‘Why is my wife yelling at me?’ Couples therapist shares 6 reasons why a partner might regularly ask this (and they’re not just angry)

 Upset wife and husband trying to work out what is wrong.
Upset wife and husband trying to work out what is wrong.

'Why is my wife yelling at me?' This is a good question, and it's not just because they're angry. A relationship therapist shares six common reasons partners question their wife's anger, and how to show support and understanding. 

If you're asking why your wife is yelling at you, it's actually a good question. If outbursts are becoming the norm in your household, there's likely a lot more to it than the simplistic notion your partner is 'just angry.' Women often carry much of the mental load, and struggle to explain this concept. Add to that the complex process of matrescence a woman experiences after giving birth, and a void in communication can open up.

Feeling disconnected from a partner after having a baby is normal for both sides. Add to that grappling with body changes, running a household and labyrinthine shifts in hormones, and it should be totally unsurprising women manifest the resulting emotions as shouting and yelling. This isn't just limited to new mums - matrescence can last for years, and the mental load evolves as children get older. Whatever stage of life, an unsupported partner, or one who doesn't understand her feelings, is going to break at some point - and this can look like anger.

To understand this more, we spoke to Cate Campbell, a BACP accredited sex, relationship, and trauma therapist. Cate tells us "Often there is no outlet for feelings of frustration within a relationship and partners don't recognise or appreciate the sense of responsibility women manage. They'll say, 'Just tell me what you want me to do' when women say they feel overwhelmed, not realising that this is not about performing a task, it's about knowing what needs to be done. The more frustrated they are and overwhelmed, the more likely women are to be upset or shout."

6 reasons your wife is yelling at you

  1. They're overwhelmed. As we've pointed out, being overwhelmed is a difficult emotion, and it's hard to know what to do with it. Yelling is the response to the emotion, and the two are separate entities. Stress can build and feel like extreme pressure. There can even be fear responses to the feeling of pressure. Yelling and shouting releases the difficult feelings - it might not be aimed at you, it's just that you happen to be in the firing line when the emotion flows out.

  2. A partner responds to them badly. Cate tells us "It's easy enough to notice someone becoming irritable or overwhelmed, but it's partners' response to this which often causes an issue. Assuming that someone's overwhelm is a criticism makes the issue worse." Don't respond with anger yourself- if you're asking why your partner is angry, you clearly don't think you've done anything wrong. Therefore, don't get defensive if they are upset - it could make things worse.

  3. Nobody is listening. Sometimes, it simply feels like partners and children aren't listening. If a woman has to repeat herself because everyone is absorbed with their phones or other activities, it can feel soul-destroying. Yelling because someone feels unheard, really isn't surprising. As an adult, the least you can do as a partner is listen to your wife when she speaks, prove you're really listening by summing up what she's told you, or simply be honest if you don't have time to listen - but make sure you clear time to return to the conversation later.

  4. Nobody asks what they need. Yes, their anger is apparent, but did you notice the build up to it, or are there obvious reasons for it if you look hard enough? Cate says "If someone notices their partner is becoming snappy, asking what they need is much more helpful than asking if you've done something wrong. And definitely more useful than telling them they're exaggerating or overwrought."

  5. Mental health struggles. Mental health issues after a baby or in the following years is normal. A woman might not even realise she's depressed - a condition commonly manifesting as anger. Getting a diagnosis can be difficult, and if you think your wife is suffering, you'll have to gently guide them towards getting an assessment and be supportive when you get an official opinion.

  6. They haven't been offered a break. Cate tells us "Women are groomed to be responsible for the emotion in the relationship and may feel obliged to soldier on when they've had enough. Asking if they need a break, and taking over the current task, is the way to help. If they haven't been much help lately, an apology may be appropriate too."

Not offering appropriate understanding or support can result in loss of respect from your wife, and even potential relationship breakdown. If you're both feeling upset and unable to work through your emotions, Cate suggests reaching out for support from a qualified therapist who can help you work through your problems and find solutions to make your union a happy one once more.

If you're looking to spice up your relationship, we have some expert tips. This daily habit could be killing your relationship, and nobody wants to be parenting their partner - make sure you aren't the one being parented in your relationship.