So many men struggle with how to engage with their wife’s emotions. Often, they fail to empathize because they were not taught how in their family growing up.

If you are someone who has deeply struggled with what to say to repair after fights, or with empathizing with your wife (or with everyone), this post is for you.

Here is a list of five things you can say to your wife to defuse and de-escalate conflict, as well as to show her that you love her.

If these feel foreign to you, that isn’t because they are “fake,” but because you are learning a new skill, and every new skill feels unnatural at first, from sports to work to communication. Let’s begin!

Here are the five things to say to your wife when she is mad:

1. “Our relationship is more important to me than this fight.” 

As discussed here, the most important thing to say to your wife is that your relationship is more important than any fight. There are some exceptions to this, when a fight is about a key issue that defines the relationship, e.g. if you have discovered that your wife is cheating on you.

But in general, there should be very, very few issues that are more important to you than the relationship as a whole. If you struggle with thinking every little thing is important, read this.

2. “I love you.” 

Verbalizing a vulnerable feeling may be difficult when you are upset, but it can immediately defuse conflict. If you do love your wife, there is no bad time to say it, especially if you are the avoidant partner.

Your wife likely feels emotionally abandoned by you if you are fighting, which can be hard to understand if you do not often feel this way. Read this to understand more.

3. “I don’t want to fight with you.” 

You may think this is obvious, but it isn’t. It takes two people to fight, despite that more avoidant men think that it is only their preoccupied wife who “starts.” To learn more about the dynamic you are likely in, avoidant man and preoccupied women, listen to this and this.

4. “I’m sorry.” 

Find something in the fight that you can deeply and genuinely apologize for. Certainly, not being empathic enough would be an easy one. Likely, you were dismissive or defensive as well. Remember, as discussed here, an apology will likely lead to more conversation, despite that you think it should be a conversation-ender.

This is a good thing, because it means your wife is feeling heard, and is willing to confide more about her feelings. She isn’t doing this to hurt or browbeat you, but to process what she felt.

5. “What can I do to make this better?” 

This shows your wife that you are willing to change and grow. You are being open-minded and asking for feedback, which indicates a deep commitment to the relationship and to helping her feel better. 

Openmindedness and willingness to get outside your comfort zone are key traits that are associated with happy marriages.

If you want to grow even more adept at communication, be sure to read this on how to resolve empathic ruptures (listen to a podcast about this that goes into depth about it here), this post on ten things women want to hear in general, and this podcast about which men have trouble empathizing with women.

Try some of these five suggested points in your next argument, and if they do not work, couples counseling can help you figure out what is still going wrong.

And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Moms, Help Your Sons Know This Stuff Automatically!