It might also help DH if cattlekid's reaction became full of "i'm sad!!" instead of "I'm mad!!"
Right now it seems as if the whole thing is being framed by the idea of "they messed with my stuff" and "they are awful," instead of "I'm so incredibly sad."
Sad is easy to empathize with. Mad makes people uncomfortable.
I don't mesh well with DH's oldest sister. We went over to their house last night for dinner and I was so stressed out that I had an anxiety episode and actually threw up from the stress. DH has never seen this reaction from me. He sees me suck it up, go spend time, and hears me seethe and vent in the car on the way home.
I have lots of emotions about the time spent with/around SIL, but all he saw was me being mad. From his POV I was being childish and sniping at his sister after what he thought was a perfectly lovely evening.
Last night we were driving home and started arguing about going back over in 2 weeks. Due to the nature of the event, I'm not comfortable going. DH thought I was pitching a fit because I just don't like SIL. We fought some more and went to bed angry.
This afternoon we met DH for lunch and I told him everything. Me being mad just got him defensive and made him angry that I "just hate his whole family!" Me being sad got him saying "you're being oversensitive/she didn't mean it that way." Me being stressed out/depressed really hit him hard. And we're not going over for that particular event.
So, I was
feeling all those feelings, but the way I expressed myself, and which emotion I focused on led to a reaction from DH ranging from anger to indifference, to finally understanding.