My Wife Yells at Me: How to Respond Constructively and Find a Solution

by Jennifer Richardson

my wife yells at me

This article does not discuss WHY your wife yells at you.

Why is she yelling? It might be the situation, her, you, or a family member – or it might be no one’s fault at all. 

The why is a whole other discussion for another day! 

So whatever the reason and whoever’s at fault  – you want to know what to do, right?

This article is about WHAT you can do for yourself.

Read on for the way forward.

A New Relationship Skill

It’s not the same as just anyone yelling at you – we are talking about your intimate partner.

Your lives and families are connected. You can’t just run away (well, you can, but I’m guessing you don’t want to).

There is one very useful thing you can do, however. And once you understand and practice it, you can do it for any situation or relationship.

Let me introduce you to the ‘B’ word (not that one) –

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I don’t remember the lesson in school (or at home) about boundaries. It’s possible I wasn’t listening in class that day. It’s also possible it was never mentioned.

Unless you study the right topic at school or meet a  professional or expert on communication or psychology, you may never run into the concept of Boundaries.

Sure, the word is more common these days, but what are boundaries, and how do you actually make them?

In this context, boundaries are not the perimeter of your parcel of land. We are referring to personal boundaries.

You set an invisible barrier to protect yourself from unwanted ‘intrusions.’ In this case, we are talking about verbal abuse or, at the very least, heated words from another party.

Boundaries can help you to separate your life, feelings, and thoughts from those of others. They help you preserve your integrity and identity.

“When we fail to set boundaries and hold people accountable, we feel used and mistreated.”

Brene Brown

It could be helpful if you know the ‘why’ – why your wife is shouting at you.

But if you do not know why (and neither does she), there are still things you can do to protect yourself or disarm the situation if it is happening with increased frequency.

So, what are boundaries?

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I remember someone making a comment once to me.

“You don’t have any boundaries!”

I was a little shocked but, at the same time, thankful to that person for introducing me to a concept that I would use from that moment in many settings.

There are different types of boundaries, as I will discuss below.

Essentially they are protective psychological barriers – a separation that you set that limits your involvement in a relationship (or activity).

It’s your personal line in the sand.

What do they ‘look’ like? If you have no boundaries, you might always be a  people-pleaser, always saying “yes” when you mean no.

There can be different ‘levels’ of strictness when it comes to boundaries.

An example of a  strict boundary may be isolating yourself from most people and restricting the situations you will expose yourself to. (This is a little hard to do if the relationship is with your wife or partner).

A ‘healthy’ boundary situation is where you establish both – what you find acceptable behaviour from others, as well as what others can expect to receive from you too.

For example, it might be as simple as identifying your own needs and being able to effectively communicate those needs. Although this sounds simple, many people do not learn healthy ways to communicate their needs. This can lead to resentment and all sorts of miscommunication and confusion.

Showing others what you are about; might just be when people tell you “no, thanks,” you respect their wishes.

Boundaries may differ from situation to relationship.

If your wife is yelling at you, there may be various areas of your life where you need to set different types of boundaries for yourself.

Consider the current situations in your life  – perhaps you need to set physical boundaries (your personal space, acceptable public behaviour, touching etc.).

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This will be individual and personal, just like the rest of your boundaries and personal limitations.

And there are other areas of life – such as financial, emotional, sexual or intellectual (like dismissing someone else’s beliefs) where you might need to decide what is acceptable.

It’s probably not just your wife – it feels like half the world is arguing with someone else by dismissing their right to their own thoughts, memories and experiences!

People are different. They are not ‘wrong’ if they don’t do things or think the same way as you.

If your wife is yelling at you because the way you do things or think is different, then it might be time to think about setting some boundaries of behaviour. It might be time to decide what you will accept and start thinking about your needs.

How to Set Personal Boundaries when my wife yells at me

At the outset, it’s essential to acknowledge that this will not be an easy task for some people.

Telling people how you feel? (Eww!)

Speaking up for yourself? (Double eww!!).

It is perfectly normal to be worried about the reaction you will receive too. 

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What if she gets upset, angry or yells even more? Maybe she will think I am controlling her? Might she think I’m a thoughtless or selfish guy?

It’s all understandable, but the yelling might not stop just by wishing it away. 

So below are some points to remember and tips on how to set your boundaries-

The aim – Express your Needs
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If you set a boundary based on your needs and feeling, then it shows you are not blaming anyone. You are simply stating what you need (your needs have equal importance in the relationship).

If you focus on the yelling rather than your needs, she may be less open and become defensive.

Your aim is hopefully to improve your life and relationship, not shame, embarrass or upset her.

💡 You can try and focus on saying things from your point of view like – “I need” or “I feel,” rather than “You always do this” or “Your behaviour is…..” 

Communicate in Specific Terms

It probably goes without saying that healthy communication is vital in any relationship, not least that of your wife or partner.

Communicating a boundary can be tough, especially if you are not used to standing up for yourself.

💡 Try to state your specific needs, like “My feeling are hurt when you yell and accuse me without asking my side of a topic first. I need to be listened to before you react to a situation.”

If you are not specific, your wife may not understand what you need and how to respect your feelings, and she may inadvertently miss the point.

Consistency is Key

Remember when you were a kid? Your parents told you something, but then they did the opposite themselves!

Or when you were told you had to go to bed early every night, but this was rarely enforced, and you went to bed at all different times.

Well, this is a lack of consistency in the message.

And kids notice your actions, no matter if you try and tell them otherwise! The same goes for your boundaries.

If you communicate your needs and then go back on your word or change your behaviour each time, your wife or partner may not take your boundary-setting attempts seriously.

If your boundaries are not important to you, they may not be to others.

Timing is Everything

As you probably already know, discussing your needs while being yelled at probably won’t work!

Just think about times when you are most receptive to conversations of this nature. Those times may be when you are calm and almost cheerful or happy. When the mood is light, any discussion is easier and more effective. And defensiveness is likely to be lower at this time.

Also, most people will not like it if the conversation is in public or in front of close contacts or family. You might be putting her on the spot.

The success of your boundary setting can be increased significantly just by considering when you have the talk.

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Assess the Situation

Yelling and arguments are highly stressful for most people. It is hardly a nice environment to be around, especially if it is a regular occurrence.

Try an analyse the situation and notice when or why it arises.

The when may give you a clue about the why (but not always). And this is not to excuse the other person’s behaviour  – it is simply to understand the dynamics to know how to move forward.

You do not need to become a psychologist – just observe the patterns, triggers and situations if possible.

Awareness of the environment, your partner and your own input into the situation will assist you in clarifying what you want and need in your relationship. 

Relationships are the cornerstone of most people’s happiness in life   – they are worth working on.

But you do not have to take responsibility for other people’s actions. There are two adults in the relationship.

Baby Steps

If you are new to boundary setting, starting slowly, with small steps, is okay.

Just try one boundary first. You will then learn how to do it (and how not to do it!).

Don’t be hard on yourself if it fails at first. Talking about your needs feels foreign to many people. And others may not be used to hearing or dealing with it either.

If my wife yells at me, What About HER Boundaries?

Now, we remind you at this point that even if she is yelling at you, your wife is entitled (like anyone else) to her own boundaries. They may be in conflict with yours, and that’s why it’s crucial to communicate first.

In some cases, ‘yelling’ by anyone can certainly suggest a pattern of abuse.

If you have tried to discuss the matter and still feel violated, you may need to increase your boundaries ‘strictness.’

This does not mean being strict or controlling of others – it means being tough on what you will accept.

Protect yourself and make a safe space where your feelings, needs and health are respected. It may mean preparing to make hard choices for some people too.

The ‘Problem’ with Boundaries

my wife yells at me

If you try to set a boundary with an unreasonable person, or someone who has difficulty in other areas of their self-awareness, boundaries may be painful – at first.

Initially, your wife may not respond well, perhaps testing your new boundaries. She may not recognise the person standing in front of her.

A reasonable person will eventually reflect on their own behaviour. Or they will discuss with you their concerns, their own boundaries and how you might both move forward.

(If your boundaries are based on the control of another person, however, you are unlikely to enjoy a healthy relationship. The cracks will eventually appear).

Additionally, read our intriguing perspective on- Is Divorce a sign of failure?


Boundaries, at the end of the day, are about self-respect.

No one should put up with something against their wishes.

And if someone doesn’t like your boundaries, they can make their own. Of course, this is not so simple in a relationship where your lives are logistically entwined, like a marriage.

It takes work and compromise. But you don’t have to compromise to the point it affects your health or safety.

It’s about living with people respectfully, happily and safely. Or finding a new way to respect yourself. Surely we all want that?

For further assistance with boundaries, consult a professional – see our Support and Resources Guide (India) for counsellors, therapists and psychologists who can provide individual advice.

You can also Join our community to share your thoughts with a clique of like-minded people anonymously.

Sources & Further Reading-


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