Welcome to a step-by-step guide on how to deal with a negative spouse, as written by someone who’s lived to tell the tale.
To say that living with a negative person and having to walk on eggshells is exhausting is a huge understatement.
Some years back, when I was still with my ex, I was in a similar situation. The person I had met completely vanished within a few months of us being together.
His initial positivity and everything he was passionate about turned into a never-ending bad mood, filled with negative energy, and it was a really hard time for me.
All I could think was: “What do I do? What’s going on with the person I was hoping to one day have a happy marriage with?”
I couldn’t handle my own thoughts, as being with your negative spouse (or life partner) regularly and having no escape messes with your mental health BIG time.
I wasn’t just going to give up, though.
I’ve always been a perfectionist, which means I gave it my all to find a way out of that black hole. I mean, what do you do when your loved one is constantly overwhelmed with negative emotions?
If you want to make it work, you push through it. You go to marriage counseling. You try super hard not to let his negative attitude rub off on you.
Below, I’ll discuss how I made the best out of a bad situation. We ultimately didn’t work out (for different reasons), but these tips were a HUGE game-changer.
A Handy Guide On How To Deal With A Negative Spouse
Don’t let their negativity ruin your well-being. Regain your positive energy and put yourself in the BEST situation to help your spouse with these life-changing tips.
Never take their negativity personally
It’s rarely about you. It’s almost always about their inner struggles. They direct it at you, as you live with them, but it’s never something to take personally.
That’s what helped me stay sane. I focused on myself and all the ways that I could help myself feel better.
If my partner chooses negativity, fine. That doesn’t have to be my reality. While it can be challenging living with someone like that, you can always choose how much you let them affect you.
Granted, this is a temporary solution, but the steps below go into much more detail on how to handle a negative spouse.
Let your positive energy prevail
If you’re a naturally positive person, let that prevail every day. The moment your spouse comes home and brings that negative energy, shift your focus onto something positive.
Let’s say they had a bad day at work (surprise, surprise!) and complained from the moment they walked through the door. Say that it sucks for them, but you just made their favorite meal, which you’re sure will make them feel better!
This is just one example that may or may not work. The point is to replace their negative patterns with your positive ones. Be happy and try to give them a reason to smile.
Hopefully, that can be enough, at least until you figure out your next course of action.
Figure out what’s going on before judging them
Has something recently happened that may have caused them to turn severely negative suddenly?
Could it be trouble at work, issues with family members, or something financial in nature?
There has to be a reason for their behavior. Nobody just wakes up and decides that they’ll be grumpy from today onward.
If you feel like they won’t be straight with you, try to figure it out on your own. Who knows, you just might be onto something.
Dealing with a negative spouse doesn’t always have to be a problem. Sometimes, it takes figuring out their inner issue and helping them get on top of it.
Listen to them carefully and see if you can help out in any way
Listen to the words that they’re saying. Your spouse might be unwilling to say exactly what is going on, but they might accidentally give you a hint.
My advice is to listen carefully. You might uncover a lot more than you think you will. And with a little bit of luck, you might even be able to help in some way.
Focus on all their POSITIVE traits (and remind them too)
You married them, so there MUST be something positive about them! So, how did they win you over?
It can be difficult to reminisce about the happier times right now but try. That way, you’ll uncover so many happy memories that you’ve suppressed due to their sudden negative emotions.
You used to have a happy marriage, and your spouse used to make you very happy, right?
If you go back to those times and remind yourself (and them) of how great things were not so long ago, it might be the kick they needed to get back to who they were.
Create healthy boundaries
How far are you willing to let their negativity go? There have to be healthy boundaries to what you’re willing to accept.
At some point, you have to say no. No to their negative energy, no to their negative comments, no to them trying to turn you into a jaded person. Boundaries are there for a reason.
A negative person will always try to victimize themselves and make you feel sorry for them. But how is that ever going to result in a positive resolution?
Pity doesn’t get you anywhere. Taking action does.
Has your spouse always been negative, or is it a recent thing?
Did you marry a narcissist in disguise? Has your spouse always been a bundle of negativity, or has it happened recently?
This plays a huge role in how your marriage unfolds. If this is who your spouse has always been, then you’re going to have a hard time changing their innate personality.
BUT, if they used to be a happy-go-lucky person, something had to make them act this way, so there’s hope after all.
Now, I’m not saying figuring it out will be easy for anyone involved, but it means it could end on a happy note.
Surround yourself with people whose energy matches your own
This means your family members, co-workers, closest friends, and anyone you find it easy to be with.
Having positive energy around affects your mood in major ways. Negative people suck all the joy out of you, which results in you turning into a pessimistic grump.
Don’t socialize with anyone who’s an energy vampire. Stay close to people who make you happy to be alive and people whose presence affects you in all the best ways.
Those are the people who’ll help you survive this entire marriage ordeal with a bit more ease.
Don’t let anyone project their unhappiness on you
This will sound harsh, but just because this is your spouse, it does NOT give them the right to poison you with their negative comments.
Remember that no one has power over you. If they’re unhappy, they need to be able to work it out within themselves.
You’re always going to be their support system, but they need to be the one to take action. You’re nobody’s puppet.
Never let anyone compromise your own happiness just because they don’t know any other way to be. Help them out, be their sounding board, but never allow for their negativity to consume you.
Help your spouse realize that they’re the root of their problem
Don’t let your spouse’s evil art of blame-shifting help them evade responsibility for their actions. They are most likely the root of their issues.
Until they face their demons head-on, they’ll never be able to shake this negativity. So, to answer your question: How do I handle a negative spouse? – Let them realize that they hold the key to their happiness.
Maybe they’ll finally be able to accept it, or maybe they’ll keep refusing to take responsibility for their actions. Either way, it’s entirely on them.
Get them out of the house and do stuff together
As a final step in my guide on how to deal with a negative spouse, I recommend spending more quality time together.
If you both live busy lives and are often apart due to work commitments (and whatnot), it’s time to get your spouse out of the house and do something as a couple.
There are SO many fun couple activities that will help you fall in love with each other all over again. Go biking, relive your first date, listen to fun podcasts together, or anything else you’re both into!
You can’t wave a magic wand and expect things to change in an instant, but you can speed up the process by reminding yourselves of why you got married in the first place.
Trust that those who WANT to stay in your life will always stay
“Never underestimate your power to change yourself; never overestimate your power to change others.” – Wayne W. Dyer
If your spouse is meant to stay in your life, they’re going to stay. If, after everything you’ve done for them, they still make zero effort to change their ways, let things flow at their natural pace.
Don’t try to make someone stay if they keep proving that they don’t care enough to make it work.
You can love someone more than words can say, but at some point, you have to put your well-being first. People change, and life happens in the blink of an eye. Instead of resisting it, accept it.
Right now, it might not make a lot of sense. But one day, you’ll realize that letting things happen the way they’re supposed to is the best decision you could’ve made.
No one can say for certain what’s going to happen. All you can do is try your best to make life with a negative person bearable.
If all your efforts go to waste, you always have yourself. It’s better to be alone than surrounded by constant negativity.
How To Shift Your Negative Thinking Patterns
If you also struggle with bouts of negative energy, here are some helpful steps you can take to better yourself.
• Immediately resist the urge to engage in negative self-talk.
The moment you catch yourself drifting away in negative self-talk, nip it in the bud. That’s the surest way to keep it under control.
You have to learn how to keep yourself in check. If you don’t control your emotions, they’re going to take control of your life. All it takes is some willpower and perseverance.
• Surround yourself with positive people.
The easiest way to stay positive and keep on the right track is by being alongside people who bring out the best in you.
Who’s your go-to person in times of need? Call them up whenever you need a break.
Take long walks, talk about positive stuff, and smile together. The simplest solutions are always the best ones.
• Cultivate an attitude of gratitude.
Be grateful for everything you’ve got. It might not be a whole lot, but it’s more than some people have. Be grateful for waking up every day and having the ability to kick the day’s ass.
Be grateful for the people in your life who make it all worthwhile. Be grateful for your health and the health of your family members.
Doesn’t that put it ALL in perspective?
• Seek professional help if it comes to that.
Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. If your mind is messed up, it’ll reflect badly on the quality of your life.
I took that step a few years ago, and it resulted in major changes in my life. You can’t even imagine how much a licensed professional can help you turn things around.
• Change your sleeping habits.
Sleep is so important. If you don’t get enough of it, it’ll make you cranky, low on energy, and with a short fuse.
If you go to sleep way too late and get up very early, it’s time to change your sleeping patterns. You’d be surprised how much the quality of your sleep can affect your daily life.
• Eat healthily and exercise.
I’m sure you’ve already heard this a million times. Only, something tells me that you rolled your eyes every time and grabbed a bite of your delicious cheeseburger. Am I warm?
Yes, exercise and healthy eating habits take a LOT of willpower, but once you get used to it, you’ll never allow yourself to go back. I can testify to that first-hand.
• Try new, adventurous things you’ve never dared to do before.
Don’t let your life fall into a rut. Before you realize it, you’ll have wasted your youth on never doing anything outside of your daily schedule. It’s time to break out of it.
Go on an adventure of a lifetime with your best friend. Go skydiving (especially if you’ve always wanted but never allowed yourself to do it). Get out of your comfort zone and start enjoying life!
• Do one thing every single day that makes you smile.
This one’s simple. What makes you happy? For me, it’s hearing my best friend’s voice, spending time with my nieces, eating Maltesers, and cuddling with my dog.
Figure out your own and do one thing from your list every single day. If you can, start your day like that and see how much more energized, productive, and positive you’ll be.
• Love yourself through all your flaws and shortcomings.
Self-love is the most important love of all. You teach people how to treat you. The more you love yourself, the more others will too.
Yes, you have flaws. Yes, you mess up from time to time. But so do I, and so does everyone else.
Nobody’s trying to be the perfect human specimen. We’re all just doing the best with what life gave us. Love yourself through every up and down and see your world change.
Nurture Your Mind With Positive Thoughts
And don’t let anyone’s negativity overwhelm your positivity. You can’t change who your spouse is, but you can change your willingness to live with it.
You are who you surround yourself with. You can’t choose your family members, but you can distance yourself from their negative energy. It’s never wrong to prioritize your well-being.
Sometimes, creating some healthy distance is necessary to realize who’s meant to stay and who’s a mere passerby in your life.
While I sincerely hope that my guide helps your marriage in major ways, you also have to realize that you can’t help someone who doesn’t want to be helped.
It’s important to keep a sane head throughout this ordeal, as your thoughts shape the reality that you live in. In the words of the inspiring Mahatma Gandhi:
“Keep your thoughts positive because your thoughts become your words. Keep your words positive because your words become your behavior. Keep your behavior positive because your behavior becomes your habits. Keep your habits positive because your habits become your values. Keep your values positive because your values become your destiny.”