Familiarity breeds contempt. This old maxim is perhaps most applicable in the realm of relationships and it is most evident on occasions when your spouse says hurtful things. When a man and woman live together, the initial days are, more often than not, happy and hunky-dory, blind as they are to each other’s faults in the first flush of love. The fights and the disagreements come in only later.
Maintaining the same bond or passion is impossible, let’s be practical. But what leads a marriage or a long-term relationship downhill is the hurtful words often used by one of the partners. ‘My spouse gets mad at everything I do’ is a common refrain from men and women after a fight.
Related Reading: 12 Hurtful Things You Or Your Partner Should Never Say To Each Other
On some occasions, especially if the incident is small, couples can get through their disagreements but when your husband hurts you with words that are mean, spiteful and intended to damage your self-respect, it is not too easy to recover from the blow. Once this becomes pattern, it turns into abuse. And abuse, as is well known, is not just physical and emotional, it can be verbal too.
When Your Husband Says Hurtful Things: Understanding Anger
Anger, not surprisingly, is one of the main reasons why one partner launches into a verbal attack over another. Before you analyse the whys and wherefores of bad behaviour, it is perhaps useful to understand what anger does to a marriage.
Say for example, he is in a foul mood over something you did or said. He comes home to the suburbs after a long day at work downtown, only to find the house in a mess and his things not in order. Tired, hungry and angry, a small exchange ensues with his wife which escalates as the minutes tick on.
Soon, it’s not the mess or the indiscipline that matters but things from the past that come into the picture leading it to be a full on diatribe with awful things said to one another.
After the storm is over, the first thought that crosses your wife’s shocked mind might be – ‘My husband said hurtful things I can’t get over; I can’t ever forgive him.’ She might play the hurtful words and lines over and over again in her mind, leading it to fester.
However, a little introspection might reveal some secrets. Often, the insults exchanged during a big fight means he was always thinking about it but it needed a conflict to have the guts to spell it out. Psychologists are still trying to figure out if the things said in anger are true or not.
Most research points out that expressing anger leads to deterioration in relationships. A Canadian study, for instance, pointed that expression of anger was directly co-related to sexual satisfaction in a marriage.
Needless to say, anger and the resulting words can impact your married life in more ways than one.
However, the opposite is also true. A research by Japanese researchers Shunsuke Uehara, Toru Tamura, Tomohiro Nakagawa said that non-expression of anger can lead to dissatisfaction. The key thing here is to remember that it is essential to explain your displeasure but in a way that does not leave your partner feeling hurt. Either ways, anger – and its many manifestations – can lead to big disasters and it becomes increasingly difficult to get over the hurtful words from your husband for a long time.
Related Reading: 6 Reasons Why You Should Quit A Toxic Marriage
When Your Partner Says Hurtful Things: How To React
Forgiving hurtful words is perhaps far more difficult than forgetting terrible actions. Different people react differently to things said by a mean spouse but the choice is entirely yours – do you want to forgive, forget or move on? Or do you want to take it to another level?
There is frankly, no right or wrong answer in this. When you are angry with your spouse, the threshold might be low for some, high for others. Either way, it requires a certain amount of maturity to deal with it. If you want to resolve the issues and give your marriage and your loved one another chance, here are some steps you can adopt.
1. Hold your response
In a fight, your spouse, in a fit of emotion might say hurtful words he might even regret later on. It is difficult but the most sensible thing to do would be to hold your response for some time.
It is easy to fire back and say nasty things to get back at your angry partner but that will only add fuel to the situation. Keep quiet for a while until he lets his steam off.
2. Identify the hurtful words and phrases
Words and lines that are mostly directed at making you feel small and disrespected should be your red flags. When your spouse says ‘you are being ridiculous’, when you express a concern, he is being dismissive.
If he says, ‘Why don’t you be more like her’ or ‘I don’t care anymore’ or things to that effect, these are all signs that he has stopped loving you and wants to hurt you.
3. Find out the reason for his outbursts
Do not react immediately when your spouse hurts you with words that seem strange and coming from another place. Often the trigger can be something else. Is he blaming you for being careless with money? Perhaps he is going through some financial issues.
Did he accuse you of things you had never imagined? Maybe those are the qualities that he resents in you! Just assess why he is saying hurtful things when he knows the impact they have on you.
Related Reading: How Do I Stop Abusing My Wife?
4. Forgive and try to forget
Yes, it is definitely easier said than done. That is the reason we stated that the response to a situation when your husband says hurtful things depends entirely on your threshold. Unless a partner is abusive or constantly puts you down, an occasional fight should not lead to an extreme reaction from you.
Learn to forgive some of the hurtful words he may have said in a fit of rage. But make sure you tell him when he is calm about your feelings so that he doesn’t repeat it again.
5. Look back at the words when calm
The worst thing you can do when your spouse yells at you is to hit back at him in the same intensity. In a fight, at least one person should remain calm. Revisit the fight when things die down. It doesn’t mean you forgive easily (it’s difficult) but go through the words and the emotions behind them. Is there any justification in what he said?
Is he trying to get your attention by pointing your flaws? Has the foundation of love vanished? Answers to these questions will be key in your response.
6. Don’t ignore your feelings
The confusion regarding what to do when your husband says hurtful things is very understandable. Do you ignore the words and move on or should you confront and get it all out? First and foremost, learn to validate your feelings.
If his words have hurt you like never before, ACCEPT it. Go through every single emotion and physical reaction to those words. Get deeper into your emotions and deal with them. You need to know where you stand vis-à-vis him. Your feelings are as important.
7. Focus on the positive side
Look at your relationship during non-conflict days. Has he been caring, affectionate and loving? Were his words a one-off? How much do you value what you shared before the fight? You need to emphasise the love and the joy that the two of your shared.
If that aspect of your relationship is bigger and more important than the mere exchange of a few heated words, then perhaps it is worthwhile to forgive and move on.
Related Reading: 8 Ways To Make An Angry Wife Happy
8. Channelise your anger constructively
Do not suppress your anger or disappointment to get over the hurtful words from your husband’s end. Instead, take the positive, constructive approach.
Appreciate your emotions by writing them down. Talk to a friend or a therapist. Get in touch with your feelings. Get over your own rage with some physical activity and releasing your energy. Do some breathing exercise.
These may be simple tips but will help you control your own emotions.
9. Don’t take the words literally
Once again, it needs reiteration that words have the power to hurt or heal. But it is also essential that while dealing with the hurtful words of a partner, you should not get into the literal meaning of everything he or she may have said.
Sometimes, it is not about you but it’s their own frustration that makes them lash out. Of course, it doesn’t give them the right but try and be more empathetic to their situation instead of making it all about you. Of course, it depends on the situation and can’t be generalised.
10. Do not bring children or others into it
When you are reacting emotionally to verbal nastiness, you might be tempted to bring in your kids or parents or friends into the argument. Refrain. It will only lead to an escalation. If the fight is over one particular issue and it’s between the two of you, leave the rest out.
Focus only the words, the sentences and the emotions behind them. Do not bring a third party and complicate matters. This way, it will be easier to resolve matters – if you want it.
Getting over hurtful words, spoken deliberately or otherwise requires a lot of patience and self-assuredness. You need to be confident in your own skin to understand that it’s not always about you but it’s about him. Get ready to make new beginnings and work towards a healthier and happier marriage – one where you don’t have to ask that question again – why does my husband say things to hurt me?
You need to respond cautiously. Do not overreact. Hold off on giving it back in the same coin despite the temptation. Do not bring your kids into the argument if you do decide to reply. Watch your words carefully during the argument.
You need to focus on the positive side. Give vent to your frustrations creatively. You can talk to a counselor or therapist or a good friend. Analyse his words and their impact on you – which part did you get most hurt by and which part are you willing to overlook. Talk to him and let him know how his words hurt you, when he is in a calm mood.
Perhaps it’s because he is hurting himself. He may resent some of the things you do and it comes forth in hurtful words during a fight. He wants your attention so he is doing this or he might he just mean.
Ideally no. But which situation or relationship is ideal? Ultimately we are all humans and husbands can lose their temper and say words that he should not. But it’s best to nip it in the bud or if unchecked, this temper can lead to yelling becoming a natural part of your marriage. Definitely not something that you should put up with!