How to Tell Your Husband He Hurt Your Feelings
When your husband is harsh, thoughtless or downright mean, of course you want him to stop. If you’re anything like I was, you want him to feel embarrassed or ashamed so he won’t do that again!
And since he promised to love you in front of God and everybody, it stands to reason that letting him know how much he hurt you should be very persuasive in getting him to be gentler, kinder and more thoughtful.
But if you’ve ever had the experience of your husband looking through you or not even listening when you’re telling him how hurt you are or just telling you to stop being upset, it’s so frustrating! You can end up feeling even more hurt than you were to begin with.
1. What I Think I Want When I’m Hurt
When I’m hurt, sometimes it shows up as anger, which feels safer than hurt.
And when I’m angry at someone, I want them to suffer. I’m not proud of that, but as a mere mortal woman, I notice an enormous temptation to punish the person who hurt me. The illusion is that I’m justified and will feel better when they’re paying the consequences then they’ll then see that they need to apologize to me, which feels entirely necessary for the world to be put right again.
But in reality, I can’t make anyone else suffer, much less apologize. I’ve tried many times and it just didn’t work!
And since them suffering, paying consequences and apologizing to me are not even on my paper, the whole idea that I need those things is a counterfeit.
2. What I Really Want when I’m Hurt
On my paper, when I’ve just been hurt, I like to acknowledge that to myself and to anyone who’s listening. So when I’m on my game, I show up for myself the way a mother tends to a child with a skinned knee.
And strangely enough, just acknowledging my hurt to myself and whoever’s listening goes a long way toward dissolving the illusion that someone else has to suffer or take the blame so I can feel better. I already feel better just staying with myself in a hurtful moment instead of rushing into battle with the perceived enemy and abandoning myself.
But what about teaching someone else how to treat you?
3. How to Get Your Husband to Be Your Protector
If you’re wondering what words to use to get your man to understand how hurt you are so he’ll become your protector instead of your antagonizer, here’s a secret that’s very effective.
The definition of a secret is that most people don’t know it. And most people definitely don’t know what I’m about to share with you about how to tell someone they hurt you and get the kind of response you really want.
By far the most effective way to say it and even inspire him to apologize to you for what he just said is to use a four-letter word.
Wait, not THAT kind of four-letter word! Of course it can be very tempting to curse when you’re hurt, to cover it with anger, to race to blame someone else. But no, the word I’m thinking of is not only very effective, it’s also appropriate in polite company, even if it doesn’t feel easy to say.
4. The Best Four-Letter Word to Use when You’re Hurt
The word to use when you’re hurt is “Ouch!”
I was once talking to a friend who accused me of being greedy, so I said, “Ouch!”
He responded, “Why are you calling me a jerk?” which caught me by surprise.
I said, “I didn’t. I just said, ‘Ouch!’”
And he said, “I don’t see anyone else around here, so you’re saying I hurt you.”
And I was able to say, “I just said ‘Ouch!’”
I felt so clean in that interaction because I stayed on my paper and didn’t blame him for what I was experiencing. So it was a nice bonus when he pretty quickly apologized to me for calling me greedy.
5. How to RSVP “Not Attending” when You’re Invited to an Argument
So let’s say your husband asks why the house is still a mess even though you were home all day. Instead of defending yourself by listing everything you’ve done or asking him when the last time he lifted a finger to help you was, you could just say “Ouch!”
It’s also a great way to RSVP “Not attending” to that argument.
But what if the fight is already off to a roaring start and he calls YOU a four-letter word that’s NOT so appropriate in polite company?
You could also call him horrible names, but the best, most dignified comeback I know of is “Ouch!”
There’s just one big problem. Saying “Ouch!” can make you feel really, really awkward. So awkward that you’d rather defend yourself or tell him what a jerk he’s being. That’s because saying “Ouch!” is vulnerable. Now you’re completely undefended in front of the enemy, also known as the man you married.
6. Remind Your Husband to Be His Best Self
Being that vulnerable takes courage, but it also has magical powers because when you say “Ouch!” to your husband, you’re invoking a sacred trust. You’re actually demonstrating that you trust him to be tender with you even though he’s just been rough with you. It’s like you’re speaking into him that you know him to be thoughtful. You know him to be gentle. It’s like saying “Remember who you are!”
You might be thinking, “But thoughtful and gentle are NOT who my husband is. Therefore, ‘Ouch!’ is not going to work for me.”
But I’ve noticed that my expectations of my husband have a big influence on my experience with him.
My husband doesn’t want to let me down by proving me wrong when I’m expecting the best from him. Putting down my sword and showing my vulnerability by saying “Ouch!” show in a powerful way that I expect the best.
It reminds me of wedding vows I heard about where the couple promised, not that they’d never hurt each other, but that they’d never intentionally hurt each other.
That doesn’t mean “Ouch!” is my go-to phrase in every hurtful situation. It’s a great response when you’re hearing hurtful words, but what about a situation where you’re hurt about something he’s NOT doing?
7. What if It Wasn’t Just His Words that Hurt You?
Like, let’s say he completely forgets your anniversary or birthday and you don’t get to feel special. Or he doesn’t come home from work when he said he would and you’re overwhelmed putting the kids to bed by yourself. Or he isn’t being faithful like he promised he would when you got married and you’re left brokenhearted.
How do you let him know that he has hurt you in those painful situations that don’t boil down to a single moment in a conversation? What if there’s nowhere to insert an “Ouch!”
You may be tempted just to tell him straight out, “You hurt me!” And that’s always an option, to try to make him be accountable by blaming him.
But if what you want when you’re feeling injured is tender love and care, one powerful way to have that, in my experience, is to start by giving it to yourself. And I don’t mean just sucking up the miserable treatment, getting over it and resigning yourself to having more of the same in the future. No. I mean really being there for yourself, figuring out how to soothe and comfort yourself, no matter the circumstances.
I still get hurt, and I still say “Ouch!” if it happens during a conversation. But I’ve gotten to where I’m no longer interested in telling anyone they’ve hurt me. That’s because staying on my own paper when I’m hurt and giving myself comfort and grace instead of rushing to confront or blame has given me greater confidence and assurance than those imaginary apologies ever could.
Taking the vulnerable approach of saying “Ouch!” when I’m hurt has given me more inner strength.
If you decide to experiment with this secret to having your husband become your protector, you might just surprise him—and yourself—in the best possible way.
19 replies on “How to Tell Your Husband He Hurt Your Feelings”
Thanks for the reminder of these new responses to hurtful words! I have two of your books and am happy to report that when I tried “Ouch” twice, both times I got an unexpected apology. It took me forever to have the courage to be that vulnerable. But it was so worth it! My husband is not a jerk. Thanks Laura, for helping me rediscover that!
Wow, Kathleen, how courageous of you to express your hurt so vulnerably! I love that you got such unexpected responses. Receiving his apologies must have felt great. Congrats on changing the dance!
I love the word ouch. It’s simple but at first my husband responded with mocking me. I usually tell him that I’m not going to engage in this kind of conversation with anyone that I love. It helps. Now he’s much better.
I’ll be honest here. I’m still working on thinking differently. A part of me still thinks he’s a crazy person.
There are mornings when he wakes up on the wrong side of the bed. I can see it in his face that he’s just looking for a fight. I wish he would take up karate.
I used to be intimidated, but now I know that it’s a day that I am going to have a lot of self care and remove myself from that environment. It takes strength but it’s doable. Some days I just hop in the car to run errands, have coffee with a friend, or go to church. It’s not easy, but I feel better afterwards… and I believe that at those times my husband just needs to be alone.
Jenny, I admire your commitment to your marriage and to experimenting with the Intimacy Skills to change the old dance! I’m hearing lots of hope.
Ouch is a magical word. Since I started using it the arguments are non existent.
Thank you Laura for showing us how it’s done! 😉
Michelle, congrats on ending the arguments! That is amazing. You’re welcome, and I give you all the credit!
Laura, when you were saying how, when there’s no opportunity to “ouch” you just go and comfort yourself…to me that has really been a turning point in my relationship. When I took myself into hand instead of waiting for him to come and apologize to me the world turned brighter. I took a virtual trip down memory lane today and can see so, so clearly how pitiful I had been a few years ago before I had your skills and how using the first one, of making myself happy, had really been the missing ingredient in my life. He was always there, trying and willing to make me happy, but I felt too guilty and confused to let him and I messed my whole life up and then thought it was because of him. I have gone from darkness to light, Laura, thank you!!!
KD, you’re welcome! Wow, congrats on your transformation! I give you all the credit for brightening your world. This is so inspiring, you sound like a future coach to me!
Hi Laura! I love listening to all your podcasts & have your books etc. I really need to work on this idea of comforting myself. Can you give practical examples of what to do?
Thanks, TJ! I love that you’re exploring how to comfort yourself and reaching out for more support with that. There is loads of inspiration, including practical tips for this, at the 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge. Your timing is perfect because the pre-week just started today! You can register to join us for this free event at lauradoyle.org/challenge. I can’t wait to see you there!
Can i ask sincerely, do you end up feeling like your husband is unattractive because you have to tiptoe (maybe not the right word) around his fragile ego and be so careful about how you tell him that his metaphorical gut-punch actually hurt you? I feel even angrier that I have to strategize on top of being hurt just so this person won’t get offended by the fact of my calling out that he hurt me? How do you genuinely maintain respect for him or not end up feeling like the only sane person in the room?? It seems utterly exhausting. Are there no men of real strength or integrity left? Accountability? Do we have to use these secret words instead of just speaking plainly? I believe you’re right, by the way, I’m just feeling like the result won’t be worth it because I won’t respect him… 🙁
Vanessa, that does sound utterly exhausting! I would be angry having to tiptoe too. It must feel hopeless. I remember when this approach didn’t sound so empowering to me. Turns out there were some pieces that actually made it easy to respect my husband–and get hurt about 90% less often.
I would love to support you with how you too can express your hurt and still be able to respect your husband. Your timing is perfect because The 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge is just about to start! You can join us for FREE at lauradoyle.org/challenge. Hope to see you there!
I’ll be honest I forget to say ‘ouch’ when he hurts me. It is a skill I am focusing on, I’ve used it a couple of times and I know it works. I just need to be better at the skills when the time arises.
Jane, it’s so frustrating knowing how you want to show up then forgetting. You are not alone! I would love to support you with that so you can have your Skills ready when you need them. And it’s perfect timing because the 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge is just about to start! You can join us for FREE at lauradoyle.org/challenge. Hope to see you!
Laura, I recieved your email this morning and I must tell you it had to of been God speaking to you..to speak to me. Alot of hurt over the past 13 years. Alot of hurtful words that lead to volcanic explosions. I always wind up hurt for the wrong things he did against the marriage . I’know this was from God and I am gonna try my best with the Ouch and try to find myself again in the process. Prayers are appreciated. Thank you again 💓
Rebecca, that is beautiful. Ending up hurt again and again sounds so painful. I love your vision of finding yourself again in this process. I would love to support you with that! I invite you to join us for The 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge, which is about to start. You can register for FREE at lauradoyle.org/challenge. I hope to see you there, Rebecca.
Amen!! That would be a dream come true
Hi Laura, well today he was very mean verbally . I had enough of it. I said ouch and left the house. I have a hard time disengaging from him when he gets mean . I go full throttle with him, it makes me feel bad about it all. Learning everyday .
Cindi, I can see why you’d go full throttle when he gets mean! You shouldn’t have to hear such meanness. That’s not right. Good for you for taking a different tack. Still, it sounds hard to feel bad on top of being hurt. You’re not the only one who struggles to create the new habits you want to have! It’s so painful to know what to do and then….not do it!
That’s why my coaches and I have helped so many women fix their relationships and gain the habits that give them superpowers to have an amazing relationship. I’d love to give you the tools to turn this around. This is the perfect time too, as the 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge starts Monday! You can join us for FREE at lauradoyle.org/challenge. Hope to see you there!