What to do when your wife cries quite oftenPublished 9:50am Friday, June 13, 2014
Things I Tell My Wife by Matthew Knutson
“I’ll let you pick the next movie,” I told my wife as she sat next to me sobbing. Our first time at the movie theater in months resulted in me holding her as she cried for several minutes while the credits rolled for “The Fault in Our Stars.”
The young adult novel turned box office hit has had people across the nation reaching for tissues, but I didn’t anticipate it to emotionally impact Sera quite so much.
This is far from the first time she’s cried since we’ve been together. If I were counting, I don’t think I’d publicly print how many times she has cried in our first 10 married months due to the unrealistically high number. Before you think we’re having marital problems, very few (if any) have been because of my inadequacies as a husband. I’ve simply learned that sometimes people, particularly my wonderful wife, cry a lot.
My wife wasn’t the only one helplessly tearing up. The crying in our theater was so audible at times that I wondered if the film’s creators had subtly added in an audio track of people sobbing to pull out the tears of those wobbling on the edge. I made it through “The Fault in Our Stars” without shedding a tear, but I also haven’t felt teary-eyed during a movie since I saw the stampede take down Mufasa in “The Lion King” for the first time. Clearly some people cry and some people don’t. Sera is a crier.
The other day she did her hair in a new way, something about using a sock to make it different but the same. I’m not entirely sure exactly what she did. When I commented on her hair being different, she cried because I noticed. Every once in a while when I wake her up to say good morning before I go to work, she tears up a bit because I’m leaving her. I guarantee there’d be tears if I went to the store right now and bought her a single flower.
Like many husbands, I’ve had to adapt to living with a crier both in times of happiness and sadness. In all honesty, before I was dating Sera, I assumed most girls who cried all the time were dating losers. Looking back, that was a clear misjudgment. I guess sometimes a person just has to cry. Because some husbands might not be great at handling their spouse’s tears, here are my tips for helping my wife when she’s all choked up.
1. Identify the cause of the tears without belittling their necessity. It’s hard to be there for someone if you don’t know why they are crying, and your spouse wouldn’t be crying if some part of her didn’t think it was an appropriate response. Sometimes my wife literally won’t know why she’s crying, which makes this first step a little hard. I always assume I’m going to be a father when Sera cries without having a reason, but so far, that hasn’t been the case. At the beginning of our relationship, I’d assume she was crying because I had done something to hurt her feelings, which is very rarely the case. Lesson learned: Don’t jump to conclusions.
2. Reassure the crier that everything is OK, or it will be someday. Some people like to dwell in the sadness that comes with their tears, but I’ve always felt like lingering in sorrow only leads to more sadness. Sera genuinely appreciates my practical demeanor most of the time, and it can usually pull her out of her funk quite quickly.
3. Do something that will make your wife stop crying. I’m all for a distraction, but only if Sera’s tears aren’t because of something I’ve done. Sometimes I’ll sing a song ridiculously out of tune. Maybe I’ll turn a comforting hug into a tickle fight. She usually smiles when I try to speak in a Kenyan accent and it comes out Indian. Even if Sera is crying because she’s happy, she welcomes these distractions because she normally feels embarrassed she can’t keep her eyes from welling up.
Through her tears, Sera swore off ever seeing “The Fault in Our Stars” again.
“Why would you take me to such a bad movie?” she cried.
In reality, it was a pretty solid movie adaptation of a pretty decent book. She just didn’t enjoy the raw emotion that accompanied it. Not needing another reason to cry, we’ll likely be avoiding the cinema for a few weeks until we see a preview for the inevitable feel-good movie of the summer.
Maybe it’ll even make Sera laugh so hard she cries. I think I’ll pack the tissues no matter what.
Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.