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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.

Verbal Abuse Women

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.

what causes verbal abuse

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:

1. Watch the Replay

Am I Disrespectful

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.

2. Restore the Respect with an Apology

responding to verbal abuse

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.

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.

how to stop verbal abuse

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.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

144 replies on “Verbally Abusive Men and How to Make Them Stop”

Heyy I am in a marriage with my husband for 4 years almost 5 years and my husband calls me bad names and cussing me out. He threw me out of my house twice and I always apologize even though it’s not my fault. Bad thing today he wanted a fishing license for Ms for a year but couldn’t find tht so wen I told my husband he said I was dumb and tht he wants a smart woman and he said yea I was already thinking of leaving u for a smart woman and I got up and started crying in the bathroom. Nothing I do will ever make him happy bc I was born disabled. Wat should I do. Im trying my best to stay with him bc I dnt think no one wants a woman thts disabled. It took me a long time to find a guy tht would treat me right but I think I’m wrong.

Elizabeth, no one deserves to be treated this way. It’s heartbreaking to be doubting yourself and even wondering whether you’re desirable on top of everything else. I remember feeling undesirable too and being on the fence, and how painful it was. That’s why I’m so passionate about getting the 6 Intimacy Skills into the hands of every woman and would love to share them with you. You deserve to be respected, desired and cherished!

Apologize to him???? I always do; then he says, “Sorry means nothing.” He says that he calls me the most foul names and throws me out of the house because “it must have been something I (meaning me) must have said to him. Then I ask him, “My gosh, what did I say?” Says he, “Well, I can’t remember.” If it was that bad to turn our lives upside down, surely he would remember. I would. No, for the woman who is being abused to apologize is bad advice. At the very most, it’s just putting a loose band-aid on the nightmare.

Dustine, I hope you find something else that works for you. Because this does sound like a nightmare. No one deserves to be treated that way. You are amazing to be the one apologizing after that.

The apology alone didn’t cut it for me either, only in conjunction with the rest of the 6 Intimacy Skills. Here they are if you want to give them a try so you can experience real change.

Hi Dustine,
I agree with you. No woman should have to apologize for being called names by your husband. I think this is a bad idea. Name calling is a form of abuse. No matter what you said or done, name calling is a low blow and never acceptable. I am living this life with my husband. I am thinking of leaving him.

Donna, I hear you. You shouldn’t have to apologize for him calling you names. Or be subjected to abuse. That is not acceptable, and no one deserves to be treated that way. I can see why you’re thinking of leaving.

Being on the fence is so painful. I remember being there myself. I felt I needed a miracle to fix my marriage. To paraphrase Thomas Wolfe, miracles not only happen around here, they happen all the time!

It sounds like you’re looking for options, so here’s an alternative if you do want to stay and have the respect you deserve.

My husband is a true narcissistic person that is Bipolar as well— he refuses to accept his problem that his whole family sees also.
His verbal comments happen daily sometimes for hours – always attacking my children and parents for their political party🤦‍♀️
I first tried defending myself but since have stopped as it brought me to stress and tears — I recently started taking Lexapro to help with the stress and it’s helped with me being numb to most of his rants. I can do nothing right in his eyes because I wasn’t in the military like him for 20 years! In his eyes no one is worthy unless you serve your country!
I am his third wife and he dated numerous women that left him during a 4 year period I was told by his sister.
I’m hanging on by a tread – he’s spent all my inheritance and all our savings on this property we bought and building a small apartment in a big workshop .— his dream.
It’s to the point he tells me not to talk if a ask a question— which I try not to talk unless he asks a question then when I do he goes on a rant with my answer.
I’ve read two of Laura’s books to no avail.
If I apologize I’m being a smart mouth or called a liar!
We have no physical life unless he wants me to take care of his needs but not in a normal way🤮 When I try to talk about it he gets all crazy so I just have given up.
He was kind and passionate when we dated but the day of marriage that ceased ! From articles I’ve read this is his narcissistic behavior— wish I had know before marrying!
At a total loss — I try to do what I can to make him happy but he criticizes everything—
He refuses counseling— says he doesn’t have a problem.

Pat, I’m sorry to hear you’re going through that. You shouldn’t have to feel like you’re hanging on by a thread. I can see why you feel at a loss! It’s scary and painful to have read my books and tried to make changes, seemingly to no avail. You are not alone.

I still remember how bad it felt when I thought my marriage was hopeless. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women, even when they felt that their situation was too far gone and the Intimacy Skills just wouldn’t work for them.

We can help you too. Here’s a free Roadmap to fix your relationship.

From a man’s point of view this article is 100% correct, thank you so much for writing it. The women in the comments getting very upset are exactly the ones who would never apologise for the horrible hurtful things that they say to their husbands, but then cry abuse if boo is said to them.

This advice is utterly ridiculous! As a woman who has suffered 30 years of verbal and emotional abuse, I have to question whether you have any idea of what you are talking about. Abusers get off on making you feel submissive, scared and vulnerable so that they can feel powerful and grow their already destructive egos. Your advice is an exercise in putting the responsibility back on the woman. The innocent party has to appease, ego stroke and become even more submissive in order to be treated with dignity and respect. I am horrified that any woman would give such poor advice to her abused sisterhood. Perhaps we should bake him some cookies too?

Thank you !!!! I am no therapist , but reading this felt like a slap in the face . I have been verbally abused for over 6 years . I tried to be the sweet wife who swept it under the rug . Told myself all women get verbally abused . Not true . I have never in my life called my husband a bad name or word . At times when arguing I always respect him. Never raise my voice while he is screaming inches from my face . I have never understood being horribly abused . It’s not normal, and its taken away all my self worth. Some stay in the abusive situation due to kids or financial reasons . It’s why I have stayed for this long . I was looking for advice and came across this article . I thought it was a joke at first.

Agree eoth you. This is the worst advice ever. This ‘therapist’ suggests its our fault our husbands cannot control their anger. My husband will fly off the handle when not even provoked…if hes frustrated with putting furniture together and its not going his way, everyone better watch out.

Sammy, that sounds really scary. Especially when he flies off the handle without provocation. You don’t deserve that–no one does.

For me, I’ve found that I cannot control my husband, so his behavior isn’t my fault. I’ve also found that as the wife I have enormous power in my relationship. So I have been able to create a culture of mutual respect in my home, and so have thousands of other women practicing the 6 Intimacy Skills.

I hope you find what works for you too. I’m standing for you to turn things around.

It’s not easy to reason with an unreasonable partner. Especially after the 100th time and theyre the only one hurling insults, turning the tables completely and never owning up to their wrong doings. This would work in a situation where there are 2 people who knew how to communicate properly but unfortunately if there is a abuser involved thats obviously not the case. Yes there are disagreements but being the bigger person all the time gets exhausting and eventually you get pushed away. There’s always better ladies.

So let me get this straight, women have to apologize to their husbands, boyfriends or whoever for being disrespectful regardless of the issue in order to make the man stop cussing and belittling their partner???? There is no excuse for abuse of any kind! It appears to me that you are enabling poor behavior!

“Oh if the little wife just apologizes sans cowers and admits she was disrespectful, maybe the barbaric prick will forgive her and be nice to her without having to accept any accountability for his actions!”

Good god woman! What turnip truck did you roll off of??? You are seriously out of your mind!

This blogger is a joke!

Christina, Sometimes criticism or even verbal abuse is in our blind spot. For example, some of what you wrote here could be considered verbal abuse, although I’m sure that’s not your intention since you are clearly opposed to verbal abuse. It’s been so empowering for me to look at my side of the street and see what I can clean up instead of flinging insults and losing my dignity.

I get what you are trying to say, and apologising for ones mistakes is a positive suggestion, in my opinion, which can help to build bridges. However, I agree with several other commenters; I don’t think you have actually experienced real verbal abuse. What you are talking about is how to diffuse an argument or reconcile afterwards when both parties have some responsibility; this is not verbal abuse.
If someone is screaming at you, calling you names, demeaning and bullying you, not letting you speak, intimidating you, making you feel worthless, mocking and threatening you…. apologising is not something you should attempt and in a situation where verbal abuse is present may just make things worse for yourself in the moment and thereafter.
Verbal abuse is a form of domestic abuse – would you categorise your relationship as one containing domestic abuse previously? It’s admirable of you to try and help people with their relationships, but it’s not helpful to espouse wisdom about that which you don’t fully understand and have not actually experienced.

“I am sorry I disrespected you?” That is your advice? Could that be any more submissive and degrading to tell a woman to suck it up and take it for the team and say sorry for being disrespectful? If you want to stroke a males ego and be their unequal counterpart, maybe….Neither side is excused for swearing or name calling. Yelling or any other inappropriate words.
Apologize sooner rather than later for what you said and show you mean it by not doing it again or your apologies are insincere.

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??

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.

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.

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?

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

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??

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

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.

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!

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.

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

Some men are just not mature to take good care of wives.
Yes, the way to be respected is to find a partner who does not abuse you.

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.

I agree, what she is saying might work in a disagreement between husband and wife but not with verbal abuse. Verbal abuse is as bad as physical would anyone think the word sorry would fix it if it was physical? No, or the word ouch that is the silliest thing I have heard if I said ouch to my husband he would scream at me more telling me I was being a smart ass or worse. This woman really needs to take this down or change the title. To someone who had had their self esteem stripped through abuse and being told they should clean up their side of the fence and say sorry is simply making those who are being abused feel worse and like maybe it’s our fault.

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.

I came across this post. I am in a very similar situation. I am the bread winner, own the house, spouse very verbally abusive and breaks everything but when in not in a rage mood is a good guy. I am curious how things turned out for you. I hope you are well.

BB, that sounds so scary. And confusing, knowing that you have a good guy when he’s not in a rage. I hear you asking whether there’s hope, right? I remember feeling hopeless and how painful it was. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women fix their relationships, even when he was a rager. We can help you too! You can learn more about the 6 Intimacy Skills right here so you can turn things around too.

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.

What happened? I find myself in almost the same situation and I am so torn. I love him so much. He has issues whenever family or friends come over…he doesn’t want to share me. I left two days ago and have been staying with friends. I would love to know how things turned out with you!

Grace, I can see why you’re feeling torn. You deserve the freedom to have family and friends over without his issues getting in the way. Leaving when you love him so much sounds really painful and heartbreaking.

I hear you asking whether there’s hope.

I remember being on the fence, feeling hopeless about my marriage. I was too embarrassed to get a divorce. Turns out, no one had taught me the skills for intimacy, but once I learned them it was amazing how everything turned around. You can learn more about the 6 Intimacy Skills here. If I can do it, I know there is hope for you too!

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 .

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?

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

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.

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?

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

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.

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.

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.
The dumb *****
The useless piece of ****
wish you were dead
you make me sick
you are so stupid
I hate you….


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

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

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.

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

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.

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.

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 .

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:

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.

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.

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

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:

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.

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.

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:

Your situation sounds similar to mine. We can’t be around each other for long before an outburst happens unless I make myself not react to things that actually do bother me.

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).

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.

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.

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.

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.

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?

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.


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. 🙂

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?

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:

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:

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!

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!

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!

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.

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.

I’m going to give it a shot! He said he wants a divorce but hasn’t left yet, so it can only help!

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.

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.

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. :/

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:

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 😉

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 🙂

I have the book Love Dare. at some point I had to share the book with my husband and was ordered by him to stop.

The day I put the book on the shelve and left it there was the day he ripped apart the apartment. He overturned the desk, the kitchen table, the sofa, and dumbed every drawer and emptied every book shelve. He said he knew I was cheating the big clue was this book he found.

When really I got the book for me. I figured I can always improve.

You know what Since I got the book off the shelve for this maybe I will start reading it again.

It’s funny because by my notes this happened very early in our marriage. So I was already doing things like massages and hair cuts ( still do both those things on a regular basis.) All the household chores where and are my responsibility. He absolutly hates when people bring him things.. So the suggestion to suprise him with something like his favorite desert was just met with being told I was wasting money. My notes for day 14 are intresting.. “purposefully neglect something you would normally do to spend time with your spouse” He was too busy with other things that day. So we did not do anything togather.

p.s. He really does dislike being given gifts to the point it causes anger.
I would like to know why that is, he would probably have to do some self reflection.


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!

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.

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?

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.

This is exactly like my husband, he’s always finding fault. He’s a fault finder, always complaining. Ha! Tired

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

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.

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.

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.

I have a great guy! he is loyal, trustworthy, protective, funny and affectionate and he has builds me up and supports me. But when we have an argument he has to have the last say and if i don’t back down he gets more aggravated to the point he can say some really nasty things. I know he doesn’t mean it but just like sometimes I cant help but push his buttons, he can’t help but lose his cool and do some name calling. I think Laura is talking about this type of man as not all men who can’t control their tongue are narcissistic abuser who really are trying to destroy your self worth. I have been in an abusive relationship in the past and their is a difference between these types of men.

he actually can help it. he actually can keep himself from losing his cool. It’s called emotional regulation. Men have a responsibility to choose kind and respectful words and make sure those words come out of their mouths.

I 100% agree! U shouldnt be disrespectful neither should he! Bit u shouldn’t tip toe around him so he doesnt loose his cool. Both parties need to practice self control if not walk away and speak later when your anger is not blinding you. This article need some work!

Im in a similar boat. Im stuck in a verbally abusive relationship and he knows it. When I stand up for myself it usually escalates the anger from him. He has to be the one in control over everything . My husband is a pretty selfish person a lot of the times . He just doesn’t seem to grasp my needs as a wife person , period. He was brought up by a mean alcoholic father and a sweet mom who had to endure it. He has the EQ of a lizard. Not saying that to be mean. But there are some things you can’t teach another human being. One of those being empathy. I absolutely dread getting sick 😫 after having covid four yrs ago my health has declined my amunine system is shot.

Jennifer, I’m sorry to hear what you’re going through. No one deserves to be abused. That’s not right. Having your health suffer on top of that sounds so hard and scary.

I still remember how bad it felt when I thought my marriage was hopeless and that my husband would never change. That’s why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women. We can help you too. Get a coach so you can stop feeling controlled and afraid, and start feeling desired, taken care of and special!

Thank you for sharing the concept of “cleaning up your own side of the street”. It’s never okay to demean or verbally attack your partner, it is however okay to disagree. Sometimes we lose sight of where the line is we’re not supposed to cross, when that happens…we need to own our actions…that’s what I hear you saying. Not okay to be abusive; when we’re wrong, gotta own it and correct it.

Perhaps outline this in the piece rather than burying it in the comments. I’m sure there are many desperate women looking for guidance, and this piece makes no distinction between types or situations. And it really does appear to suggest that women are responsible for mens’ anger issues by being “disrespectful”—such an odd choice as it is such a loaded word. There is also no mention of the husband, in turn, apologizing for his disrespect and shouting/swearing, which is at least tantamount to abuse.

If you don’t know the difference between fighting dirty and verbal abuse, then you are totally in the wrong field and need to stop writing articles. Verbal abuse is when someone yells or says mean things simply because they are in a bad mood. Getting mad at you for basically just existing. For example, we had plans to go out to a friend’s for the evening. He gets a text from this friend and tells me that our plans may be canceled. I asked why? He got mad and said it didn’t matter, just that it might not happen anymore. I said it did matter because I wanted to know whether it was worth continuing to get ready and asked what did the friend say so I could have a better perspective on the situation. He got mad because I couldn’t just listen to him. He wouldn’t give any answers.
Wanna know what the friend had texted? He said he was going to be a little late, so don’t come at the original time we set. No indication that plans were going to be canceled at all. But I was the bad guy for wanting a little information. That’s abusive. I had absolutely nothing to apologize for. I should be allowed to ask why plans are changing without being treated like a disrespectful woman. Fighting dirty is when both people say mean things

Kat, I hear you. You should not be made to be the bad guy just for wanting to know whether to keep getting ready! That’s not right. Especially when you weren’t fighting dirty (or fighting at all). I really get how frustrating it is that he’d get mad just because you wanted some info. No one deserves abuse.

I remember feeling so disrespected and also so frustrated I couldn’t get my husband to change. I didn’t want a divorce, so I was just… stuck. When I finally learned how to get the respect and love I’d wanted all along, it was so freeing.

You deserve to be respected and cherished. I hope you find what you’re looking for.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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?

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.

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?

Exactly. Blaming the victim after basically saying we are not being abused at all because men never claim to be abused. All day long I get sworn at, screamed at and criticized….called an f-ing idiot like it’s nothing. I run a business with my husband so there’s no escape. And she thinks I should apologize because surely I must have rolled my eyes or been disrespectful. Believe me I do a lot of self introspection. I’ve tried to be perfect for him but it’s impossible and wouldn’t work anyway. He makes fun of my looks, my intelligence, my skill….he gas lights me all the time. He’s so sweet to others like overboard then glances my way with fire in his eyes. I’m the cause of all his problems. Author needs to read up on narcissism to see that these narcs (men and women) are pure evil. And this is a harmful article to someone out there reading in a weak moment. But hey, be better ladies and gentlemen and your spouse wouldn’t have to torture you.

Right! My god, what a terribly archaic person Laura is! This article was such a disappointment.

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!

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.

My husband would not respond well to an “ouch” or “that hurts me”. He does not respond kindly or with compassion when I speak gently to him. He mocks me or thinks I’m being condescending or simply does not care that his words and actions are negatively affecting me. He says I’m too sensitive. I’m not sure that there is anything I can do to make the climate in my home better. If I’m silent about things that bother me I don’t feel like I’m an equal or even in a relationship. If I voice my concerns, even in a loving way, I’m dismissed, told “I don’t want to hear it”, “F You”, or again that I’m overreacting….or I’ll be told, “what about how you act?” of “If you didn’t do X then I wouldn’t blow up on you”. There is no accountability from my husband’s side of things. I feel hopeless that this marriage can make it.

I think you may be married to my husband! He blows up at the slightest thing, says hurtful things all day then ignores me for 3 to 4 days. Then he acts like nothing happened and everything should go back to normal…until it happens a couple of days later. I am currently being ignored. Yesterday we came back from shopping and as soon as I got in the door he demanded that I do the dishes . I said I will do them but I have a couple of things that I had to do first that were higher priority. He went off. First the name calling and telling me what a loser I am. Then when we were driving to another store he told me that if he sees an attractive woman walking down the street he was going to kick my fat ass out of the car and take her home instead. I ended up walking home after he drove off on me.

Yes, I did respond to his name calling. When he called me a loser I said perhaps I would be less of a loser if I were allowed to work on my business as much as he did. We both run our own businesses except he works 12 hours a day on his but every time I sit down to work on mine, he has a new household job or job for his business for me to do. Guess whos is more successful? I wouldn’t mind so much except I have to pay my share of the rent and bills.

I just can’t imagine apologising to him for disrespecting him! I agree that that is how he views it. I know that he thinks I am disrespecting him by not saying how high when he says jump. But what about the disrespect he is showing me??? I will never ever get an apology. If I followed this advice it would be a never ending cycle of him doing whatever he wanted to me and me constantly apologising for it.

Kerry, Im sort of in the same boat. How did you deal with it? Did things get better?

Joanne, I hear you asking whether things can get better for you in that boat, with the painful cycle of him blowing up, ignoring you and pretending nothing happened. That’s not right. I still remember thinking my marriage was hopeless and being scared to try, which is why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women fix their relationships, including those in this boat.

YES, we can help you too! Get a coach so you too can turn things around. Join the waitlist for The Ridiculously Happy Wife coaching program here:

OMG… are so wrong with this stuff. you have never been abused and you are giving dangerous advice. Please, Please stop and withdraw your article. I have been abused for 30 years. Saying “ouch” would trigger a violent response. you need to stop giving advice that could lead to a woman getting injured….

Why stay in an abusive relationship for 30 years?
Not judging. I have been in one for 2.0, knowing he was really a good man and this advice works for me. I do need to be more responsible for my words. I can’t change my husband, he will always have mean streak, but I can work with it and live with it.
Telling someone to get out of a truly abusive relationship is like telling an alcoholic just to stop drinking.
No matter the degree of the abuse, you need to look at yourself and change that first.
Thank you Laura

It is the exact same way here. If I bring something up mean that my husband did- 100 % of the time he will literally just instead bring up something that I did wrong that was similar. He will NEVER take any small criticism to heart and he will never EVER genuinely apologize unless it’s for throwing something at me.

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:

Well, the verbal abuse became into a physical abuse. Now I am in a shelter . My life has been living hell….

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.

Ah I hope you find happiness and you are able now to enjoy your life. I’m 67 mine started 3 years ago I’m everything from a dog to a pig. I don’t answer just cry when I’m on my own. Bless you. Good luck for the future xx

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..

That’s actually not what she said, she said its not known if its simply that men dont call it abuse or if it just isnt happening nearly as much or at all that men are the victims, so that’s actually not saying one way or the other!! She actually clearly tried to stay neutral, but because you are clearly hurting your just taking it the wrong way!! Everyone knows that a woman can abuse a man just as well, it’s just usually it doesn’t affect men the same hence why they dont label it what it actually is

She actually clearly tried to spout her opinion off as fact while it’s really just her opinion. It’s also her opinion that women usually did something wrong and they should pinpoint it and apologize for their “disrespect”. And men can and are verbally and emotionally abused by women. Sad that Laura Doyle is pandering to abused women by telling them they need to be hyper aware of everything they do and immediately apologize to avoid being verbally berated and emotionally damaged.

After reading this article and several of the comments, I feel that the reason your article had envoked so much intense emotion is because of the lack of clarification as to whom this articles intended audience is. perhaps It would be helpful for your readers if you clarified several times throughout your article that your target audience is healthy couples who get into arguments and lack the self control to bridal their tongues and both parties are guilty of this offense. Your article is a suggestion on how to remedy this. In my humble opinion in the with in the context I just described, I feel it is an effective strategy. However, I think it would be absolutely vital to your effectiveness as a writer to to put a very clear disclaimer, that this advice is not intended for woman in abusive relationships. Please hear my heart, I am only thinking of the victims who already blame themselves and this could be very damaging for them, further more telling men who may have personality disorders, telling them to say ouch or to express their feelings, is going to come off as an insult and will be perceived from the abuser as a threat and challenge, which could but a woman’s (victim) in grave danger. This kind of thing is what sets off men with personality disorders and it makes them extremely angry because they see you as a part of them and it will be extremely detrimental to the victim. So please please clarify and please direct woman who reach out to you to professionals and allow them to be the ones to give advice instead of you. This could be the difference between life and death and you do not want that on your hands. Thank you for your time, please consider this.

My life partner has a personality disorder. I went through Laura’s program. You’re right, he didn’t like the “ouch” at all. But it did not put me in danger because she also taught me how to not engage along with the “ouch” (He wasn’t physically abusive). But learning how to use these skills she teaches effectively actually helped a TON and what was a full blown PDO is now a minimal issue in our relationship. The “ouch” was WAY better than anything I had been doing prior. Ultimately, in my opinion, how to put a stop to co-dependent behavior (although she never uses those words to describe it – that’s what her skills did for me) and create an environement in the relationship for love and happiness to have a chance to grow. In fact, I know many women who’ve been through her program with men who have a PDO and they’re actually happy and peaceful with their men now. Some women aren’t safe no matter what they do. I never thought it would work in my relationship and it did take time but 3 years in, my relationship went from verbally violent and hostile battle ground with his PDO toxic male symptoms all over the place to peaceful and loving with a pretty regular guy who works to make me happy and please me every day. Thanks Laura!!

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