He loves you. He takes care of you and the family. He pays the bills. He gives you no reason to complain. But occasionally, he also makes fun of you. In jest of course! But fact remains your husband belittles you.
He doesn’t involve you in decision-making. Your world revolves around his. If all this sounds familiar, it means you are in a comfortable but deeply disrespected marriage.
You may not realise it but the above are classic ways in which even seemingly ‘good’ husbands make their wives feel small.
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Knowing what to do when your husband belittles you is very important if you are seeking an equal marriage, one in which you have a say, are respected and valued for the person you are.
What Is Belittling Behaviour In Relationships?
Belittling is the act of making someone feel unworthy. Here, it is essential to differentiate between being belittled by your husband and being abused by him. In literal terms, the word can be divided into two – be and little. Essentially it means, you are subtly shown your place and it is always secondary to him.
Often a husband belittles his wife, it is not taken seriously at least initially as they are not seen to be overtly abusive.
But gaslighting, making someone feel unimportant and inferior, poking fun, taking away their power are all signs of belittling behaviour that can eventually lead to emotional or verbal abuse.
Most importantly, it can slowly and steadily erode your self confidence. The unfortunate part is that it is very difficult to identify such behaviours because they rarely happen in public (though sometimes it does!).
Instead of big fights or yelling and screaming, husbands can resort to sarcastic or belittling comments, patronising statements, being unsupportive of what you do or say… these are all ways of belittling in a relationship.
The question therefore is, what do you do when your husband belittles you? First and foremost, understand that it’s not acceptable. And then take measures to put a halt to it. Here are some ways to do it.
What To Do When Your Husband Belittles You
Sometimes belittling comments are passed off as a joke and initially you might also treat it as a joke and laugh together.
But when the frequency of such comments increase and whenever you try to make a point, it is brushed aside or you are heavily criticised for not understanding the situation and coming up with a “dumb” solution you need to take some steps. Here’s what yo should do if your husband belittles you.
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1. Do not dismiss the comments
Recognise the signs that you are being slighted. Women are often trained to overlook mean comments and rude remarks that come their way.
‘My wife doesn’t know a thing, I trained her in cooking’. ‘You fail each time, why are you trying something new?’.
‘This dress would look great on you, only if you were slimmer’…. These are all prime belittling comments examples. Words have a way to hurt us way more than actions so pay attention to what your partner says and how he reacts.
Often, your spouse may think that he is being kind to you when he doesn’t allow you to take decisions or acts over-protective. In reality, he is clipping your wings. It gets reflected in his comments in private or public so watch out for them.
2. Don’t put up with it
If there is a pattern in your husband’s words, it is time to act. Nick Keomahayong, the founder of True Nature Counselling Centre, C.A, and host of YouTube channel Real Talk with Nick, asks a simple question in his video: ‘Why are you putting up with it?’
If you ever wondered why does someone belittle you, despite you doing everything to please him, know this: It’s because you allow him to.
Sometimes instead of lamenting, ‘My husband brings me down’, tell yourself, “I won’t allow my husband or anyone else to minimise my achievements.’
If he uses mean words, you can always get back with a calm ‘I don’t like to be spoken to like this’ or a ‘Don’t talk to me this way’.
Simple powerful things said at the right time can put an end to condescending behaviour (one of the main signs of belittling a person).
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4. Work on your self-esteem
As you would have probably understood by now, lack of self-esteem is a prime reason why a person – be it your husband or a colleague – can get away with saying nasty things to you or get away by ignoring you. At times, they bring up past failures to taunt you.
For instance, if you are nervous about a project you have been working for a long time, instead of giving you motivation, your husband might say, ‘You don’t have what it takes to make this a success. Are you sure you want to go ahead?’ It’s a belittling comment example.
He might feel he is warning you of potential failure but he doesn’t understand what it does to your self-esteem.
So don’t count on him for your self-worth. Putting an end to derisive or mildly abusive behaviour comes down to your own self-esteem and having a backbone.
5. Draw a personal boundary
Boundaries are important, even in a marriage. Keomahayong advises to shift the focus from your husband to yourself. “Instead of worrying about their behaviour, focus on yourself. You can stay in the relationship and confront the person or you can say no and leave,” he says.
Basically, there are different options but it’s all about you and how okay are you with this behaviour. You don’t have to be too touchy about everything he says but if there is a point when your ego is hurt, it means things are not quite right.
Drawing a boundary early on in the relationship is good so that you set the notions clear about what acceptable behaviour is and what is not.
When you husband constantly passes belittling comments, be aware of how it impacts you and your emotions.
6. Detach or learn to ignore
One way to deal with it is by learning to ignore the manipulative, condescending behaviour and detach yourself from the opinion of your husband.
It’s difficult, we agree but once you understand the reason behind their manipulative behaviour, it might make sense. Why does someone belittle you?
They do it to when they try to expand and elevate themselves. And the reason they do that is because they feel small. To cover up their own inadequacies, they need to put you down and make you insecure.
By remaining disengaged, you are taking away their power. When your husband resorts to belittling in a relationship, do not respond in kind; it will only add fuel to the fire.
Instead, try humorous comebacks. But use them only if you can pull them off!
7. Stay in control
When your husband belittles you, remember to not let him pull you into the negative world. Be in control of the narrative and think of a calm response. They might be just trying to provoke you so focus on your own emotion at the time.
But what do you do when your husband belittles you in public? That’s one of the worst ways in which men try to put their wives down.
Be careful not to show your anger or disappointment there and then. You can always voice it out in the privacy of your home.
Put them firmly in their place. Doesn’t mean you have to be aggressive. Be calm, stay focused but put them in their place. A belittler tries to rile you but if you show you are affected, they are tempted to behave even more badly. Sometimes silent treatment also has its benefits, reap that.
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8. Better yourself
Set your own goals, have your own vision. You really don’t need your husband to tell you whether you are worthy or not. You don’t need to be compared to anyone you know or don’t know. You are enough as a whole.
On the contrary, when your husband belittles you, it is he who is acting as if he needs the attention. When you get busy trying to be the best version of yourself, you really won’t have time to get affected by your partner’s efforts.
Ultimately the choice is yours whether you want to remain in a relationship or not. When belittling comments and behaviour becomes a constant and are impossible to ignore, think long and hard if it is worth staying in a relationship.
9. Accept the pain and talk it out
Sometimes, pretending that a shallow or belittling partner does not affect you, can be futile. It is better to accept the pain they cause you.
If their words were very hurtful, talk to someone you trust. Belittling comments can impact your psyche so seeking professional help is a good idea.
At other times, it would also be good to reflect on their words. Even if they are critical, maybe there is a point or two that might help you improve yourself. Once you only pay attention to the positive, you won’t have time to be sour about the negative.
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Of course, this does not mean that you accept belittling behaviour in any way. On the contrary, it means you need to call it out even more strongly. Equip yourself with strength and even your partner won’t be able to palm off his shortcomings on to you.
Belittling behaviour is very common at the workplace between colleagues or superiors. But in relationships, it is very tricky to negotiate it. Sometimes, this is so matter-of-fact that you even fail to notice that your husband or partner is trying to bring you down. More than a lack of love, it might be a sign of entitlement and hidden feelings of inadequacy that propels such behaviour. There are two keys to handle this – self-development and self-implosion. The choice is yours.