Understanding Bad Moods in Marriage

When either you or your spouse experiences a bad mood it can very easily have a negative impact on your relationship.  Often the effect is only temporary.  But, if bad moods are manifested frequently and go unchecked it can result in a much more serious problem.  Below you will find some information the causes of bad moods and how they are a danger to your marriage.

A mood is simply an emotional state.  Moods have either a positive or negative valence – good moods and bad moods.  Your mood is a result of various stimuli and circumstances you face in daily life.  Bad moods can result from a variety of natural factors such as lack of sleep, hunger or improper nutrition, illness or physical discomfort, and so forth.  Another source of bad moods is ego depletion – the idea that every person has a limited pool of self-control or willpower which can become lowered as a result of response to external conditions.  In other words, when you exert the discipline required to endure unpleasant tasks, personal conflicts, or other undesirable situations your ability to regulate and control your mood will be diminished.

Stress is the common denominator of all bad moods.  All of the above conditions result in a stress response which can manifest itself emotionally, mentally, physiologically, or some combination of these.  Therefore, to a significant degree managing your mood is really a function of managing stress.

Obviously bad moods are undesirable on a personal level.  Often when you undergo temporary episodes of feeling stressed, anxious, or depressed it is because you are simply experiencing a bad mood.  No one likes that.  [It should be noted that if such episodes are irregularly frequent or persistent that that it may have a more serious cause that should be investigated by a professional.]

But it is also important to consider both the immediate and long term implications of bad moods in your marriage and other relationships.  Bad moods typically are characterized by things such as irritability, anger, aggression, criticism, cynicism and other negative responses.  They can also cause you to process information poorly and, therefore, shut-down mentally and emotionally becoming non-communicative and unresponsive to others.  None of these things bode well for your social relationships.

You could simply tell yourself (or your spouse – yikes!), “Don’t act like that.”  But this is much easier said than done.  Remember, bad moods are often a result of exhausting your natural capabilities to regulate the faculties required to do this.  Some seem to innately have a higher or lower threshold for controlling emotions under prolonged stress.  But, everyone has a breaking point in which a bad mood will surface.

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