringing you closer to your partner.
This exercise is done as follows: You tell the spouse that every time they are negative you will whisper the words, “Kiss Kiss” and they must kiss you on the spot. Then, every time your partner makes a negative remark you smile, whisper, and kiss. Although it sounds simplistic, many couples use this to redirect negativity. This keeps couples from rolling their eyes in reaction or commenting, “There you go again, always being negative.” This technique changes behaviors in a playful way.
Couples work is always challenging, and these three personality profiles can be extremely tough on a relationship. The recommendations given can help to restore your sanity and helps set boundaries and limits. No matter what the pattern, these techniques will empower you to improve your sense of self in the relationship.