The Tricky Emotional Skill That Happy Wives Have Mastered

A therapist shares what works in her practice — and her 35-year marriage.

Woman getting her emotional need met by meeting with a friend for coffee Sparklestroke Stories | Canva

No matter how close you are in your marriage, your husband is just another person with his own set of insecurities, moods, needs, and attitudes. Just like the rest of us, his life spins around the complex mental axis of his personal universe. After being married for 35 years, I've come to realize that when we can't be there for each other during every up and down. There must be other ways that we can both get our emotional needs met. 


The first step is to accept that your partner is not your emotional savior. Once you do that, you're free to explore other ways of dealing with your emotional needs. This can be a very empowering change in your life, and in your relationship.

Assuming responsibility for the way we feel puts us back in control of our emotions. 

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Six ways to put yourself back in control of your own emotions 

1. Reach out to a trusted friend or family member

I call my mom sister, or my daughter — all are great listeners and advise-givers. For you, it may be reaching out to a relative or friend to vent. I'm sure there is someone in your life you can trust. A good conversation with someone who listens exposes your issues to the light and gets them off your chest.


2. Calm down with music

Listening to meditation music calms my mind and helps me regain a rational perspective. Guided meditation or spiritual music, sometimes combined with self-hypnosis, are powerful ways to calm down the nervous system. When the fight or flight response to stress is soothed, the rational mind once again prevails and offers a positive perspective, along with solutions for the specific stressor that's causing your emotional turbulence.

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3. Get your emotions on paper

I may also journal about what's upsetting me and see if that lessens its significance and allows some kind of understanding to emerge. You may express your emotions on paper or screen by writing, or even drawing them out, symbolically releasing them. There is no right or wrong way to release your emotions by journaling. Let your mind guide you.


4. Consult Drs. Google and YouTube

At times, I listen to coaches and experts on mental and emotional well-being online. I like exploring concepts of self-help and healing, and there is a vast universe of teachers (old and new) available to share their wisdom. Exploring your options and finding the ones that ‘click’ means that you are attending to your emotional needs.

5. Talk to your inner child

I also talk to my inner child (in the privacy of my mind), as she is a critical part of my psyche. It's important to validate her upset, acknowledge her feelings, and reassure her that she is worthy and good enough. Take a stand for your younger self, who may not have been understood or acknowledged growing up. Love them in this moment and reassure them you, as a grown-up, have got their back. After all, they deserve nothing less than your understanding, kindness, and compassion.

6. Ask: "What do I need to feel better?

I ask myself, "What do I need right now to feel better?" Sometimes the answer is as simple as "I'm hungry," "I'm bored," or "I just need a break." Surprisingly, your mind is on your side and will eagerly respond. Zooming into our upset and taking a specific action, like eating an apple, going for a walk, or agreeing you’ll take a bath later, can make emotional unease disappear. After all, you've just tended to your needs.


Relaxing with music helps fulfill her emotional needs - Yuri A via Shutterstock

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And when you feel in control, your mind opens up to other options, like creating your support system. Your husband is one person on your support team, but he's not the sole source of support. So if he's not there for you at the moment of your emotional breakdown, remind yourself this is normal and you have other ways to calm yourself and get the support you need.


Tending the garden to fulfill emotional needs Lenin Suntaxi via Shutterstock

If something heavy happens, and I need more help, I call a friend who's a healer, and she comes over and does a reflexology massage and energy work on me. There is another friend I may call who does hypnosis and counseling. Exploring healing options, such as therapy and medical or holistic modalities, is tending to your emotional needs. Our minds and bodies are intermingled together and sometimes, addressing one positively benefits the other.

And so, there is a multiverse of self-help available beyond the notion my husband is not there for me, because he is. His absence is allowing you to grow and evolve through the process of self-discovery.


"But why do I even need a husband if he's not always there for me?" you may ask. Pause for a moment and count the reasons. Don't blame him for who he is not for you, but instead, appreciate him for who he is. I'm sure there are many reasons why he's a keeper – if you look.

After all, if the tables were turned, wouldn't you want him to claim responsibility for his emotions and grow and develop into an emotionally congruent person? You can’t control your partner’s choices, but you can set an example so that, eventually, you’re like two stars sharing a galactic dance of harmonic union.


And that’s a beautiful thing in marriage.

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Katherine Agranovich, Ph.D., is a Medical Hypnotherapist and Holistic Consultant. She is the author of Tales of My Large, Loud, Spiritual Family.