3. Focus on the positive. When we become locked into the fear/shame spiral, we get locked into negative perceptions. "He's mean, he's inconsiderate, he's angry all the time, he's withdrawn, he doesnt love me." Most women I talk with want to help get the "mean" out of their man. They want to "de-mean" him, but end up "demeaning" him. Focus on the positive: from Mr. Mean to Mr. Wonderful. Focus your attention on the ways he has been, or you would like him to be, wonderful.
Most women really don't want "Mr. Nice." They want a whole man, not a perfect man. They want a man they can love and who loves them. I've learned over the years that what you focus on, increases. If you want Mr. Wonderful, look for all the ways — small ones and large ones — in which your man is wonderful. Keep a journal of all the good stuff and read it when you are feeling afraid.
4. Be the best you can be when he's being his worst. It's relatively easy to be your best when you are getting the best from your partner. It's a lot more difficult when you are getting a lot of irritability, anger, judgment, silence, etc.
Here's an exercise that can help: write down the things that are best about you as a person, then jot down what's best about you as a partner. Most women wouldn't write they are their best when they are fearful, angry, nagging, blaming, shaming, etc. They are at their best when they are honest, compassionate, courageous, accepting and optimistic. When times are tough and you're tempted to respond with fear or shame, read what's best about you as a person and a partner and let that deeper truth guide your response.
5. Instead of having a talk, write a love letter. For year's my wife and I have used a "love letter" process we learned from John Gray. When you're feeling a lot of negative emotions in your life, write a letter to the person who seems to be triggering them. You're not going to give it to the person so use whatever language best conveys your feelings. "Dear_________." Then write down any hurt and pain you are feeling. Next, write down any anger or irritation you feel. Go on to write things that trigger your anxiety and fear. Continue with the things that cause you to feel guilt and shame. Finally, write about your love and understanding.
Most of us either deny our feelings or we get stuck on one level or another. We get locked up in our hurt or our anger. This allows you to express the whole range of your emotions in a safe way. People tell me they always feel better after writing one.
Let me close by saying that I'm not suggesting talking with your partner will always trigger shame or you should never talk. I am saying there are a lot of ways we can heal, even when our partner does not want to "talk about it." You'll find as you act on these practices more and talk less, the emotional climate will thaw out and you'll be able to talk without triggering more fear and shame.