Arguing in relationships is normal, after all, spending so much time with one person is challenging, even when you love each other. Arguments can be part of a healthy relationship — they help you learn how to communicate with each other, as well as find common ground and compromise.
However, yelling and screaming in relationships could mean you’re releasing unresolved anger or resentment towards each other. The psychological effects of being yelled at in a relationship could also be harmful to you or your partner’s mental health.
We asked an expert how to stop yelling in a relationship, and what to do if arguments with your partner are getting out of hand.
Is yelling in relationships normal?
Some arguing or yelling is fine (we all lose our temper), but excessive yelling and screaming in relationships could indicate that the walls of communication have broken down between you and your partner.
“Whilst yelling on occasion can happen without too much impact on the relationship, there’s a risk that this sort of communication and behavior will become normalized,” says dating and relationship expert Pippa May.
So, why do we yell so much? “We yell when we feel threatened or attacked,” says May. “It’s a defense mechanism that triggers our fight-or-flight response. However, if every conflict, however small, is ending in a shouting match there is cause for concern.”
How arguing or yelling affect relationships
Arguing is normally a chance to be vulnerable and honest with our partner, but yelling breaks down this line of communication.
“This sort of arguing can be really damaging and can create a space where it’s not safe to express your needs, desires, and concerns with your partner,” May says.
She goes on to explain that yelling could also end in regret. “There are ways to engage in arguments and conflict in relationships that are healthy and productive. However, once we start yelling at our partners the chances of the deeper conflict being resolved declines — and it means that the things we say may not be totally true but are designed to be hurtful to our partner.”
How to stop yelling when angry
- Assess the triggers
If you’re wondering, “why do I yell so much?”, and you want to change your behavior, May suggests assessing the triggers.
“The underlying ‘why’ will help you to understand your reaction. For example, let’s say you yell when your partner comes home late from work every night, ask yourself ‘why?’, you might identify that you are not feeling like a priority and you want to spend more quality time together.”
Once you’re more aware of the reason you can then look at ways to be open, honest, and understanding with them.
- Manage external stress
Stress, whether it’s from work or just a busy life, can get to all of us — and could cause us to yell in an argument when we don’t really mean to.
Managing external stress, by getting out into nature, exercising, eating well, and even managing your time on social media, could stop you from yelling in an argument. Regular yoga or meditation practices can also help to reduce any stress in your life while talking openly with your partner about how the yelling is affecting you can also help.
“Anger usually masks other feelings, such as insecurity, sadness, or longing. Getting to the root cause will be really helpful,” May adds.
- Just… breathe
Another way to stop yelling during an argument is to learn how to breathe. If you’re already fired up, you’ll need to learn to calm down your sympathetic nervous system. “Taking a few deep intentional breaths and focusing on the present moment will be a game-changer because it will help to slow things down,” May says. “This is important because when we are angry, adrenaline pumps around our body, and we can become very reactive. Taking these deep breaths might also help to briefly, mentally, remove yourself from the situation.”
Is yelling in a relationship abuse?
Emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse. When yelling becomes personal and vindictive it can be mentally draining, causing problems not just in the relationship, but for the person being shouted at as well.
“Verbal and emotional abuse are extremely concerning and can be very damaging to an individual,” May warns. “If you’re worried whether you are being abused, you should reach out to a trusted family member or seek professional help.”
Can you stop someone else from yelling at you?
If you feel your partner’s yelling is getting out of hand and affecting your relationship, sit down with them, outside of an argument, and make them aware of how you feel. Just remember that as much as you can control your own anger or behavior, it’s up to your partner to take responsibility for theirs.
“People’s emotional responses are their responsibility, and we can only control our own reactions,” says May.
“You should not take the blame for someone shouting at you, the same way you cannot blame someone else for making you shout. Even if yelling is an instant response, it’s their instant response and therefore their job to work on it.”