Why does my spouse keep saying mean and mean things to me?

I often hear wives recount mean, nasty, negative things their husbands have said. Some examples are things like: “you’re so selfish” or “none of my friends’ wives make the demands you do” or “it’s sad I don’t even feel like coming home after work because I know you’re going to be there to start scolding”.

Needless to say, these comments are very hurtful. Many wives don’t understand why her husband would say these things other than the fact that he is a potentially mean and hateful person. It would be very easy to just make this assumption and believe that you have to live with it or try to ignore it. But I think if you do this, you’re really underestimating yourself. They both deserve more than that. And I think if she can understand why her husband keeps making these comments, she can potentially stop them. And that would make everyone happy.

Understand where feedback is coming from: There is an assumption that husbands who say hateful things do so because they enjoy it. I don’t think this is always true. I think they do it because they’re trying to initiate change or they’re acting on their own frustrations. Think about it for a second. We’ve all lashed out at someone we love dearly: our children, our parents, our siblings, and even our pets. When you did this by mistake, did you feel better in the long run? Sure, releasing your emotions might have felt good for a while. But in the long run, I’m willing to bet you felt guilty, horrible, regretful, and ashamed. People who lash out and say nasty things don’t enjoy it.

We lash out because we are overwhelmed with emotion in that unique moment and we want to feel better and we can’t control ourselves. And sometimes we attack because we are trying to initiate change. When we yell at our kids that they’re the only one who cares enough to pick up the mess for us, what we’re really saying is that we wish our kid would clean up the mess themselves once in a while because it’s exhausting being the the only person in the home who cleans and makes us feel undervalued and taken advantage of.

Starting: I think the first step in this process is to be honest about whether or not what your husband says has any validity. Because the answer to this question will help you determine how to deal with it.

So when your husband says something to the effect that he is afraid to go home because of his discomfort, you have to ask yourself if there is an ounce of truth to this. If so, her motivation is likely that she is trying to initiate change rather than trying to hurt you. Honestly, this is the easiest scenario of all because, in theory, changing the tone of your interactions at that moment would benefit both of you and stop the nasty comments.

Or if he says something like, “I don’t know why we got married,” that’s a statement that can be very easy to ignore because it makes you so angry. But, it could be his passive-aggressive way of telling you that there is something in your marriage that is making him (and probably you) unhappy.

It is true that not all problems will be easy to solve. But it is important that you try to fix it. Because if you don’t, both of you will continue to be frustrated. He will continue to say unpleasant things because he feels that you are not listening since there is no change. And you will still be hurt and angry. It is a vicious cycle that has no end, unless and until the core problem is addressed.

Learning not to compromise when it has nothing to do with you: The other type of scenario is one where you are simply blowing off steam at your expense. If he says something like “you’re so selfish” and your friends tell you that you’re the most selfless and giving person they know, then it’s more likely that he’s trying to get a reaction out of you for whatever reason. Maybe you had a bad day at work. Or maybe he’s angry about something else and this “selfish” insult is the first thing that popped into his head. Maybe he knows that he is the selfish one and is projecting. Sometimes we take our frustrations out on the person available at the time, however unfair that may be.

The way to respond to this without fueling the fire is to realize that you are not selfish and let it go. I know you may be scratching your head over this, but when someone just says meaningless bad things out of frustration, they’re looking to engage. They are looking to fight. They’re trying to blow off some steam, but they need a partner. Don’t make things worse by playing with this. Just mutter something like, “I’m sorry you feel this way,” and then walk away and do something else. Most of the time, this will take the wind out of your sails. And they will eventually learn that there is no point in trying to get you to participate because you don’t give them the reward. And they will take their evil elsewhere or learn more constructive ways to release their emotions.

I have come to believe that, most of the time, there is some sort of pattern to a husband who is in the habit of making negative comments. He often tries to get your attention because she wants some kind of change. Should he act like a mature adult and just say what he wants to say and stop talking in riddles? Absolutely, it should.

But very few of us do this. Especially when the topic may hurt someone or be misunderstood. I know it doesn’t always make sense. But in the end, they are trying to get a reaction out of you. Because in your opinion, they may have tried other ways to get your attention and failed. So now they go where they suspect you can’t help but pay attention.

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