I sometimes hear from wives who have recently been stung by something horribly hurtful that their husband has said. Sometimes, this happens during an argument or in the heat of the moment. Other times, their husband appears to be only attempting to be honest and not intending to hurt his wife. Still, whatever the case for the comments, they sting. And they can make the wife wonder about the future of her marriage.  If he has these hateful feelings toward her, how does he want to spend his life with her?

An example of the type of comment that you might hear is something like: "my husband and I have been fighting nonstop because of financial issues. Immediately after my husband lost his job, we held it together pretty well. But as time went on and we became increasingly unable to pay our bills, things have gotten more and more heated between us. It seems that all we do is fight anymore. The other night, we were fighting and I got fed up. I told my husband that we needed to band together and remember what drew us together. I told him that we had a lot going for us. I said that he was a quality person and an all-around nice guy and that his being unemployed didn't define who he was. I then said there must be something that he could remember that first drew him to me. And, do you know what his response was? He said 'I can't think of anything that I like about you. Not a single thing.' At first, I thought that I wasn't hearing him right or that he misspoke. So he clarified and said that although he's sure that I have redeeming qualities, they don't register for him anymore because all he notices is my nagging, and my criticism, and my nasty comments. This hurts a lot. I will admit that I have said things to him recently that I wish that I could take back. But, no matter how mad I get at him, I always know in my heart that he is a good man. I never think that he isn't a good person. But he is now giving me the impression that this is how he feels about me. I almost suspect he hates me.  Where does this leave our marriage? How much longer can I expect for him to stay with someone who he doesn't even like?"

Although Hateful Phrases Are Often Said In Anger, It's Important To Pay Attention: I know that this comment must have hurt. And I would never tell you not to pay attention to something that your spouse says in the heat of the moment. Sometimes, even hurtful words have a kernel of truth in them. Still, when your spouse is mad at you, he is going to word his phrasing as forcefully as he possibly can. He likely knows exactly what is going to hurt you the most and he might be going for a high impact remark. This doesn't mean that he doesn't have a legitimate issue that is bothering him. And this does warrant your attention. I sort of ignored my husband when he made these types of hurtful comments and told myself he was only blowing off steam. This turned out to be very costly because things escalated to the point where we separated. You can read that story by clicking here.)

So obviously, I should have paid attention. With that said, I doubt very much that there is absolutely nothing that your husband likes about you. That sort of phrase goes against all logic. Would he really marry a woman who had no remarkable or worthy qualities? I very much doubt that. Who would sentence themselves to a life of unhappiness with someone who isn't a worthwhile person? Who would marry someone they detest?

His Words Are Likely Inspired By His Frustrations: I think it's a safer bet that this husband was trying to communicate that it bothered and hurt him when his wife made comments that made him feel guilty or worse about his job loss. In his own mistaken way, he was likely trying to get her attention and give her a misguided plea to stop making him feel worse than he already did. (Note: Sometimes depressed husbands PERCEIVE their wives to be critical when they've been anything but. To be fair, the wife likely didn't even know that her comments were that damaging to her husband. This might have been the first time that he mentioned it and he may have been letting it build and build until it blew up.  And she had already said that she regretted her previous comments. But now the damage was done.)

Find The True Message Beneath The Words: So how do you handle this? You look at the general message underneath the words. And the general message is that this is a husband who is struggling to feel good about himself and about his situation. For whatever reason (and whether it is fair, accurate, or valid) he feels that his wife was being a little more critical than supportive. So you might ask yourself if there is any validity in the underlying message. Because there is certainly not any validity in the assertion that he doesn't like anything about you. He likely doesn't like much about his current situation. And he likely doesn't like what this job loss has done to your marriage. But I find it unlikely that he doesn't like you. He might just wish that it was easier for him to remember those wonderful qualities in either of you when things were better.

Conversation Suggestions: If you want to talk to him about this, you might say something like: "I really would like to think that you don't mean that. I know that you are upset and that we are both struggling. I will make a real effort to watch what I am saying and to make sure that I place my focus on positive support. Maybe then it will be easier for you to remember what you like about me. I'd like to think that when this happens, you will remember that I am your biggest fan and your most vigilant supporter. Yes, we have been worried about our financial situation, and this has stressed us both. But somewhere behind all of this, those two people who used to work so well together are still there. I have to think we could find them again if we worked together. I will try a little harder, will you? It hurts me to hear you say that you don't like me. I'm very clear on the fact that you countless wonderful qualities. I'd like to think that you could say the same for me."

I can't promise that he will suddenly be overcome with apologies, but I would suspect that this would clear the air and make things a little better. And I honestly have a hard time believing that many people would be married to someone who they don't like in any capacity.

I don't mean to diminish how you feel.  I know how much this hurts. But I also know that it's best to address it so that it doesn't escalate as was the case with me.  If it helps, you can read more on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com

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