Relationships

How to Help a Grumpy Partner


Stress may be an unavoidable aspect of your partner’s life, especially if they work in a tense environment or have a high-stakes job. But that doesn’t give them the right to take it out on you, either.

Instead of fighting fire with fire, you can easily transmute your partner’s frumpy-grumpy energy with a little TLC.

Disclaimer: If your partner is displaying verbally or physically abusive behavior, don’t stay silent. The 24/7 National Abuse Hotline is here for you. Contact them via telephone: 1-800-799-7233 or text “LOVEIS” to 1-866-331-9474.

It’s Not You

First and foremost, it’s important to remember that it’s not you. Unless you’ve purposely ruffled your partner’s feathers, unwarranted attitude is not your fault.

There’s definitely something else bothering them, and it’s not your job to fix it or internalize it. You’re there to support one another, not to dictate each other’s lives.

Even if they like calling you “mommy” or “daddy” in the bedroom, you’re not their parent. You’re full-grown adults.

It’s also vital to remember there are major differences between a grumpy attitude, a shitty personality, and abusive behavior.

Grumpy v.s. Shitty v.s. Abusive

A grumpy attitude is characterized by your partner displaying an out-of-character demeanor. More often than not, it’s traceable to stress, pain, or an internal struggle.

Furthermore, a grumpy attitude is only temporary and it’s rare. Chronic grumpiness may be a sign of something more serious — like being in love with a full-blown piece of shit.

A shitty personality is characterized by consistent, selfish, small-minded behavior centered around making you feel bad for no discernible reason.

It stretches what may have seemed like “playful teasing” at first into derogatory remarks and public humiliation.

Abusive behavior ranges from gaslighting to verbal and physical abuse. This is intolerable behavior that you do not deserve. Even if you feel trapped, you can get out of the situation. It all starts with telling someone.

Seek professional, legal, and personal support. You will make it through. There are plenty of people on this planet who love and care about you, regardless of whether you realize it right now or not.

How to Help a Grumpy Partner

Give Them a Little Space

The next time your partner bursts through the door, huffin’ and puffin’ with steam coming out of their ears, give them a little space. Don’t ignore them, but don’t ask them about their day just yet.

Give them time to get changed and unwind. It may take a little while for them to switch gears from work mode to relax mode after arriving home.

If you notice your partner doesn’t want to talk about whatever is weighing on their mind, it’s not worth pressing the subject.

Instead, focus on creating a comfortable space in which they feel safe sharing their worries.

Communicate When the Time is Right

Once they’ve cooled off, communicate with your partner. Start slow and allow them to control the pace of the conversation. They’ll open up when they’re ready.

If they continue to be emotionally distant, then communicate how their actions are making you feel. Because they’re stressed, they probably don’t realize the harm they’re doing to you and your relationship.

Sharing your side of the story can be a real eye-opener for them. But, again, tread lightly. If they’re still in high defense mode, they might internalize your feelings as an attack and rebuttal with something like:

  • “How could you say that to me?”
  • “That’s so selfish!”
  • “Why are you attacking me!?”

Support Your Partner

Initially, this is your time to put your listening skills to the test. Don’t interrupt them as they’re opening up. Don’t ask too many questions. Just listen, nod, and hold their hand.

As you’re holding one hand, extend a helpful olive branch with your other. Let them know you’re here for them for emotional support.

If you feel up for the task, you may also consider trying different relaxation techniques together. Whether that entails practicing yoga, drawing a warm bath for two, massaging each other, or taking up a light-hearted hobby together is your decision to make as a couple.

Don’t Be Stingy with Your Use of “I Love You”

Every relationship is different. While some couples seem like they’re in an infinite honeymoon phase, constantly gushing over one another, other couples may be a bit more reserved. Some people just feel uncomfortable saying “I love you” too often.

But you need to break that mentality. “I love you” doesn’t have to follow your every breath around your partner, but it shouldn’t be something that’s only reserved for special occasions.

Part of making your partner feel loved is letting them know they are loved. Tell them you love them, and tell them often.

Random Acts of Kindness

Little gestures go a very long way in a relationship. A random act of kindness could be as simple as…

  • Leaning over and giving them a peck on the cheek or forehead
  • Holding their hand — even if you’re just at home watching TV together!
  • Hugging them from behind while they’re cooking
  • Looking deep into their eyes and calling them beautiful
  • Texting them a loving GIF at some point throughout the day
  • Surprising them with a thoughtful gift, like a facial cream or a new dildo

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