How to Deal With a Negative Spouse


Today’s topic is, as always… about my marriage – because my marriage provides a lot of things to think about when it comes to… well, marriage. Go figure. It’s a great laboratory for me to get good stories and to come up with ideas for these posts that I do for you guys every week.

This morning my husband came into our bedroom with really good news. We have stock and share options with his work and what he had to share with me was actually really awesome ideal news. But, before I even celebrated that, or even got excited about it, I kind of went down a really negative path.

I went down into our finances and how we haven’t been on our budget, and how we haven’t met with our money coach recently… and my dear, sweet husband took it for a little bit, and then he said, “It’s so interesting how I came in here with good news and that’s all you have to say about it.”

Well, I also found it interesting, so today I’m going to talk about how do you deal with a negative spouse. Typically in a marriage, you have somebody who’s more positive, and the other person is more pessimistic and more negative.

Surprise, surprise! I am the more pessimistic negative spouse, so these tips I’m about to share with you are gleaned from my husband and his patient way of dealing with me, the problem one.

Stay Positive

Here are my top three tips. The first one comes from my husband. I asked him, “How do I help these other people who are struggling with negative spouses?” And he said, “You have to keep your spark alive. You have to stay positive yourself. Don’t let your spouse bring you down into their pessimistic attitude or their negativity about the world.”

You, as the more positive and more optimistic one have a really important role to play in your marriage, and if you aren’t keeping your spark alive then that’s not helping anyone, so do whatever you have to. If that means not being around your spouse when they’re in a grumpy mood, whether that means taking some time off and doing things you love, or just being around other really positive people, do whatever you need to do to keep that positive spark alive. Don’t let the negative one drag you down (speaking from the negative one’s perspective).

Ask If They Need Anything

Second tip is, ask if they have a request. Often people who are more pessimistic and negative have a hard time making requests, and so what they do instead is complain. So if you ask them if they have a request, then well… you can’t really complain about that. You either have a request or you don’t!

My husband will often do this for me, and yes I admit, there are moments where I’m like, ” Wait. You’re not just going to let me complain?” But it does snap me out of it sometimes and it works really well. Of course your tone of voice matters, because if you act all triggered and annoyed and snap at them like, “Ugh, do you have a request or what? Stop your barking and nagging and negativity!”, then obviously it’s not going to go very well. So be sincere about actually wanting to know what it is that they want help with, or what it is that you can do to help them.

Draw a Boundary

They might just say, “Well, there’s nothing that you can do, there’s no moving forward here, I just want to complain”, and so that gets me to my third and last tip, which is, give them a time frame. My husband will do this to me. He’ll say, “I can handle about five more minutes of negativity, then after that, I really need us to focus on the positive or I have to leave the room,” or do whatever he needs to do.

That is an incredibly mature thing to be able to do. Of course sometimes I’m like, “Wait a minute here, what do you mean I can’t keep on talking? You’re shutting me down,” but that’s him keeping his spark alive.

So, to recap: Keep your spark alive, ask if they have a request, and tell them what your limit is. Is your limit five more minutes? Is your limit quickly approaching? Communicate that. If you’re just walking out of the room, or if things are on the verge of blowing up, communicating your limit helps them kind of know what’s up.

I hope that helps you deal with your spouse if they’re really negative. On behalf of all negative spouses everywhere, thank you for putting up with us. Wanna know a secret? Sometimes we annoy ourselves with our own negativity and we actually appreciate someone giving us some boundaries and reminding us to remain a little bit more positive about things, and seeing the good things in life.

  1. Morgan Webber says:

    My wife showed me your site a week ago, I’m not sure she’s been back, but I’ve been poking around, and this one really struck home. It’s hard to keep the spark when you’re in a deluge. Building an umbrella to shelter under is really the only thing one can do.

    Thank you.

  2. Sarahgrace says:

    Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!
    3years ago I married the love of my life…..and since then I have descended into hell like none other I have ever known. My husband comes from a family that is very negative. His dads nickname is EOre and his mom is referred to piglet/chick little.
    I was an athlete prior to marriage and retired in 2015….what I’ve discovered in 3 very long/short years is that the negativity has completely unraveled every fiber of my athletic mindset. Yes, I’ve allowed it….but as a newly wed I was easily swayed to comfort and “support” until I woke up recently with the realization that this is killing me!!!! Our finances have tanked….my business failed. My health is failing…I’ve gained 25 lbs and became ore diabetic. I woke up this morning with a fire in my belly of change. And for the first time ready to just do it without any commentary about it to my husband. Last night a pastor jimmy evens talked about attitudes….and that the best response to a negative situationnor person is Love, Grace & Gratitude. Bravo to your husband and to you for share this openly for minister to others!!!!

  3. Jacqueline Edge says:

    So what happens if your negative spouse also gets angry when you confront them? I mean like livid type angry? I can’t say any of the above to him because there is no self-reflection. It’s all backlash against me and anger and turns to him yelling.

    • Janna says:

      Then you need very clear boundaries: “I love you but I’m not okay with you talking like that to me.” then walk away.

  4. VannesaB says:

    What if my negative spouse does not want to admit he is the negative spouse and blames me for his attitude/mood?

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