Better ways for the partner to react
To repair their problem, Sarah also needed to make some changes. She was asked to try and react differently the next time Jose became critical of her—just to see if it worked.
Sure enough, about three days later he apparently forgot some of the things I had taught him. He started his usual harangue about all her shortcomings. This time, however, Sarah was ready for him. She dropped her natural inclination to defend herself and justify the house messiness. Instead, she acknowledged her own frustration with trying to keep up with everything.
Sarah then went on to tell Jose that he must be disappointed coming home to a messy house when he worked so hard for the family. She agreed that indeed he deserved a clean house. She explained that she deserved the same things. Pouring a glass of wine, she invited him to sit down so they could discuss how to fix the problem and stop fighting because she just couldn’t do it anymore.
He was immediately disarmed and lost his anger. His brain went from challenging mode to problem-solving mode.
More on this subject: Anger Class 101 – Silence is Golden