5 things your wife wants you to do when she is ugly crying

Posted May 23

Hello. My name is Livi, and I am an ugly crier. A Hallmark commercial, a sad article on Facebook about an elderly person or child, a movie where a character overcame difficult odds; it doesn't take much for me to start “cry-heaving.” It's not pretty. At this point in my life, I've decided to give up the dream of not being too emotional and just start leaning into it.

My husband and I recently watched the movie “Brooklyn” at home. The film is about an Irish immigrant who goes to the United States during the 1950's and the challenges she experiences. In one scene, the Irish community in Brooklyn provides a Christmas meal to many of the old, homeless Irish men who have immigrated to the United States only to find themselves out of work. The tired lines of sad looking men shuffle into the church hall and receive warm food and happy faces from the volunteers. As someone who had Irish ancestors also leave their country in search of a better life, I was extremely touched by this scene. Cue: me bawling and ugly crying. It was not cute.

Luckily, I have an understanding and patient husband who’s pretty used to this type of reaction by now. As I sat there, unable to stop the tears running down my face like a baby, my husband simply said: “Are you doing ok? Just feeling lots of feelings? That’s ok.”

Coming from the grand champ of ugly criers, here is some advice on how to deal with upset feelings if you are married to someone who happens to be an ugly-crier:

1. Listen

Often, when ugly crying happens, whether the ugly cry is about a serious problem in life, or over something silly like a nice thank you card, your wife most likely wants you to simply listen understandingly. She doesn’t want you to fix it right now; she just needs to feel some feelings, feel heard and get through the cry.

2. Don’t freak out

After 7 years my poor, angelic husband has seen a lot of ugly crying (bless his heart). He gets that now, at least most of time, I’ve just got to get the crying out of my system and then I’ll feel better. He’s gotten so good at waiting patiently and listening with an arm around my shoulder that he could write a self-help book entitled, “Living With An Ugly Crier: How to Survive.” He knows from experience that whether the problem is actually serious or only trifling, it is better solved if I am able to get the cry over and express my worries.

3. Affirm

Before you can move on from the problem, make sure you give your wife validation and affirm her feelings. Even if you think she is being over-anxious or spiraling, affirm that you understand why she would feel upset. My husband is very good in that when we solve problems; he will simply take my hands and first walk through all the things that he agrees with. For us, most of the time, the issues I’m anxious about are real and are things that need to be solved. Because my husband is patient with my worries and emotions, we are able to work through our problems together and dismantle what the real issues are and what we may be blowing out of proportion.

4. Be the balance

My husband is also really good about walking me through ugly crying situations when there actually is a problem that needs to be solved.

There is a scene in an episode of the popular mockumentary “The Office” where two characters quit their day jobs to start their own risky company, and it’s not going very well. When one character, Michael, starts to give up hope and emotionally spiral out of control, the other character Pam says, “I have doubts about this too. But when one person freaks out, sometimes it weirdly makes the other one calmer. That's one thing I've learned about relationships.” Later in the episode, the tables turn when Pam gets upset and Michael is then calm and provides the voice of reason for Pam.

I feel like emotional spouse relationships are similar to this. We all have areas of life that stress us out more than our spouse- and that is what is great! We can balance each other out by taking advantage of the times we feel calm to help our spouse.

5. Be nice

Whether I am crying over all the porcelain Easter decorations I dropped all over the garage floor and destroyed or about a serious concern in our lives, my husband knows above all, just to be nice to me. Withhold judgment from the ugly crier in your family and try to see the benefits you receive from them being such a wonderfully sensitive person! After all, non-callous, empathetic people are hard to find these days, right?

Livi Whitaker is a freelance writer and has contributed to publications such as Deseret News,, Family Share,, Family Search and more in news, print and as a columnist since 2010. Find her online at


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