You recognize the signs -- the scowl, the sharp movements, the clipped way she says "nothing" when you ask what's wrong. You know she's in a bad mood. You just don't know why or what to do about it. Here's how to deal.

Assess the situation
First, figure out what kind of mood monster you're dealing with. Ask questions -- "Did something happen at work?" or "Did I do something?" If she still resists, she's waiting for you to follow up. Ask, "Are you sure? You seem upset."

Offer sympathy
When she finally says what's got her so sulky, it's now your job to be her biggest cheerleader. She wants your sympathy and support-not a solution, even if it seems simple to you. You're only trying to help, we know, but what she needs now is to just vent. So validate her emotions (yes, even the totally insane ones) with statements like, "Tell me what happened," "Oh, that's too bad," and "That sucks. No wonder you're upset."

Fix it if it's your fault
When should you try to solve her problem? When the problem is you. If you did something wrong, apologize immediately and sincerely. Remember that apologizing is not the same as taking blame or backing down. For example, consider the difference between "I'm sorry I bought a motorcycle without talking to you about it first" and "I will return the motorcycle."

Give her space (if she wants it)
Despite your sweet and sensitive nature, she may still need some space. Give it to her. If she wants some alone time, feel free to take off, but let her know she's still on your mind. Tell her you'll call to check in later and then actually do it. She wants to be alone, not abandoned.

Be there (when she wants you to)
If she's down or deflated, she may prefer you stick around. If she's just a little blue-maybe she gained a little weight or had a rough day at work- try to engage her in an activity or different conversation. You want her to stop dwelling on it before you get stuck spending the night listing all the ways her life sucks right now. If she's having a more emotional meltdown, you'll need to be more comforting. Be affectionate, without being sexual.

Make her laugh
"Laugher is the shortest distance between two people," says Enda Junkins, author of Belly Laugher in Relationships. "Couples tend to withdraw from each other when they're in a bad mood; a sense of humor counters that by offering a change in perspective and by showing you that things aren't that terrible. Plus, laughter releases endorphins, chemicals that elevate your mood, so it's impossible to feel down when you're laughing."


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