Verbally Abusive Men and How to Make Them Stop

The Real Reason Your Man is Verbally Abusive and How to Make Him Stop

Is your husband or boyfriend incredibly cruel at times? Does he swear, yell and call you names? Does it undermine your self-esteem?

If so, then you may be verbally abused.

But I’ve made an interesting discovery about verbal abuse. Only women suffer from it—not men. Wrapped inside that mystery is a profound key to making your house safer and more peaceful, which I’ll explain step-by-step in this blog.

I’m not saying that women are never verbally abusive. I’m not proud to admit that I’ve said horrible things to my husband with the intent to lay him low. Maybe don’t tell anyone, okay? What I’m saying is that women tend to identify as suffering verbal abuse while men rarely use that term.

For example, even though I raged at my husband for years, he would have said I was in a bad mood or that we had a fight, but never that I was verbally abusive. I was surprised to learn that this is true pretty much across the board with men. I’ve asked hundreds of men and none of them cop to being verbally abused. They scrunch up their faces and say, “Naww, she’s just being mean.”

Interesting, right? Either verbal abuse is mostly perpetrated by men, or else men just don’t see themselves as being abused.

What’s the explanation? Do our harsh words land less painfully on their thick skins? Or could it be that what we experience as “verbal abuse” could also be described as hurtful things said during garden-variety fights?

Either way, verbal abuse feels unsafe and scary.

Of course in the middle of a fight, mud is flying every direction. Both of you end up bruised. Often, women come to me with a list of cruel things he said during a fight as evidence that her husband is verbally abusive. She forgets to mention that she was saying equally punishing things to him during that fight. She’s more aware of her own deep pain than of any she inflicted.

But what if there’s no fight, no warning and your husband’s harsh, hurtful words appear to be coming out of nowhere?

In my experience with both my own relationship and many thousands of women who have practiced the Six Intimacy Skills, the underlying reason for the verbal abuse was always because she contributed to a culture of verbal abuse by being disrespectful. The astonishingly speedy remedy was to restore the respect with an apology when appropriate.

To be very clear, I am not suggesting that you apologize to make-nice, but rather only if you review your own comments and actions and find you’ve said or done something that was disrespectful or critical. If you have absolutely nothing to clean up, then there’s nothing to apologize for.

But if there is something–even something that seems very minor, or justified or it was a response to his bad behavior, there’s magic in accountability.

My experience with thousands of clients who have endured devastating verbal abuse is that they were able to create a new culture—a safe, calm, peaceful culture without verbal abuse. They spoke to each other with more kindness and playfulness.

Here are the steps they used:

Step 1: Watch the Replay

When you watch the replay of your recent interactions with your husband, ask yourself if you were disrespectful. Maybe you rolled your eyes or contradicted him. Perhaps you told him he shouldn’t have sugary drinks or criticized his plan to invest in real estate, for example.

The hardest part about this step is that what women consider disrespectful and what men consider disrespectful are just not the same.

It took Sophie in Washington a long time to realize how much what she was saying was landing as disrespect for her husband. And since respect is like oxygen for men, she was doing a lot of damage without realizing it. That led to a lot of fights and hurtful, cruel words they said to each other––that is, until she applied Step 2 and got what seemed like a completely different husband.

Step 2: Restore the Respect with an Apology

Offer an apology for the specific behavior or words using the magic formula, “I apologize for being disrespectful when I…”

That probably sounds outrageously old-fashioned or just weird, if you’re anything like most women. I know, I know. I don’t like to say it either. It takes a lot of humility to admit that. But ending the cold-war and the verbal abuse in your home is well worth making the stretch. It certainly was for Sophie, who reported that the fights and “verbal abuse” not only vanished, her husband started coming home from work earlier to spend more time with her and made her laugh more, which she loved.

Step 3: Review Steps 1 & 2

Am I saying you’ll never fight again? It’s possible. Like Sophie and her husband, my husband and I have very little to fight about now that I’ve been implementing steps 1 & 2 for over 16 years.

We bickered in traffic about which way to go home recently. He was driving, so that was none of my business, but hey, I’m a mere mortal woman. But even then, neither of us said anything mean. It’s been that way for so long now that I can’t imagine it any other way.

Most of the time, my marriage is light and breezy—we play together and laugh, hold hands. We snuggle and share our dreams.

Women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills, including apologizing for being disrespectful, make verbal abuse vanish never to return.

If you’re thinking this will never work for you because your man is the problem, consider experimenting with eliminating verbal abuse in your relationship so the intimacy can thrive and grow between you. Emotional safety is essential to a deep connection, which really is all it’s cracked up to be.


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89 thoughts on “Verbally Abusive Men and How to Make Them Stop”

  1. I stumbled upon your blog during the darkest place I was at in my marriage. This one entry speaks volumes to me! My husband told me he felt bullied by me when I thought I was just asking him to take out the trash! I plan to use this advice because you are right: I lost respect for him in his eyes.
    Please take a look at my blog I share with my mom: http://www.nowwhatcarolinaduncan.com

    Reply
      • Ethel, I’m so sorry to hear about what you’ve been through! Sounds awful. Congratulations on finding the courage to get out. I know it’s not easy. Clearly you were not safe.

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    • This is ridiculous I’m a male and I’m in up verbal and physical abuse of relationship when the female is doing it in a disable relationship . And I have no problem calling it Abuse is physical emotional mental abuse and it can happen to men entered the say it doesn’t because we use other phrases is not correct. Maybe this is what’s the problem you are generalizing men. I’m a stay-at-home dad and I get told I’m worthless I’m a scab I’m a sponge I’m a loser that parents don’t do anything classic abuse. And if I was a female and had a vaginae it would be considered that but because I have a pene’us you’re saying it doesn’t..

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  2. Laura, thank you for your blog re: verbal abuse. What about the situation when my boyfriend yells when I am dealing with a problem, am stressed about it. He is no comfort, just puts down the way I handle it. Then I am shaky due to his yelling at me, and seem to foul up my problem. It hurts to think I can’t depend on him to even be kind at a time like that! He even says he gets impatient with the way I get things done inefficiently, not like him! I am learning to just be quiet about any problem I am dealing with. This doesn’t seem like intimacy to me!

    Reply
    • Helen, I hear you that it’s not fun to get yelled at for sure! Have you tried an “Ouch!” in those situations? You can teach him how to treat you.

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  3. So you are saying that women is the cause of men verbally abusing us? There were times like my miscarriage he tells me that he thinks I don’t want children while I’m
    Grieving? This is crazy!

    Reply
    • Ethel, that was a horrible thing of him to say! I am not saying that you caused him to say that. What I’m saying is that we often have a culture of verbal abuse that both people participate in, versus it being one-sided. Often we don’t even realize when we’ve been disrespectful, but it’s just as hurtful to them as the harsh words you’re describing. I’m sorry to hear about your miscarriage.

      Reply
      • That’s exactly what you were saying. You told women who are being verbally bused to apologize for being disrespectful. If the wives weren’t at fault why should they apologize?

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        • Karen, Actually, I suggest that we wives clean up our side of the street by apologizing when we have been disrespectful. I’m not suggesting apologizing for anything he did ever. The work is to look at our own words and take action to be more respectful. That’s where the magic is.

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          • So, do you instruct men to be polite and respectful to their wives, or, since they have penises do they get to scream at us and insult us and it’s totally okay?

  4. Did you seriously just advise women to apologize for being disrespectful as a way to stop verbal abuse? Clearly you have no real experience with actual verbal abuse and you should not be advising women with regards to how to stop it. What you describe is fighting dirty, not verbal abuse. If you want to teach people how to fight clean and keep it from escalating that’s fine but don’t use verbal abuse as a buzzword and claim you can stop it. That is not what you have done. Please rethink this post.

    Reply
    • Sarah, I’m not sure what the difference is between “fighting dirty” and verbal abuse.

      There are three types of guys you’re not safe with anyway, and they are typically verbal abusers. This doesn’t apply to them. That’s an important distinction.

      But if you have a good guy (not one of the three) who says mean things and yells out of nowhere, then you have a lot of power to create a different culture in the relationship–a peaceful, emotionally safe culture. I’ve seen it thousands of times with women all over the world.

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    • This is the worst advice I’ve ever read in my life. It’s funny that I just finished reading a book written by a narcissist on what to do/not to do. Apologizing when he has yelled at YOU is something he absolutely says DO NOT DO. This only results in the abuse getting worse and worse until it becomes physical because he can’t stand your weakness.

      Please do more research and see that what you’re suggesting is setting women up for not only more verbal abuse, but an escalation of it.

      Reply
      • Sheenawasaman, I can see that you feel strongly about this issue. To clarify, I don’t suggest that you apologize when he has yelled at you but rather to examine your own contribution to the conflict and if you have been inadvertently disrespectful to apologize for that. The point here is that when there was conflict in my marriage we both had a part in it. Focusing on what he was doing wrong never got me the results I wanted, but it was very empowering to look at my own side of the street and clean it up. That’s how I got my miracle.

        Reply
    • Kris, That’s okay. The point is more for you to be respectful and acknowledge it when you’re not. He might feel uncomfortable with it at first because it’s new, but that’s not in your control. Being respectful is.

      Reply
  5. You guys could not be any more correct in your approach, not only in husband wife issues but also with business partners or children, — you have different stents, we all make mistakes and don’t ever,ever critize

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  6. I will try the magic formula, whatever it takes to find peace. However, my spouse tells me I don’t listen, where as I feel he doesn’t. The other night he said sarcastically that he ‘d shoot himself in the head because why was even there, I don’t listen. I was disgusted at his horrifying sarcasm. And all because he was upset about having to come home to no dinner or something in the fridge for him. I had a late outing with the kids …once in a blue moon for me. I had done his laundry and left the house beautiful…but he had to find something to be mad at. Sure I’ll try to leave something in the fridge next time because I love him but there always seems to be something he finds to be mad at even after i try my hardest to please him. Are some men just never satisfied?

    Reply
    • Ana, I’m excited for you to try the magic formula! I think you’re going to see a big difference with your man. I’d love for you to get all six of the Intimacy Skills too. I think you’ll find he’ll seem like a completely different guy, and by different I mean better.

      Reply
  7. I should left him then because nearly 29 years later after 2 children I just found out he got reconnected with a woman he fell in love 21 years ago but afraid to tell her. Now he wants to leave me for her. The whole immediate family is happy for him. The daughters wedding is around the corner and got uninvited so I feel like a failure all round.

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  8. Ethel;

    If he hasn’t left you yet you still have the power within to change your perspective and start treating him like you did when you were dating. We often loose that part of ourselves when we have been in a relationship for a long time. Start trying to be his girlfriend and when he trusts that you have really changed he will come back around. It is amazing how much power you still have..Get in touch with that loving sexy side of you give him the safe non confrontational environment he can count on and come home to and he will change.. Good luck!

    Reply
  9. I wouldn’t say my husband is verbally abusive (he’s really awesome, actually), but this is a great reminder of how much power I as the woman have to set the culture in the home. This is a real challenge for me not because I don’t want to but because the home I grew up in did not have an emotionally safe culture, so providing emotional safety just isn’t something I’m really familiar with or used to. I’m the kind who will open my mouth and say something and have no idea why the person I was talking to suddenly went silent or distant. Like, did I just say something wrong? Reading about the intimacy skills has actually been really eye opening because I can now look back on such situations (not just with my husband, but also with friends) and know exactly what I said “wrong,” and I can avoid those traps for the future (as long as I can think about what I’m about to say rather than just say things out of habit).

    Have you thought about writing a book for middle school girls about how to be a good friend? I think a lot of those skills are applicable in friendships too (though there are differences in girl-girl vs. girl-boy friendships). I would love for nothing better than for my own daughters to learn these skills early (though I’m not yet ready to turn them loose on dating–they’re still children).

    Here’s another cool project idea: What about a movie about a woman who saves her marriage using the six intimacy skills? My husband and I watched the movie “Fireproof” about a year ago and liked it. What about taking that basic theme–a marriage in trouble and one spouse goes on a mission to save it–and make it about a wife doing it using the intimacy skills? You could have a whole series of movies with marriages ranging from on the brink of divorce to generally fine but kind of blah. You can make them real tear jerkers because they’re for women, right? Having a girls’ movie night with a film like that would be a great way to get some discussion going and maybe inspire positive changes. Anyway, I would be all over that, and my kids would probably enjoy acting in the movies 😉

    Reply
    • Fernanda, glad you’re feeling empowered in your relationship and that you have such a great guy! That’s awesome.

      Thanks for the suggestions about the book for girls and the Fireproof type movie. I’ve had quite a few people suggest that recently! Also, a documentary film crew is in pre-production for something along the lines of what you describe. I’m excited! It will be great to have another way to show women the power they have when they use Intimacy Skills in their relationship. I’ll keep you posted and let your daughters know if there’s a casting call 🙂

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  10. My biggest struggle in following the 6 Intimacy Skills is letting go of the resentment that has built up over the years due to the hurtful things that he has said and done. I know I’ve been very disrespectful in the past without knowing it, but it’s so hard for me to forget what has been said and done. It’s also hard for me to be successful following it for more than a day or to because I don’t see immediate results. I’ve started this new way of things, but he continues to be hurtful. I think Laura’s advice is amazing and different in a good way. I think it can save my marriage. The only thing in the way is my pain and my lack of patience. :/

    Reply
    • Linsey, congratulations on having the courage to try the Intimacy Skills! I know it means you’re choosing your faith instead of your fear, and I admire that. I also think it’s pretty tough to learn Intimacy Skills on your own. I had support from the beginning myself, and I want the same thing for you. Maybe you can join us at the retreat? Or else you can apply for a complimentary discovery call here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      Reply
  11. Its also very hard not to defend yourself if he’s yelling and swearing for no reason at all but because he’s stressed from work.

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    • Linsey, it really is very hard! But it’s also gratifying when you do and you realize that your side of the street is clean–nothing to apologize for. And it means the only voice ringing in his head is his own conscience. I’m not saying it’s easy, but I am saying it’s worth it.

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  12. Greetings Laura… Thank you once again.
    My husband (if that’s what one can call him at this point) is so blatantly disrespectful I just can not the responsibility for his behavior.
    If he feels disrespected he has issues. Stemming before me .. From childhood maybe. I may trigger that for him but I just dont think I can fix this.

    Reply
    • Rehema, You definitely sound hurt, so it must be very rough what you’re enduring! I’m sorry to hear. I get that it doesn’t feel like you have the power to influence the culture at your house, but I’m wondering if you might be willing to experiment for a bit and just see what happens? What could it hurt? Have you read The Empowered Wife? If you’re anything like me, you may have gotten the wrong information and it makes things worse. Having the Intimacy Skills rocked my world and continues to make my relationship great 17 years later.

      Reply
  13. Hi Laura,
    Your books are AMAZING! I loved the surrendered wife and am in middle of The Empowered Wife. Ive really seen a transformation in my marriage so thank you!!!
    My problem is that my husband has no interest in spending time with my kids. He loves spending time with me but finds the kids overwhelming and unejoyable to be around:( He uses work as an escape and my kids really resent his lack of presence. Do you have any suggestions?
    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Jen, Congrats on your transformation in your marriage! That’s fantastic!

      On the issue with the kids, what is your desire? How about expressing it to your husband in a way that inspires him?

      Also, you could “borrow his brain” about how to have family time with the kids be more enjoyable for everyone.

      Here’s another thought: Come to the retreat and leave him with the kids for three days and come back with some great skills for making your whole family happier!

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  14. Hi, i fit all the 3 criteria that i’m wrecking my marriage which led to my husband having an affair. Eventhough he said that they already break up but my husband still contact her ex girlfriend. He said he still loves me, and he treats me and the kids kindly. however his action hurts me badly. how to become a surrendered wife when i am badly hurt. Do i need to force him to stop or just let he stop on his own. will he leave that girl if i become a surrendered wife?

    Reply
    • Emma, that sounds so painful! I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. To answer your question, I have seen many women regain their relationships in a situation like yours by practicing The Intimacy Skills. I have a blog about it here: https://lauradoyle.org/blog/my-husband-had-an-affair-now-what/

      Unfortunately, I don’t know a way to “force him to stop” but I do know a way to draw him back to you. As his wife, you have more power than his mistress for sure.

      I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call here to get some support:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      There’s plenty of reason to hope that your husband will devote himself to you and only you again, and your marriage will be better than ever!

      Reply
  15. Hello,

    A man here who just stumbled across your blog. Might I give a great compliment to what you have written, as well as the comments from the ladies struggling with this…very educational.

    I am unfortunately a product of a failed marriage. I can speak from experience that a man really is hurt by his wife’s dispariging words. All a man wants to do in his life is please his lover. I used to beg my wife to just “be nice”. I didn’t even care that she was absolutely incapable of offering or accepting an apology. I could eventually get past the hurt(forgiveness) and reconcile, even though there was never any mention of accepting hurting words on her part.

    The nearest thing I could ever come to ending a disagreement was to just stop and say, “Truce”. Let’s just stop fighting and be nice to each other. The truce word did work for a while, until she got to the point that she just didn’t care anymore.

    If only(yeah, I know) she had just stopped the continued jabs with a pitchfork, I would have tried to move mountains for her.

    TL;DR. Always remember that respect actually feels like love to a man.

    Here’s a quote that I’ve modified from the Bible Ephesians 5.

    “Husbands, love your wives like Christ loves the Church”(Wives, give your husbands something to love). “Wives, respect your husbands”(husbands, give your husbands something to respect).

    Good day ladies…keep up the excellent work. 🙂

    Reply
  16. Laura,
    Thank you for keeping these blogs alive as an encouraging factor for couples. The problem that I believe I have with my husband isnt that we argue or fight or are hurtful as you explain here. But our greatest downfall is that we dont speak at all or close to barely. Then at times when we do speak he can be hurtful towards me by speaking without thinking or realizing what hes saying.

    Now I’m the type that I will blow up and just let him have it, but that was before we got married (almost a year ago), now I stay quiet and keep my thoughts and especially verbal reactions to myself. Now is this a bad thing to do?

    Reply
    • Serrano, I think it’s an excellent idea to not blow up at your husband. I had a hard time with that when I was first married, so I’m glad to hear you have so much self-control. I think I also hear you saying you don’t feel as connected as you would like to, and that you feel hurt at times. Have you read The Empowered Wife? I talk a lot in there about what to do when your husband hurts your feelings, how to get him to know how that feels for you and maybe even get an apology–all while nurturing the intimacy. We used to have a lot of cold-wars–not talking much, just lots of tension in the house–and that might be what your describing. Of course you want to regain the connection, and you absolutely can. Keep me posted on your progress.

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  17. I’m sorry. Maybe you haven’t heard of anger addiction. It’s as real and valid of an addiction as any other. I don’t agree that a wife is always the cause. I, unfortunately, let the anger keep me from standing up for myself, and yes, I was afraid. It was a way to manipulate and bully, to control, demoralize & destroy. Rage is uncontrolled, unhinged anger. I no longer believe it had anything to do with me. I have NOT deserved the things I have endured! The things I was accused of were absolutely not things I could be. This was deep seated and from prior to me being involved. Do NOT say that verbal abuse is always or usually a woman’s fault!! And, he doesn’t have to be physically abusive for it to be an unhealthy situation! The bouts were devastating and destructive.

    Reply
    • Lynn, Sorry to hear of all you went through in your relationship. Sounds terrifying, absolutely. Just to clarify, someone else’s behavior is never your fault. But we can all take a look at our contributions and clean up our side of the street–especially the parts we didn’t realize where we were being disrespectful. It’s amazing how much that changes everything in a relationship.

      Reply
    • Surprised, it’s no fun to be lied to, but I used to have that happen a lot when I was not an emotionally safe person to talk to. In other words, I had something to do with it. Being respectful helps with having my husband know it’s okay to think out loud or make a mistake without having me explode or sulk or demean him. There’s more openness and honesty between us now that I’m safe to talk to.

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  18. I can appreciate your reply. I racked my brain for years to think of anything I could do about it. But when you are lied to no matter what, you know it’s his. Accountability is a choice. So is lying to manipulate perceptions, and using those false perceptions to have and use control over others (and lying about it).

    Reply
    • Surprised, it sounds like it was very painful and stressful for you. I know for me, the things that drove me the most nuts about my husband before I had the Intimacy Skills seemed very stubborn and permanent, but I was amazed at how different things became when I focused on the things in my control. Your situation may have been different, I don’t know. But I feel like it’s always time well-spent to learn to nurture emotional safety, respect, dignity, vulnerability and gratitude. Those are all things I can control, and that’s where I got my miracle.

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  19. Yes, I am and have been investing in those qualities for myself, for my healing, and for my family. I don’t know if following your program can help my marriage situation. You can (actively) love another person, but I dont think you can make someone stop being unkind, verbally or otherwise. You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. I am only able to be around my husband a short time before it happens. I understand the unkindness is a symptom, but I don’t think he wants the cure. (I did read the article about the spouse not working on the marriage.) I believe what you are doing is very good. It is very admirable to encourage love and vulnerability. Thank you.

    Reply
    • Thanks, Surprised. I appreciate that you’re in a tough situation. I hear a few things in your post that gives me confidence that you have a lot of power to create the relationship you’re craving. Most of my clients think their situation is different and incurable, and but it ends up being a wonderful surprise that they held the key all along, just like Dorothy. Have you considered a complimentary discovery call?

      If you’d like one you can apply here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching

      Reply
  20. There are times when my husband called me horrible names if I don’t do what he asks his way. I have tried boundaries, kicking him out, anger, crying and walking out, calling him names back but nothing worked. Im curious to see how the word “ouch” will play out I’m willing to try anything. I think I’ll combine that word along with walking out in order to preserve My self esteem.

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  21. Im heading toward a divorce, im fed up. i recently came across this blog and read ur book in the past which has good points. but i must say i did feel upset and confused too. my husb doesnt talk nice to me at all he lies and gets angry very often. and i always gave him respect ,trusted him treated him well. and he knows it and never complained about me. he has his emotional issues when anything goes bit wrong he just yells and throws stuff like little kid, by now i know its not because of me,like i used to think. He can apologize later that day. but it doesnt help me much because it happens again and again and its not either healthy for kids to see a father acting up. i cant imagine stuff improving until he will go for help which he prob wont. so i dont think all situations is 2 way street. and some wives are simply being crushed

    Reply
    • Reevi, Sounds really scary to live with someone who rages like that. Sorry to hear. You’re the expert on your own life and you know what’s best for you. No one should have to live like that.

      I know that people usually write to me when they want to hear that there is still hope, so I want to let you know that there IS still hope from what you describe here. You could sure use some support as you sound exhausted. Consider a complimentary discovery call to get on the phone with one of my coaches and discover the best move for your marriage. You can apply for your call here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      Reply
  22. As much as I respect your work about saving relationships, your comments about verbal abuse are extremely dangerous. You clearly have no experience with verbal abuse. You are advising people who are in very dangerous situations, when you have no clue about what you are talking about. You are mixing arguing, which is very common among any couple, with abuse. You claim to have a solution to stop verbal abuse! You need to remove this article. You are telling abused women to stay and take more!!! So many situations of verbal abuse turn into suicide or physical abuse!!! Please realize that you are using the wrong words, to attract a very vulnerable group of people. If you keep this article, at least change the tag line, so you do not mislead people in danger.

    Reply
    • Victoria, I can see why you feel this way. Thanks for your concern for people who are being victimized. I’m an advocate for safety–safety comes first, and when you’re truly not safe, that’s a divorce I endorse, as I mention above.

      I too felt victimized in my marriage until I realized all the power that I have to have the kind of relationship I want. I am not telling women who feel victimized that they should take more. I am sharing my own experience and letting them know that they may also have more power than they realize.

      No husband is all black or white, and no wife is either. We’re all shades of gray. And there’s so much we can do to set our own hearts right that is so much more powerful than blaming and criticizing the other person for their part or walking away from a relationship without ever seeing our own contribution to the conflict.

      That said, I trust that every woman is the expert on her own life and will do what she thinks is best, as I know only a little. For those who are looking for hope, I have something to contribute. For those who want to leave, I don’t think they’ll be checking with me for permission first.

      Reply
  23. What about when he calls you names and when I go to break up with him because of it he threatens suicide in order to make me stay? Does threatening suicide after break ups become a deal breaker or is it fixable? Btw we are engaged .

    Reply
    • Maelene, That sounds so scary and stressful. I can see why that seems like a deal breaker. But since you are engaged that tells me that you see something special about him, and that you share something beautiful and amazing between you. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have wanted to marry him. That wasn’t one of his better moments, for sure. But is that who he really is? You know better than anyone. If you didn’t have hope I don’t think you would have written to me. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to find out what’s possible for your relationship. You can do that here:
      https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching/

      Reply
  24. I am so confused by this post, I can’t even put it into words. “Fighting dirty” is a form of verbal abuse, sure, but I wouldn’t call people who do this “verbal abusers.” Verbal abuse is chronic, and perpetuates every facet of your life – it’s not restricted to arguing. It’s mockery of who you are as a person, or what you like to do. It’s mockery of your family and friends. It’s being questioned about where you are going, what you are wearing, who you are going with. You are damned if you do, damned if you don’t. It’s walking on eggshells because you aren’t sure what mood the abuser is in. It’s being talked to condescendingly no matter what you do – you are never good enough, never smart enough, never pretty enough… It is constantly being compared to others. It is being ignored. It is standing up for yourself only to have it all thrown back at you as if you were the problem. It is being called crazy, dramatic, or ridiculous when you say you don’t like being treated that way. It is very obvious to me that you were never a victim of verbal abuse, because that is exactly what they are – victims. Nothing provokes it; if anything, the victim does everything possible to avoid conflict. And I’m sorry, but I would never suggest having a victim apologize to his or her attacker – especially not in verbal abuse. That gives the verbal abuser leverage to continue to keep you down.

    Reply
    • Lacy, What you describe sounds awful and I wouldn’t wish it on anybody! I can see why you feel so strongly about this.

      To clarify, I’m not suggesting that the victim of verbal abuse apologize randomly or to keep the peace when she’s done nothing wrong, but only to clean up her side of the street. Anytime I’m blaming someone else–even for being verbally abusive–I’ve done the very thing I was complaining about. Blaming him for blaming and criticizing him for criticizing is still emotionally hurtful, i.e., abusive.

      For me, being accountable when I felt like a “victim” has been so empowering. Owning my part of the conflict showed me that I wasn’t a victim, but a volunteer.

      Reply
  25. How do you feel about a husband that calls his wife horrible names on a consistent basis for reasons like the wife asking him if he can fold clothes on the couch instead of the bed to refrain from waking her up? And I’m talking about the worst names in the book. When my husband does this to me and I start crying, he calls me weak pathetic and a p**** because I can’t handle it. And I have done nothing to contribute in anyway shape or form.

    Reply
    • Jamie, I feel hurt just thinking about it! No one deserves to be treated that way. I really admire your vulnerability–and your commitment to your marriage.

      There were lots of nasty names flying around my house too. Then I found the 6 Intimacy Skills, which restored the respect between us and made me feel cherished, desired and adored.

      I’d love to see you get the respect and tenderness you deserve. I’ll show you how in my upcoming webinar: How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for free at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/

      Reply
  26. I will not leave my name for privacy reasons, but, and I mean this respectfully, you really must sit in on a couple of meetings with women who are, or have been, verbally abused. If a man is truly verbally abusing his wife she need not do ANYTHING for the abuse to occur. There is NO justification to two people having a different opinion on something and the other resorting to name calling, degrading comments, being called stupid, sworn at, yelled at, etc.. Do you know that this “apology” you ask for just grounds them in the fact that they can manipulate through malice behavior and get what they want. 99% of all verbally abusive men degrade, demean, and destroy their spouses. Please, please, please, do your research on the matter.
    From
    The dumb *****
    The useless piece of ****
    wish you were dead
    you make me sick
    you are so stupid
    I hate you….

    Wife

    I left out most of the things i am called on a regular basis.

    Reply
    • Morgan, I’m so sorry to hear you are being treated in such a demeaning, degrading way. That is devastating. I am in awe of your commitment to your marriage and appreciate your promoting understanding of what victims of verbal abuse go through.

      To set the record straight, I’m not saying that a victim of verbal abuse is asking for it or has done anything to invite such abuse. I agree there is no justification for this kind of behavior. Nobody deserves to be treated that way!

      I feel empowered when I clean up my side of the street because an apology is just that–it’s on my side of the street. I know that it does not give someone else license to do anything since I am not responsible for the other person’s behavior. The apology is for me and my dignity. It’s a bonus when the change in me inspires change in my husband.

      I hear that it’s destroying you to continually suffer from your husband’s malice. If you want to try a new approach, please check out my free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/

      Reply
  27. I agree with apologizing for being disrespectful.

    I don’t think it should be the woman’s job though to “fix it”.

    Like…..oh just move on from a man saying terrible things to you? I don’t think so.

    They shouldn’t even think to speak to you in that way, even if they feel disrespected.

    Reply
    • I hear you, Kelly. I agree! You shouldn’t be expected just to move on when you’re hurt. Your feelings are valid and deserve their day in the sun. And it should not be your job to fix it because he should never speak to you that way in the first place. The problem arises when a man is speaking to you that way and nothing else seems to help.

      I didn’t want a divorce, even when verbal abuse riddled my marriage. The 6 Intimacy Skills created a culture of mutual respect and the playful, passionate marriage I’d always wanted.

      I love your openness to apologizing when you have been disrespectful. If you want more tools to empower you to get the respect and love you deserve, I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills.

      Reply
  28. I’m married to a very Jekyll and Hyde type man. He flies into a rage quite unexpectedly, and it quickly devolves into swearing, yelling, and telling me all the ways I’m weak and incapable. It’s scary, and it feels like being beaten up. I go dark…meaning I just say yes and no, my heart races, I flinch…I’m scared. That just seems to make him more angry and he says that I’m not strong enough to support him when he’s stressed. I’m not fighting back or being defensive…I feel caught between a rock and a hard place, and so I try to be invisible and wait for the storm to pass. In the meantime, it’s hard and sad and its wearing me down. I honestly don’t know what to apologize for…being scared? Not being able to just overlook the huge, violent, mean-spirited indulgent outburst?

    Reply
    • Shannon, that does sound scary to face such anger and be beaten up verbally, then be criticized for it!
      I hear that you’re still willing to apologize, and I acknowledge you for your profound willingness and commitment to your marriage.

      I remember feeling confused about when to apologize and what my part was when my husband and I used to have such explosive fights. With the 6 Intimacy Skills, I learned to identify when I had been disrespectful myself and how to leave what was on his side of the street there. Now that I have the tools to create a culture of respect in my home, we never fight like that anymore! Instead, we have playfulness and passion.

      I’d love to give you the tools to get the respect you deserve. I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

      Reply
  29. This is the most ridiculous thing that I have ever read. Okay, maybe not ever, but it is up there. You are dead wrong and a dangerous person for anyone suffering from any type of abuse to listen to. This seems to be the “norm” from “Christian” women when offering “wisdom” to abuse victims. Please, please, please, stop blaming women for the abuse they incur. EVERY single thing that you said is exactly the opposite of what any woman in any type of abusive relationship should do. PLEASE stop advising anyone about anything.

    Reply
  30. This summer will make nine years since my husband and I got married right after graduating high school. Things were great at first we had out fights but few and far between but three years in we started fighting a lot, again things calmed down and we still had a pretty great marriage and had our first child. Five years in we conceived a second time and sadly experienced the pain of a miscarriage. The first week or so of dealing with that loss we clinger to each other but then all of a sudden things got into a rut. I was still grieving and having a dark bout with depression but he thought it was time to move forward and let go of the pain. Guess that’s just how he dealt with it. Six weeks after the miscarriage we concieved a third time and had a beautiful little boy who we found out is hearing impaired and has a heart murmur but still extremely healthy. Our fighting got even worse after he was born. The insults really started between the miscarriage and conception of baby #3. Suddenly he started calling me hateful and downright crude names that I rather not repeat. This past summer we found out we were expecting once again another boy. I had a rough pregnancy with quite a few complications. Our miracle boy was born six days before thanksgiving, nine weeks premature and has been in the NICU ever sense. Again we clung to each other through most of this but now almost two months post baby and after two days of me on life support things are getting bad again. Now he constantly criticizes my every word action move and everything I do. Cooking cleaning laundry kids driving you name it he critisizes and calls me horrid names. He flies into screaming rages where he just blows up about everything. I don’t know how to fix things at this point. We have both put so much into our marriage neither wants it to end but what do we do???? Help

    Reply
  31. I’m in a second marriage. I know I have made my share of mistakes and said the wrong thing during a fight in anger but things are getting worse. We’ve been married 4 and a half years. If he is in a good mood things go well and he responds with such optimism and great ideas but if something has turned him sour he goes into a depressive state where I don’t know what to say or do and feel like everything is treated like I am out to hurt him. He sulks and disappears when he can for as long as he can. He is forced sometimes to help because I have a chronic illness and get seizures and can’t drive. He lets me know all the pressure he feels and I feel like I don’t know what is true anymore. He says one thing when he seems ok but says something completely opposite when he is mad or just still stuck in the mood that comes afterwards. It’s a period where he has calmed down but the feelings of frustration are still there and he is not reasonable and I feel like he is not the man I know. Sometimes I feel like we can work on issues ourselves and sometimes I think he has to work out his own issues if we have a chance. Other times he acts like we never fought like he wants us to be close and pretend nothing happened. I am confused and hurt. I am trying to be calm when we disagree but it doesn’t seem to be enough. What do I do when he pretends nothing has happened?

    Reply
  32. Women should not have to always be the ones to apologize first and patch things up for the both of them. Disrespect “is like oxygen” to women too, not just men .

    Reply
  33. Hello, I love my husband and he is deep down a good guy, but the last year I’ve suffered great verbal abuse. I feel emotionally down in the dumps. I am a strong minded woman, a career woman, a physician, and a soon to be mother. However like one of the women above, anytime I ask my husband anything, no matter how small. He takes it as a sign of me being overbearing, and controlling. Women like to get things done. If I ask my husband to take of returning one item, or calling our insurance company and one month later it doesn’t get done…I think I have to right to ask him politely to “please take care of these things.” I have never raised my voice, cursed, or called him any names. Yet in response to me asking my husband these things he says “SHUT THE %$&@@ UP” at the top of his lungs, calls me a “#&$*%ing idiot”, tells me he has married to biggest loser in the world. His whole family thinks he has a problem. My mother threw us a religious baby shower this past weekend. Out of respect for my grandma and my culture, my mom made me promise that no one would drink alcohol till the guests left. I promised her. I caught my husband sneaking bourbon during the baby shower my parents threw for US. I asked him respectfully to wait till the guests left. He caused a scene at my own baby shower, cursed me out. Said I was controlling. He has caused me to fall during my pregnancy, which could hurt the baby. He has thrown glasses and come close to the brink of physical abuse, but never directly hit me. I am scared. I love him, but I am scared to say or do anything. I am a Type A personality but he knew that when we got married. I apologize EVERY time, even tho in my gut i know i didn’t do anything wrong. Perhaps in the past I was a bit overbearing, but being overbearing or “nagging” is no excuse for a husband to verbally abuse his wife. I am worn down. I am on the verge of kicking him out, and we have a baby that will be born in less than 2 months. My sister and friends have witnessed his behavior and I always make excuses for him. They don’t think he treats me right or with any respect. yet after every fight he makes it my fault somehow…and I apologize for the sake of it. Or to keep the peace. He has broken many items in our home (including his own hand) out of rage for silly reasons. This is not who he is. He is a sweet man. Something changed this past year. HELP ME PLEASE.

    Reply
  34. But what if HE doesn’t apologize? I can see when he gets abusive. It’s usually when he is questioned or challenged on his behavior.

    For example, we had a great day. He took the day off and we took the family on a hike. He complained the whole time, but when I complained about the bugs bothering me, he said I should “go to my sister to the mall instead.” I questioned why it was ok for him to complain and I couldn’t? He really didn’t have an answer, except that he said his complaints were about himself. Like, that’s different. I could tell it made him upset that I even said anything about his “go to the mall instead” comment.

    All was ok, but I offered to drive home since I figured he was tired. Well, it’s normal for him to criticize my driving. He is easily road raged himself when he drives and he wants me to do what he says when I am driving. He doesn’t sit and sleep on the ride home, or read a book or look at his phone. No, he watches my every move. And I couldn’t do much right. I guess because I am a “woman driver”. Anyway, we were almost home. I was going the speed limit and “let” someone pass me. I said well what did you want me to do. He said, don’t let them. So, I guess I was supposed to speed up and not let him pass me for some reason. I “questioned” him…”What good would that do? Would it teach him a lesson?” And he said yes…”Youre a fucking idiot. I don’t know why I stay married to you.”

    Um.How do I respond to that??? Should I apologize? For what? This is a pattern. He is loving, caring most of the time, but when I “question” him, regardless of whether he should be questioned or not, he gets verbally abusive or he gives me the silent treatment for days.

    Reply
  35. Blaming the victim of abuse and telling her she’s accountable for his behavior might help you sell your “roadmap” but it’s terrible.

    The way to be respected is to find a partner who does not abuse you.

    Reply
  36. I don’t think I deserve to be called names and be told I’m worthless just because I voiced my frustrations of his actions that impact my stress. I think that’s fighting dirty just to protect their ego. Makes me sick how al I wanted to do was establish boundaries but get back a slap in the face

    Reply
  37. Am in the same situation Laura, and am thinking of calling it quit because i can’t stand his verbal abuse anymore. i ve had enough of his insults and always letting me knw how worthless i am. its been 4 days now and we’ve not been talking to each other because am badly hurt about the terrible words he has been using for me any time there’s an argument. The kids are on vacation break and i ve taking them along with me to spend the holidays at my parents end and he has not even checked on us. thought i love my husband and want my marriage back. But my fear is, how to make him stop this abuse and restore peace back in my marriage. He keeps saying am disrespectful of which am not. He does something and dnt feel any remorse at all but he will turn around and put the blames on you aa if you’re always the cause.

    Reply
  38. You’re kidding me, right? I’ve experienced much verbal and physical abuse and have apologized for my part due to how women are suppose to feel they deserve it. You’re article is simply detrimental to women looking for reasonable and sound advice. Hope you sleep well a night telling women that they should, in subtle words, take it and apologize for how men treat them. Wish I had never googled “when men speak hurtful words to their wife”. Unreal!

    Reply
  39. I can appreciate that a person should be respectful of ALL people, including him or herself. That’s just common courtesy, not obsequious fawning. However, I’m at a loss of how to deal with my definitely-abusive (verbal, not physical, though he threatens often) husband. His abuse is draining me emotionally. Most of the time I say nothing in response when he starts carrying on since anything I might say adds fuel to the fire. At times, I’ve definitely NOT been respectful and have blasted back at him after he’s said something amazingly awful to me. By far, though, silence is my only defense. I stay with him for one reason only; I don’t believe in divorce. Separation might be an option. Just for the record, I have apologized when I’ve said something hurtful on quite a few occasions and he has sometimes also apologized. But the problem persists and the environment and atmosphere is heavy and sad. I haven’t mentioned before now that he has been unemployed for most of the past five years which means I’m his sole support. His abuse often comes out of the blue though there are times when I can predict when it will start. I mostly just turn inwards and concentrate on good things. I’m having a particularly hard day today and needed a place to vent. I’m sure he’s not the type of person you were referring to in your post above who could be placated by an apology. His problems are far bigger and deeper-rooted. I’m ready for an end to the frustration and pain. It would be easier if he were employed.

    Reply
  40. I’ve been told that too and was just told today that I’m a blimp. I’ve been called many names, but not “sworn” at because he’s a Christian and doesn’t think swearing is right! He gets in these rants where he won’t stop even when I’m crying and begging him to stop- he has called me the c word and stupid, dumb and retarded. He also has trouble keeping work and that has led to a lack of respect on my part towards him- it’s always someone elses fault for why he quits jobs and it puts a lot of stress on the family. I thought of leaving so many times but have two children with him, but am worried about what they are hearing and the failure of another marriage. I feel like I’m just surviving when I get home- there is no connection and quite honestly, even after praying and asking God to change things, there’s no result- it truly takes two and both have to see the things that need to be worked on and changed. Silence is how I deal a lot of times and I’ve been feeling so down- it’s depressing to think of spending years more with this man

    Reply
  41. At times, my narc husband will begin verbally abusing me just after getting out of bed. I sincerely did NOTHING for him to be screaming at me. I have tried being calm, watching my words, focusing on the behavior or issue & not the person. But HE just rages on! He will actually rage for over 2 hours by himself!! This is after I have told him that I will not have a conversation with him until he can speak calmly & rationally in a respectful manner. I will have a conversation with you at that time. I give say about 15 minutes…but nope! He still chooses his bad behavior & more filthy words. What do you do then??

    Reply
  42. You give the worst advise I have ever heard! Are you for real? So many men are controlling narssisists! They get a kick out of telling their wives what to do and demeaning them on a daily basis. They feel better about themselves by belittling someone else. And your advise is for us to apologize to them?

    Reply
    • Marcie, I’m wondering if you feel that telling someone she gives the worst advice you have ever heard is demeaininng or belittling?

      Reply
  43. People will write anything to sell a book. Anyone in an abusive relationship should never continue staying in that relationship. I have done it for 28 years and now I am completely done with the relationship and I know that is the first step to healing myself from what I have lived through.

    Reply
  44. In 2000, my husband and I returned from Hawaii. Our daughter was married there and my husband had agreed to pay plane, lodging, for our other daughter, her spouse and one yr old baby so they could be there for the wedding too. Overall, it was a wonderful trip but upon our arrival home, the next day something snapped in my husband. We were driving around our home town doing a little shopping. In a 5 lane road, he was in the “go straight” lane . The lane to
    His left was the left turn lane. We were stopped at red light and when it changed…he began to turn left, I couldn’t believe it! I said nothing, as I am not allowed to and especially when he is driving. He then complained to me…he says, ” did you see what that other car did? She cut me off!”
    I gently explained that he wasn’t in the left turn lane. He exploded. He told me that I was wrong.
    He drove all the way around and drove back down that same road to prove me wrong….then he said to me: WELL, YOU ARE RIGHT , FOR ONCE IN YOUR LIFE!” I couldn’t believe him! I did nothing wrong. It never failed, when he had a bad day at work, he took it out on me…verbally.
    One time I threatened to leave him, he said, good, maybe you will learn something, I retorted,
    “I learn plenty just by watching you!” He cowered.the next day he took me out to a bed and breakfast. Our dinner at night..he reached across the table and took my hand and told me that he needed to be thankful for what he has” ….now that we have been retired he rarely ever starts that verbal crap, because I usually know what to say…”if u are angry at someone, don’t take it out on me!” And he knows I mean it. He is mild now and laid back , so much better than when we were younger.

    Reply
  45. This article just hurts to read. Yes, i believe you should always reflect on yourself and admit when you’re wrong and what you’ve contributed to the fight. But i feel this article is reaching a lot of people that want to feel better..but it only applies to the people that are also abusers themselves?? Im honestly just amazed this is one of the first articles that popped up. Congratulations! But, I hope by now your perspective has changed. What kind of person tells the victim that it was their fault??

    Reply

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