What To Do When A Partner's Bad Moods Affect Your Relationship

A woman standing on the street looking annoyed while her partner stands behind her looking the other way.

Christian Vierig / Getty Images

Perhaps as contagious as a yawn, a partner's mood swings can be hard to cope with.

Keeping up with day-to-day responsibilities can be tough enough. When it comes down to it, who among us wants to come home to a partner's incessant grouchiness, or all-around ill temper? Mood swings in a relationship can negatively affect your relationship and everyone that's close to you, including your kids.

While you and your children may follow the impulse to change your own behaviors to avoid conflict, it's not your responsibility to adjust to someone else's negative mood. On the contrary: Trying to do so only legitimizes such huffy behavior, and your resentment just builds. Ongoing bad behavior may morph into an emotional abusive situation. So whenever you notice that your partner's bad mood might be rubbing off on you, here are some ways you can take action. 

Acknowledge Your Reaction

It's a fact of life that you might react to your significant other's mood shifts by mimicking their anger, sadness, or hostility. Avoid indulging in negativity and be aware of your mood shifts. Drill down the rationale of your reactions by asking yourself these questions:

  • What, if anything, am I avoiding?
  • Is there a difficult issue we haven't discussed?
  • What am I frustrated or angry about?
  • Am I feeling jealous or unappreciated?
  • Do I have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder or anxiety?
  • Am I stressed because I'm working too much ?
  • Am I wallowing or playing the poor-me role?
  • Medication can cause mood shifts.Have you checked your medications?
  • Could hormones be the cause? Premenstrual syndrome and menopause impact a person's mood.
  • Sleep problems cause severe mood swings. Am I tired?
  • Did I drink enough water today?
  • Am I eating healthy and getting enough vitamins ?
  • Am I craving sunshine or fresh air?
  • Am I allowing my spouse's negativity to rub off on me?
A girl looking the other way while a guy looks like he's in a bad mood.
 Tanveer Badal / Getty Images

Exercise Coping Mechanisms

Once you've identified the true source of your feelings, don't just bury them inside. They could come back with a vengeance later on, or cause added problems in your relationship. Here are some ways to cope when you've entered the gloomy realm of your mood shifts. 

  • Give yourself 20 minutes of solitary quiet-time.
  • Make a playlist of songs you love.
  • Get some fresh air: Take a walk, garden, or forest-bathe. (Yes, it's a thing.)
  • Play with your dog, cat, or other pet.
  • Stretch out.
  • Practice breathing exercises.
  • Visualize positivity: "Visualizations can help us reprogram old fight-or-flight stress reactions and help us move into a "stay and play" mindset," says Emily Fletcher via MindBodyGreen.
  • Meditate for 10 minutes.
  • Discover the healing powers of aromatherapy: Light a scented candle or use an essential oil diffuser.
  • Look at pictures of the supportive and loving people in your life.
  • Drink water. According to a study, mild dehydration triggers moodiness.
  • Eat some dark chocolate; it triggers our brains to produce serotonin and endorphins—both are science-backed mood-boosters.
  • Watch a funny movie.
  • Relax with a shower or bubble bath.
  • Pick out some fresh-cut flowers and make a pretty arrangement. Exposure to plants and flowers have been proven to reduce pain and stress.
  • Ask for a hug; it may just end an argument.

Key Dos and Don'ts

Short of justifying your partner's mood, here's how to remain helpful:

Do:

  • Take responsibility for your own mood but never your partner's.
  • Acknowledge the bad mood and give your spouse space.
  • Offer support and compassion without nagging about what's wrong.
  • Consult a mental health professional if you feel dragged down by your partner's irritability.

Don't:

  • Assume you're the reason for the crabbiness.
  • Ignore extreme mood swings or depressive episodes. These could be a symptom of mental health challenges.
  • Lecture or preach to your S.O.
  • Give the silent treatment.
  • Rule out mental illness or mood disorder if your partner's low mood becomes status quo.
  • Suggest having sex.

Article Sources

MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our sources to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.

Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art Review . Int J Environ Res Public Health . 2017;14(8):851. doi:10.3390/ijerph14080851

Why Meditation and Visualization Aren't the Same (And How To Use Them) . Mind Body Green . September 10, 2015.

Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Shams S, Ahamad A, Khan SA, Anwar F. Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy: A Systemic Review . Asian Pac J Trop Biomed . 2015;5(8):601-611. doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

Ganio MS, Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, McDermott BP, Lee EC, Yamamoto LM, Marzano S, Lopez RM, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance and Mood of Men . Br J Nutr . 2011;106(10):1535-43. doi:10.1017/S0007114511002005

Jackson SE, Smith L, Firth J, Grabovac I, Soysal P, Koyanagi A, Hu L, Stubbs B, Demurtas J, Veronese N, Zhu X, Yang L. Is There a Relationship Between Chocolate Consumption and Symptoms of Depression? A Cross-Sectional Survey of 13,626 US Adults . Depress Anxiety . 2019;36(10):987-995. doi:10.1002/da.22950

Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y. Interaction with Indoor Plants May Reduce Psychological and Physiological Stress by Suppressing Autonomic Nervous System Activity in Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover Study . J Physiol Anthropol . 2015;34(1):21. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8

This Is How To Cope With a Stressful Divorce

6 Ways To Deal With an Unreasonable Ex

The Best Way to Deal with a Partner Who Is Always Late

Why Do I Feel Lonely in My Marriage?

28 Marriage Deal Breakers That Will Land You in Divorce Court

Being Newlywed Is Not Always Easy-These Are 19 Common Mistakes

5 Emotions You'll Experience When Your Child Divorces

Is Your Spouse Going Through a Midlife Crisis?

16 Signs of Falling in Love That Mean It's Real

If Your Child Is Angry About Your Divorce, Read This

Why Finding the "Right Person" Isn't the Cure for Relationship Anxiety

Some Irreconcilable Differences Can Be Solved (Here's How to Do It)

How to Deal When Your in-Laws Are Driving You Crazy

Here's How to Survive Your Spouse's Midlife Crisis

Article Sources
MyDomaine uses only high-quality, trusted sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial guidelines to learn more about how we keep our content accurate, reliable and trustworthy.
  1. Hansen MM, Jones R, Tocchini K. Shinrin-Yoku (Forest Bathing) and Nature Therapy: A State-of-the-Art ReviewInt J Environ Res Public Health. 2017;14(8):851. doi:10.3390/ijerph14080851

  2. Why Meditation and Visualization Aren't the Same (And How To Use Them). Mind Body Green. September 10, 2015.

  3. Ali B, Al-Wabel NA, Shams S, Ahamad A, Khan SA, Anwar F. Essential Oils Used in Aromatherapy: A Systemic Review. Asian Pac J Trop Biomed. 2015;5(8):601-611. doi:10.1016/j.apjtb.2015.05.007

  4. Ganio MS, Armstrong LE, Casa DJ, McDermott BP, Lee EC, Yamamoto LM, Marzano S, Lopez RM, Jimenez L, Le Bellego L, Chevillotte E, Lieberman HR. Mild Dehydration Impairs Cognitive Performance and Mood of Men. Br J Nutr. 2011;106(10):1535-43. doi:10.1017/S0007114511002005

  5. Jackson SE, Smith L, Firth J, Grabovac I, Soysal P, Koyanagi A, Hu L, Stubbs B, Demurtas J, Veronese N, Zhu X, Yang L. Is There a Relationship Between Chocolate Consumption and Symptoms of Depression? A Cross-Sectional Survey of 13,626 US Adults. Depress Anxiety. 2019;36(10):987-995. doi:10.1002/da.22950

  6. Lee MS, Lee J, Park BJ, Miyazaki Y. Interaction with Indoor Plants May Reduce Psychological and Physiological Stress by Suppressing Autonomic Nervous System Activity in Young Adults: A Randomized Crossover StudyJ Physiol Anthropol. 2015;34(1):21. doi:10.1186/s40101-015-0060-8

Related Stories