All couples are affected by one another’s mood.
A mood is a state of mind or feeling normally considered temporary. At any given time, your mood could be cheerful, gloomy, happy, worried, tense, angry, playful, etc. Your state of mind and feeling is reflected in your body language and voice tones.
Couples are pretty good at reading each other’s mood when it comes to happiness but rate poorly at accurately reading negative moods. In part because everyone tends to take their partner’s mood personally.
You might assume your partner’s scowl is because you did something, or that they are judging you or trying to give you a message. In fact, your partner’s mood may have little to do with you especially now, in unprecedented times.
Research shows that, even when a negative mood isn’t related to the relationship, it ultimately can be harmful to the couple. Part of the reason is because a partner is usually the primary support for a person.
If we don’t really know how our partner is doing, we can’t give them the healing balm of empathy.
Not knowing our spouse’s mood can be a lost opportunity for connection. Being left to accurately decode another’s moods without actually talking about it is a gamble. If you think it’s because you have done something wrong, you might not even ask.
Complicating this dilemma is that many people don’t like the questions, “What’s wrong?”, “Why are you in a bad mood?” or “Why are you upset?”. Because those inquiries can land as an attack or an insult. The partner being questioned may react with defensiveness and a worsened mood.
The inquiring partner most likely meant to be supportive. And now the couple feels less connected.
However, right now, all couples need to be more clued into each other. For the majority of us, the pandemic is the most stressful global experience we have ever known. The current stress affects the moods of both you and your partner. So how can we talk about our moods without worsening them?
Here is the solution we suggest.
This relationship ritual is not just for the time of Covid-19. It’s a good practice for most couples regardless of the situation outside the home.
Agree to make it a habit, to ask one another once or twice a day, “What are a few words that describe your mood this morning/evening?” And then listen carefully.
Because a mood is a state of thinking or feeling, there is plenty there to talk about. Don’t necessarily try to change your partner’s mood. Just listen and show empathy.
If your partner is sad, worried, upset with the world, hear them out before you offer any remedies. And then ask if they are open to suggestions.
If they are upset with you, offer to schedule a separate time to have a dialogue, which you can read about in our book.
It’s okay to add open-ended questions such as, “What do you think might be making you feel this way?” and “Is there anything I can do to support you right now?”.
It is important to note that when a negative mood goes on for a long time it can be a sign of depression. If your mood is negative for more than a few weeks, please consider calling your doctor for a consultation and reaching out for counseling.
Couples who feel connected through these hard times can actually help one another move through low moods. You can support, encourage, and inspire one another to do meaningful activities. Be playful. Get outside. Reconnect with family. And even enjoy the wonderful endorphins of a healthy sex life.
By adding the relationship ritual of a “daily mood check-in”, you can support the continuation of a good mood and the improvement of bad ones.
We are here to help you learn to be better communicators in the good and bad times. Contact us for a free strategy session and we will help you with ideas you can implement now.
Online Therapy Sessions: Get Help Now
Both Tim and Norene have been offering online couple’s sessions for years. Rest assured, we’re experts at helping you set things up on your end.
It will be some time before you can safely attend in-person sessions, so we have created a system that will help you now. Not months from now when things in your relationship have exploded.
If you need individual help with anxiety or depression during this time, we can help with that, too.