Overreacting is a common phenomenon among mammals as a method to protect themselves against potential danger. When people overreact or get irritated by “small things,” it is usually a sign of a bigger problem they are trying to avoid.
It’s common in all relationships to have a bit of strain or tension. Being in a relationship is hard work and involves a lot of compromises. Often, couples will find themselves in an awkward position where small things easily trigger their partners. “It’s only dishes; why are you so upset?” might be the question dwelling on a lot of husbands’ minds. So, why do our partners get mad over small things?
The psychology of overreacting can aid us in understanding why people get mad over small things and what we can do to address the issue. Let’s dwell deeper into the erratic behaviors that seem unjustified but are, actually, manners of logic.
Why Do Our Get Mad Over Small Things?
It is not unusual for humans, and even animals, to overreact to their surroundings. We have learned that people, throughout history, did not tolerate even the most minor mistakes to protect themselves from real danger. Some scientists are convinced that overreacting is a product of evolution. They argue that animals who reacted swiftly and capriciously to a threat had a better chance at survival. So, how does this help us to understand our partner’s behavior?
Overreacting to small things is only the response to a bigger problem that needs attention. Our partners feel threatened by something in the relationship and lash out at the more minor things as a protective mechanism against the more significant issue. The most common “bigger issue” or cause is usually the feeling of being exploited. When your partner assumes they are being taken advantage of, they will get mad about the small things that represent this exploitation.
Therefore, we can assume that our partners are not, actually, mad about the small things themselves, but rather something it represents or leads up to. This begs the question, “what is my wife, actually, mad about then?”
Before addressing this question, we have to look at another reason that contributes to the overreaction. Often, the environment is a major contributing factor to this issue. If people feel unprotected in their environment, they will overcompensate by reacting to anything out of place.
Therefore, if we want to understand the reasons behind the frustration of the small things, it is essential to note the following:
- First, overreacting is a natural behavior to prevent any potential threat.
- Secondly, overreacting to small things is a defense mechanism to avoid a more significant threat.
This basic knowledge of overreacting can help us dwell into a deeper understanding of why our partners get mad about small things.
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What Causes My Wife To Lash Out About The Small Things?
Exploitation is a key contributor to overreacting about small things, but what are some other reasons our partners overreact. Let’s address three reasons why our partners might lash out about small things.
The first is the physical realities. When we are exhausted, and hungry our tolerance is low when having to deal with confronting situations. In the fast-paced, rat-race world we live in now, we are confronted with stressful situations, which cause anxiety. If your partner is physically stressed and tired, it can result in lashing out at small things.
Secondly, we have presumptions. When we assume the cause of specific problems or even the reason for them, it can lead to an overgeneralization of the issue at hand. Robert Allan, the author of “Getting Control Of Your Anger,” mentions that the major contributor to anger is injustice. When our partners feel as if they are being mistreated in a particular aspect of the relationship, they might presume that other parts of the relationship are also unjust. These generalizations and assumptions can lead us to irrational conclusions about small things in the relationship.
Finally, one of the causes can be contempt. If we have avoided a relationship problem for a long time, we might have built up resentment towards one another. This can lead to mutual contempt for one another. Once this contempt becomes overpowering, all the responses during conversations will be perceived as a provocation.
These are some common reasons why our partners overreact and get mad about the small things in a relationship. The question now is, “Can we prevent our partners from overreacting?”
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How Can We Prevent Our Partners From Overreacting?
If we want to prevent our partners from overreacting, we should first assess the options that we can control. Let’s start with some basic advice we can implement.
To try and understand why our partners overreacted, we should stay calm during the confrontation and rationalize the situation. This is, of course, far more difficult when tensions are high. If we can take a moment before reacting to the situation, we might assess why it happened rationally. Remember that an overreaction about something small is only the response to a bigger problem. Try to find the clues as to why your partner is overreacting instead of addressing the overreaction.
What we are ultimately looking for are triggers that upset our partners. For example: If our partner came home after work and got mad about something small, which was out of place, we can search for triggers prior to the overreaction. Questions like; “Is she stressed at work?” and “Does she feel exploited when she has to do the dishes?” are far more helpful than “Why does she get upset about the dishes?”
Effective communication can go a long way to prevent overreactions. There are two significant aspects of effective communication we can use when trying to avoid upsetting our partner.
First, we should avoid defensiveness. It will not aid the situation to clear our name from any wrongdoings. Wanting to avoid criticism or blame for the problem might only upset our partners more.
Secondly, we should avoid responding to assumptions. If our partner has a presumption about a specific issue, we should rationalize the conversation instead of entertaining the idea that the assumption might be valid.
Remember that when our partners are upset about something small, we should try and assess all the triggers surrounding the issue instead of the problem itself.
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Is It Healthy To Fight About The Small Things In A Relationship?
Communication is paramount in relationships, and we are all aware that we should share the big serious issues with one another, but should we also fight about the small things?
Studies show that fighting about small things is not as negative as we might assume.
The author of “a book about love,” Jonah Lehrer, revealed some interesting information about what scientists discovered regarding the conflict in relationships. According to him, couples who often complained about small things were more likely to have a lasting relationship. On the other hand, spouses who were more likely to only complain about serious problems and avoid the small things ended up having more severe problems.
This discovery also concurred with the research of John Gottman. The Gottman institute revealed that couples who are not fighting after three years are cause for concern. At this stage in the relationship, couples are fully intimate, and not fighting might, ironically, be a sign of withdrawal.
So, even though we might be concerned that our partner is frustrated by small things, the relationship might be much healthier than we realize.
Fighting about small things might seem unnecessary and confusing, and we might try to avoid addressing issues like this altogether. However, the very problem we find so confusing is, actually, a sign of a healthy and lasting relationship.
Understanding the behavior of why our partners overreact goes a long way to addressing problems in a relationship. Still, more often than not, fighting about small things is a sign of a strong relationship and, most importantly, an indicator that your partner still cares about the relationship.