What should you do when your spouse says hurtful things?
Your husband or wife is someone you love dearly, your best friend, but sometimes it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
When your spouse is saying hurtful things, what is your first reaction? We feel hurt.
There is a rush of angry, negative feelings, a vicious cycle of exchanging hurtful words back and forth or perhaps simply avoiding a conversation altogether. If that described you somehow, in shape or form, you’re not alone.
Civil Arguing is a normal part of a healthy relationship between married couples as both are trying to figure each other out progressively; however, failing to deal with these hurtful outbursts can damage trust, commitment, and intimacy and create a toxic marriage whole.
Today, we will discuss what to do when they say hurtful things.
How to React When Your Spouse Says Hurtful Things
Below are the steps to take when people say hurtful things to help mitigate the issue and achieve a positive solution!
First, Don’t React – Hold Your Response
When your wife or husband says hurtful things, a wave of emotions runs through your brain.
Have you accidentally said something in the heat of the moment?
We have a “flight or fight” response internally that wants us to act immediately in the heat of the moment. However, that’s the worst thing you could do!
It is normal to experience a wide variety of feelings/emotions as sometimes our spouse’s words can be downright cruel, but it is essential to remain calm, take a step back, and take a deep breath. Hold your response not to say something you’ll regret.
This calmness will allow you to effectively re-evaluate the situation in the following steps to understand and break down the words and their motivation fully.
Identify Hurtful Words
Harsh, negative words are a byproduct of a defense mechanism called projection, where one projects their feelings onto another, usually in a negative way. Typically, those on the receiving end when a partner says hurtful things are overwhelmed by the harsh words used and forget to identify the words their spouse says t them.
Identify the hurtful words and take note of them. By doing so, you will be more able to create the bigger picture of the conflict and understand the root behind them to have an honest conversation about it.
The important thing is that context adds depth to figuring out a solution down the road.
Find the Source of the Harsh Words
As a human being, your words indicate your emotions, and each emotion is rooted in a particular event or season that we may be in at this time. Saying kinds of hurtful things regularly comes from a deeper place.
For example, you got laid off at work.
- How’re you going to feel? Angry or upset.
- Lost a relative? Sad.
- A little hungry or tired? Irritable.
People tend to carry those emotions into other parts of life as they deal with the hurt.
A healthy way to find the source is to ask insightful questions to get at the root of the painful things they are experiencing. While you’re searching for what is that trigger, actively listen and show that you care about them.
You may get push back, but the most sensible thing is to make yourself available to help them process everything down the road, giving them enough room and time.
Once you have found the source, store it now and plan to talk later when emotions aren’t running high.
Talk About It When Cooler Heads Prevail
When cooler heads prevail, couples tend to be more willing to open up and express their emotions to one another, and by knowing the source of the conflict, you are more apt to have an honest conversation to unpackage those feelings.
Now, keep in mind that this doesn’t ensure that an argument won’t occur but decreases its likelihood. Those outbursts made in the past can still have reserves of anger and blame towards you or someone else.
On the positive side, adult relationships thrive on getting uncomfortable. So when one partner initiates a genuine conversation on a challenging topic like this, it can be the catalyst of change.
Come Up With a Plan
A toxic relationship is not a long-term relationship you want to stay in.
Many relationships fail because of a lack of communication, and some are afraid to commit to a word that scares most, change. But, unfortunately, you can’t fix a broken marriage if neither of you is willing to communicate.
Harsh words used habitually from one partner to the other are forms of verbal abuse and emotional abuse, which means having a plan of action is vital.
Talk about proactive steps of communicating effectively about how each other feels when things may not be firing on all cylinders or make a habit to talk about how feelings/emotions so that you can help each other deal and process things. Be sure to commit to a course of action that ensures both are heard and understood.
- Talk when calm
- Set action steps
- Share how you feel hurt when they use those words
- Use/implement the “Would you say this to a child, grandparent, or friend approach.”
- Consider professional counseling if necessary
When we stop communicating, bad things happen. This step is key to maintaining a healthy marriage. Talk it out, agree on the next steps forward, and commit to the process.
Don’t Take it Literally or Hold on To Words Next Time
Words affect the way we think and, therefore, act.
When your spouse says hurtful words, don’t take those words literally. Chances are your wife or husband isn’t a mean spouse. As alluded to before, verbal fights are perfectly normal.
While it may take emotional maturity, forget about the hurtful words and the feelings it conjures up. Remain poise and take a deep breath, identify them immediately, find the source, and when things are all calm, be intentional and genuine in addressing it and coming up with a game plan to solve it down the road.
Also, don’t forget to forgive. Forgiveness is moving on. The situation was minor, and your spouse didn’t mean it, and in that case, they deserve forgiveness.
Bonus: Ways to Increase Your Self Esteem
Your significant other shouldn’t use hurtful words, and you shouldn’t have to subject yourself to those words, but sometimes it happens, and it might be out of your control.
What is within the circle of your control is building up your confidence and self-esteem. Ideas to help you do this include:
Focus on the Positive things
It is far too easy to let the negative impact and frustrations consume you, and chances are most people do, but where has that gotten you? Nowhere. Tons of red flags in that approach. When we focus on the positive things, we get that positive energy back that builds us up. Remember, energy follows intention.
Adopt a Growth Mentality
Sounds cliché, right? On paper, yes, but in real life, no. When we expand our capacity to grow in all areas, especially in communication and relationship skill sets, we develop more belief and confidence in ourselves to truly get outside our comfort zones and become a better version of ourselves.
Get Around People Who Have Strong Self-Esteem and Confidence
The power of associations could not be as vital as they are now with where the world is these days. When we get around empowering people who have bold self-assurance of their style and manner, that rubs off on us, and we develop the same, building our self-respect and dignity to standing tall against life’s challenges.
Someone using harsh words towards you is not something you should be grateful for, but talking and discussing what you are thankful for gears your brain to look for the good in situations.
Practicing gratitude could also help the person and your marriage if you do this exercise together. For example, when you are in a fight, in an argument, you’re angry, or you want to blame someone – try to reflect and find gratitude.
At this moment, you shift your thinking to a positive outlook!
The Final Word
An old childhood rhyme says, “Sticks and stones may break your bones, but word will never hurt me.“
However, when your spouse says hurtful things, it is easy to resort to what we are hardwired to do, “fight or flight” however, what are the results of that thinking style?
Hurt in the form of damaged trust, commitment, and intimacy. This feeling is not a revelation. We all know the results, and they are always bad.
However, it doesn’t have to be that way.
When we approach this intentionally, intending to understand the context and directly address its cause and a pathway forward, we save relationships from falling apart. Sometimes it’s messy and uncomfortable, but the ones you live with mean more than a few when it comes down to it. They throw out negative words on a whim.
Genuine intentions always find a way to create priceless results, and applying that to the way we speak to our partner leaves nothing but good things to happen. And, most importantly, don’t wait to say sorry.
Sometimes people say things that can hurt our feelings. And, in a perfect world, we can quickly move forward from said hurtful things. But, in reality, we want to fight back when we receive something hurtful.
The best way to deal with such matters is to keep your cool and continue communicating with your spouse constantly in your married life.