Q: My husband is always hurting my feelings with careless and cutting remarks. He says he’s only teasing or tells me I’m too sensitive, but it’s no joke to me. How can I get him to stop?
A: The scenario you’ve described, though very common, can have many causes. Communication is a complex thing and is influenced by underlying emotions and learned behaviours.
For many men, much of their lives have been spent trading jabs and poking fun at other guys. It’s often how they bond with each other. Unfortunately, we have to learn the hard way that it doesn’t always have the same effect with the opposite sex.
It may also suggest that he’s not comfortable having a serious conversation with you. This behaviour is sometimes passed down through families who have a hard time expressing their feelings or dealing with difficult issues. The old a proverb, “Many a truth is spoken in jest,” may also apply here. Often a person may be upset with their spouse, but the only way they feel safe in expressing this is through hurtful humour.
Or it could be a problem of sensitivity – either his lack of, or possibly your overactive sense. Both are obstacles to emotional intimacy and should be evaluated honestly. We’d start by looking at your relationships with mutual acquaintances other than your respective families. Does your husband routinely offend them? Do they see him as self-centred and unfeeling? Are you frequently hurt by others? Are you critical and struggle with low self-esteem?
The goal here isn’t to assign blame, but to gain an understanding of each other, which is the first step toward resolution. Since this typically works best with the help of a caring counsellor, we’d encourage you to contact our Family Support Services at 03-7954 7920 or write to firstname.lastname@example.org for a referral to a marriage therapist in your area. We’re here and happy to help.
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