What to do when she wants to vent

 In Communication, Emotional Expression, Emotions, Healthy relationships, Managing Emotions

How is the venting system working in your relationship? Does it function properly? Or, do you find that when your spouse wants to vent, problems erupt?

The other day a couple raised this issue with me. They were talking about a fireplace being installed in their home. The wife complained that her husband won’t let her vent. Whenever she expresses her frustration about something, he tells her to calm down and not make such a big deal out things.

I asked her,“Does that work?”

She replied,“No, it only makes me more angry!”

I turned to the husband and asked him about the fireplace.“Does it have a venting system?”

“Of course” he replied. Then I asked, “What would happen if you kept the vent closed when you burned logs?”

“That would not be smart” he said.

I smiled. He sheepishly grinned. “I get it.”

Relationships are equipped with a venting system. The keyis knowing how to regulate it. Here are 5 tips every guy can use when the girl he loves wants to vent.

Don’t try to control her vent

The worst thing you can do is to take control of her vent. Saying things like, “Calm down” or “Quit acting so crazy” does not work. It will only make her more angry. She may vent even louder. Or, if she closes the vent, she will stew at you the rest of the day.

Remain calm yourself

Notice the guy in the picture. While his wife is venting, he sits in a relaxed posture. He gives her eye contact. The expression on his face is calm and focused.

This is what I call being the stress-reducing partner. His non-verbal communication is calming and helps regulate her vent without taking control away from his wife.

How do you remain calm? Here’s what I try to do.

  • I take a deep breath and count to five. Repeat this a few times.
  • I remind myself that my job is to listen, not to fix.
  • I choose to give her the respect of my attention and support.
Let her vent

The purpose of a vent is to release energy, usually in the form of heat: frustration, anger, etc… Sometimes the feelings are sadness, worry or confusion. These are simply emotions that need a release point. Venting is necessary.

Listen without judgment

Feelings are neither right or wrong. They are neutral. It is not your right to judge your spouse’s feelings. Just because you don’t share her view or have the same feelings doesn’t mean she does not have the right to hers.

Giving her the freedom to vent creates safety in the relationship. It also conveys acceptance–“I accept you for who you are and support your right to say how you feel.”

Ask a curiosity question

Curiosity questions are a powerful form of healthy communication. By taking a position of curiosity you might ask,“What do you need from me right now?”

Men like to fix problems. It’s how we’re wired. We often give advice when it is not requested. This is why I like the curiosity question.

Often a spouse might say,“I don’t need anything. I just want you to listen while I vent my frustrations.” In the illustration above the wife said,“I just need to listen and give me a hug.”

Now it’s your turn

Guys, women are not that complicated. Our reactions to their emotions is what often complicates things. Problems are avoided if we can simply allow them to vent.

Which of the five tips do you need to work on? Your effectiveness begins with you getting control of you–not her.

If you want more help with this, check out my blog: How to Fix Her Problem in 5 Easy Steps

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