Husband Says Mean Things When Angry: When Your Husband Hurts You With Words - How To Get Over Hurtful Words From Your Husband

Q: I've read that you are never supposed to bring up the past in a relationship, especially in an argument. But, sometimes it just feels like I have to bring it up with my husband. When is it OK to bring up the past?

A: Speaking in general, which is always risky, you should avoid bringing up the past in the middle of current conflicts. Words such as

"this is just like when you...,"


"do you remember what you said in 1977 about..."

do nothing to resolve a conflict or bring couples closer together. As a wife, you also have an almost unfair advantage over your husband in this area.

Again, speaking in general, most wives can recall the details of every argument that has ever occurred, including what was said, what was meant, what you were wearing and where you were standing. Most husbands have trouble remembering what they had for lunch yesterday.

At the same time, I think there are a few exceptions where it is acceptable to bring up the past, and is even necessary in a healthy relationship. I think it is most necessary when something from the past still hurts so much that you can't function well in the relationship in the present; and when things that happened in the past keep happening and are still going on. Let's take a look at these two exceptions and what to do about them.

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When the Past Still Hurts

If something from the past still hurts, you need to address it, just not in an argument. During a calm time, you can say something like,

"Can you help me with something I keep having trouble with?"

Most spouses will respond well to that request.

A useful example would be how something hurtful was said and it gets under your skin and stays there. It may be eating you up, but your husband is unaware of the lasting effects. So, once you have his attention, you lay out, in non-accusatory, gentle words, what is still hurting you.

Perhaps a more complete apology is necessary, or even a first apology. Sometimes we simply need to have someone understand just how much something hurt us. Other times, simply speaking it out loud allows it to fade off of our emotional radar.

Once you have had this talk and cleaned up the mess from the past, you can both agree that this is now in the past and has no power over either of you or the relationship.

When the Past is in the Present

This one is a little bit more difficult to handle and resolve.

When something that caused pain in the past continues in the present, you have to ask some difficult questions:

*Does your husband simply not get it?

*Does he not care or is he just plain selfish?

*Is this a personality trait or relationship pattern that is just too stubborn to change on your own?

Sometimes when the pain is not happening to you personally, it can be difficult to see the consequences of certain actions. In this case it can be helpful to calmly walk your husband through the specifics of how certain behaviors cause pain. Once the light comes on for him, you can both agree, commit and even covenant that these events are now things of the past, and you will both do whatever it takes to make sure they do not happen again.

A good example in this case would be how it feels when one person considers the feelings of her own parents over the feelings of her husband. Many times I have found that the wife does not realize the pain caused until it is calmly laid out in detail.

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Learn to Say, "I Love You!"

This seems be a given, but it is not said enough in today's marriages. You may indeed love your mate, but say it anyway. Say it every day. Say it several times a day. Don't be like the fellow who responded to his wife's query if he loved her by saying, "I told you I loved you when I married you. If I ever change my mind, I'll let you know." Don't do that.

Learn to Say, "Let's Talk!"

This is very essential. Communication is the key to any relationship. If you don't talk, you'll struggle to assure your spouse. People believe that if there is something in your heart, then it'll come out though your mouth. If you really care, say you do. Talk about things. Work out your differences. Talk. It is words backed up with our actions that bring the most security to someone else. One without the other just fosters doubt.

Learn to Say, "I Need You!"

Never say, "I don't need you." A marriage is about needing each other. It is about being greater than the sum of our parts. To not need your spouse is a problem. But more than simply needing each other learn to say it to each other.

My wife and I are part of a whole. I honestly don't know what I'd do without her. But feeling this way is not as important as telling her that I need her. There is great security that comes from knowing that you're needed, that you aren't superfluous.

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Learn To Say, "I Admire You."

Men have a need to be admired as one would admire a hero. Women need to be admired as one would admire beauty or something very precious. Maybe you haven't figured it out by now ladies, but your husband has an ego. He loves it when you stroke that ego. He loves to be thought of as capable, strong, the knight in shining armor if you will.

And women need their husbands to admire their beauty, personality, and general presence. Men like that too and women sometimes like to be admired for their capability as well. But in all cases, it is clear; we need our spouse to admire us.

Learn to Say, "Thank You!"

Everyone likes to know that their efforts were appreciated. When someone does something for you say, "Thank you." Don't take what your wife does or your husband does for granted. If the husband goes to work each day, don't just take that effort for granted. If your wife works, takes care of the kids, fixes meals, or whatever she does, don't take it for granted. Say, "Thank you."

Gratitude and appreciation go a long way to strengthen any marriage.

Learn to Say, "Please."

Saying "Please" shows respect. Everyone needs to feel a measure of respect. When someone asks instead of demands it, it shows respect for the individual as well as the individual's time and feelings. Respect is best shown through the words you say. They demonstrate recognition of the other person. Your spouse will be much more willing to help and do things for you if he or she feels respected by you.

Learn to Say, "I'm Sorry."

Every husband has hurt his wife. Every wife has hurt her husband. Learn to say, "I'm sorry." Not in a flippant, arrogant manner, but with sincerity and honesty. There are too few apologies in marriages. Mostly, when we mess up or hurt someone we don't apologize, we just pretend it didn't happen. But that sends the wrong message.

When you don't apologize, you indicate that you don't care. Trust me, that is not a message you want to send unless you want more conflict. Even if you don't feel that you were in the wrong, apologizing for your part in the problem will go a long way. Learn to say these seven things to each other and they will help build your marriage.

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Couples don't fight about what they think they fight about. It's not "the big four" they identify in surveys: money, sex, raising the kids, or in-laws. Most couples fight because they inadvertently cause shame and fear in each other. As long as this unconscious fear-shame dynamic is active, talking about the issue is likely to make it worse.

There is a survival-based mechanism observed in most social animals, in which fear and anxiety of female members of the pack serve as an automatic alarm system to stimulate aggressive-protective behavior in the males. (The better sense of smell and hearing of females makes them more sensitive to danger and more suited to be social alarms.) When the females get scared, the stronger males form a defensive/aggressive perimeter around the endangered pack.

The human brain is more socially structured than that of any other animal. In us, this primitive interactive mechanism takes on more complicated forms that secretly undermine intimate relationships.

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Confronted with the anxiety or fear of a woman, a man typically responds with protection/support. But if he does not know how to protect/support or feels like a failure as a protector, he is likely to turn the aggression onto her (usually in the form of criticism, "superior reasoning," control, etc.) or rein it in by withdrawing in frustration (stonewalling or going quiet). Anger or withdrawal by men often stimulates anxiety or fear of isolation in women, even if his anger or withdrawal has nothing to do with her.

In general, a man is likely to stonewall, be critical, defensive, or contemptuous if he experiences or is trying to avoid the experience of failure as a provider, protector, or lover. A woman is likely to be critical, defensive, or contemptuous if she experiences (or is reminded of having experienced) fear of harm, isolation, or deprivation.

If the couple does not understand this unconscious, interactive dynamic, they will think they have a "communication" problem and will likely continue to provoke anxiety and shame in each other as they try to talk. They will begin to think that they have a bad, insensitive, or selfish partner, and eventually give up on the relationship without understanding the primitive emotional mechanism that did the real damage.

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Shopping with my wife, Sarah, and looking at footwear, the following conversation took place:

Me: What about these Ugg boots?
Sarah: Nah, they'd make your feet sweat.
Me: Oh yeah, you're so right. You know my feet.

She knew, somehow, that woollen lined boots would make my feet feel hot even in winter. She knew before I had realised it, but as she said what she said I had the immediate recognition that she was right. Amazingly, she knew me. Such comfort was ushered through me as I thankfully shopped with my wife. What Sarah didn't know was how much my soul was brimming and alive in her that day - as God shone his mighty revelation in me through this little and typically insignificant marital encounter.


Shopping tells us a lot about our marriages. Shopping is indicative and predictive of the amount we know about each other. As marriage partners there are venues and situations and avenues of knowledge that marriage reveals. And this is for confidence - that our partnering together isn't a waste. We invest so much of ourselves in marriage; it is just so nice to see the fruit ripen in accordance with God's promises.

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Marriage is wonderful in that we can so know our spouse as to know them instinctively. This is the oneness in marriage that we signed up for. It's "me into you and you into me," in such a way as to merge into the oneness of the other. We want to vanish into our partner and to become them in some ways - to lose nothing of our individuality, but to gain everything of them.

It is "your needs are my needs - and to know your needs fulfils my needs" and marriage is the unification of two souls who are made better and more functional as individuals.

And that is it. The best of marriage - the unification with the sanctifying of both individual such that they are made better individuals - is manifested in the knowledge of one in the other and vice versa; proof of oneness is knowledge and implicit acceptance of the other.

One of the great blessings of marriage is to know our spouse - to know them back to front with confidence, acceptance and safety. It is beautiful to be known so intimately and thereby be loved.

Marriage marries minds, hearts and souls in a fusion of devotion; one to another and reciprocated.

Saying or doing the wrong thing can actually cause your spouse to feel even more distant from you. You can make your spouse fall back in love with you, all over again.

You don't have to worry about whether your spouse is on the brink of asking you for a divorce. You can control the situation and use specific techniques to naturally make them fall hopelessly in love with you.

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