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When Your Spouse Says Hurtful Things: 20 Tips to Know Before Reacting

When your spouse says hurtful things it is easy to overreact and take it personally. Instead, learn how to remain calm and work through the situation.

when your spouse says hurtful things

In a perfect world, you would never have negative feelings towards your partner. But this isn’t a perfect world. There are times where you can’t stand your partner, and whatever you do, there’s an argument awaiting you, especially when your spouse says hurtful things.

And when two people butt heads, it happens that one party may accidentally say something hurtful. That doesn’t mean your partner is a bad person or that they wanted to hurt you.

When you’re in the heat of the moment, things slip out of your mouth and take the argument down a completely different road.

These hurtful things can take a simple disagreement and blow it out of proportion. One comment can really change how you see each other.

But, you can work to ensure that when your spouse says hurtful things, you work through it to come to an understanding instead of letting things get out of hand. [Read: Why fighting in a relationship is actually important]

When your spouse says hurtful things

Wouldn’t it be lovely if you and your spouse were just always kind and calm? Of course, it would. But, that isn’t reality.

You are both stressed and get tired and you say things you don’t mean. Those slip-ups can really do a lot of damage.

Before actively doing anything in these moments, take a step back. Is this something that was said in the heat of the moment or is it a repetitive issue? [Read: 15 MAJOR red flags you should never make excuses for]

Really take time before reacting. When we react to something hurtful, we usually do it with something equally hurtful which will never help the situation.

If your goal is to diffuse the situation, you need to take time to look at it from a distance. Being in those immediate emotions is a lot to handle. Reacting when you are hurt leads to overreacting.

What to do when your spouse says hurtful things

Maybe your partner commented on your family, about your appearance, or any insecurities you may have. Of course, they shouldn’t do that. But, it probably isn’t something worth having a huge blow out over.

It was said; it’s out there now, and there’s no going back. All you can do is move forward. But that’s easier said than done.

You’re hurt and deserve an apology, but fighting back won’t get one. You need to take some steps to calm the situation and make things better, not worse. [Read: Why fighting in a relationship is important and advice for how to do it right]

How do you move forward after your spouse says hurtful things to you? Well, it’s not exactly easy, but it can be done. And if you feel unable to forgive, well, really think about what you want.

It’s time to heal the wounds from when your spouse says hurtful things.

1. Don’t attack back

When someone says hurtful things to you, it’s easy to attack them back with words you know will hit the spot. Just because your spouse decided to say something that hurt you, doesn’t mean you should do the same. It’s hard to hold your tongue when you’re emotional, but you need to take the high road.

You might ask, why should I be the bigger person when they weren’t? But, that isn’t what a healthy relationship is about. It isn’t about getting even. Your partner had a moment of weakness and it hurt you. Instead of hurting them, try to let it go in any way you can. [Read: How to deal with the pain of feeling hurt]

2. Be upset

A big mistake a lot of people make have when your spouse says hurtful things is to try to forgive and forget right away. You don’t want to feel bad so you try to move on. But, that only leads to resentment. Those feelings you swallow down will add up eventually and explode.

Instead, take time to be sad and hurt. You don’t need to yell and scream, but go ahead and cry. My partner accidentally said something that really hurt me once. I took a while to let it sink in and then I cried. I let out those negative feelings.

It felt good to really feel my emotions and not just try to ignore them or move on before actually sitting with them. [Read: 18 emotions you shouldn’t feel when you’re in a healthy relationship]

3. Take some time to cool off

Your spouse just said something extremely hurtful to you. Now is not the time to continue your argument. Nothing is going to be solved when you are this upset. Instead, take a step back and cool off.

You need some alone time to re-evaluate the situation and think about what was said and how you feel about the entire situation. Let them know you’re going for a walk or go to a separate room. Take some time to cool down and get away from the immediate hurt.

Doing this will help you see the situation for what it was. Nothing will make what they said right, but some distance from the initial pain will help you be more rational. [Read: 6 things you should never, ever say in relationship fights]

4. Talk to your partner

But not right away. After you’ve cooled off a bit, sit down with your partner and talk about the argument, specifically discussing what they said. You don’t need to attack them, but let them know how what they said made you feel.

Your spouse knows what they said. You don’t need to reiterate it to make them feel bad. Start with saying, “I felt hurt when you said…”. Let them know why it hurt you, even if you know it wasn’t meant maliciously.

Whether they said something mean or they said something deeper that signifies underlying problems, you need to discuss it. [Read: How to tell you’re partner when you’re unhappy]

5. Put yourself in your partner’s shoes

This is going to be hard, especially when you’re in the middle of an argument, but look at the situation from your partner’s point of view. Once you’ve had a chance to step back, try to see where they are coming from.

Have you ever had a bad day and taken it out on them? What are they going through? You’re not making excuses, but trying to see their side so you can come together more easily.

Instead of retaliating or plainly wondering how to react when your spouse says hurtful things, try to see where you two differ in opinions and viewpoints. [Read: How a fight can help you grow closer to your partner]

6. Write down how you feel

Not everyone is able to verbally express how they feel. It can be hard to put that pain into words out loud.

You may have a partner that isn’t the best listener either. Whatever the case may be, write down your thoughts and feelings. This can be a way to help them understand how you feel and to work through it yourself.

After an argument, write down how you felt and what the argument was about. This will help you reflect on what happened. Maybe it will open your eyes to another conversation you need to have or it may help you calm down and release your negative emotions. 

7. Remember, your feelings are valid

You may have told your partner how their words have made you feel. Now, the best-case scenario is that they realize what they said and apologize. They should understand that even if they didn’t intend to be hurtful, they were.

Worst case, they tell you you’re overreacting and emotional. In this case, you need to know that your feelings are completely valid. Your spouse telling you that you are overreacting when you feel hurt is gaslighting and is a form of manipulation. They don’t want to take responsibility and instead, want you to feel bad.

You have the right to feel whatever you’re feeling. If they aren’t open to hearing you out and apologizing it may be time for a different sort of talk. [Read: Selfishness in relationships and 15 tips to do the right thing]

8. Think positive

Yes, your partner said hurtful things to you. And I understand that your partner is probably your best friend, the person you confide in and lean on. That means when they said hurtful things it cuts even deeper.

But, you cannot let their words affect you negatively. I know that it’s extremely hard to let things go, but don’t let your partner’s words weigh you down and create insecurities.

Your confidence isn’t linked to their words, it is pulled from you. Keep ahold of your self-respect so that you can go into this conversation knowing that you deserve to be heard.

9. Take your time to heal

When your partner says something hurtful to you, this isn’t going to heal overnight. Even if you have a great talk and move forward, it will still sting.

It may take a couple of days, even weeks until you feel yourself again. Not everyone is so quick to forgive and move on when they’ve been hurt by their partner. And that’s perfectly fine. Take all the time you need. Just be sure to keep communicating to them that you are working through it. Icing them out will make things worse. [Read: How to get past emotional damage]

10. Find relief

Try to do something constructive to help yourself move forward. Don’t look at your exes or your spouse’s exes on social media. Don’t dwell. Talk to a trusted friend. Find a creative outlet like music or art. Even go for a run.

These things will help you release all that emotional energy in a healthy way.

11. Reflect on the relationship

Is your partner always saying hurtful things to you? Or is this is a one-time thing?

If your partner is always saying hurtful things to you, then you should really look at your relationship and see if you want a partner who is emotionally abusive. Yes, everyone makes mistakes, but this shouldn’t be a constant issue.

If they apologize they should be working on not letting it happen again. If they say sorry, but continue that behavior it is a much bigger issue. You deserve to be with someone who takes accountability for their actions and words. [Read: Signs your relationship is doomed]

12. Learn

Whether you talked about it and moved forward or not, learn from this experience. Don’t try to forget it because it hurt. What did you learn? Did you learn that when your partner has a bad day they have a temper? Did you learn that you need to take more time before discussing things?

Take something from this and try to use it moving forward. Odds are this wasn’t your first fight and it probably won’t be your last. [Read: 25 signs of disrespect in a marriage that shouldn’t be tolerated]

13. Seek help

Listen, relationships aren’t easy. And even though you may love your partner, you may have a different way of expressing yourselves. The lack of communication and understanding could cause frustration, which is why your partner says hurtful things. That’s just one possibility.

If you find yourself in these situations often, you may have a pattern. You two aren’t meshing well on how you deal with conflict. It may seem like a lot, but a couple’s counselor can help you get to the root of the problem and give you exercises to work on together.

Counseling shouldn’t be the last resort in a relationship. Seeking help together shows a willingness to work on your problems. Doing this before it is too late is how you truly fix things. [Read: How to know if relationship therapy can help your romance]

14. Talk about it

Again, I want to really emphasize this. If you don’t appreciate things your partner says to you, talk about that with your partner. Your partner may be completely unaware of how their words affect you. Maybe they have thick skin and don’t realize you’d be hurt by what they said.

Whether they’re aware or not, they also need to know where your boundaries are. You deserve to be treated well, even if hurting you wasn’t on purpose. Don’t believe that your feelings aren’t important. You should feel confident in sharing those feelings with your partner. [Read: Intentionally hurting someone we love – Why we do this, and how to stop]

15. Don’t blame yourself

A lot of people conclude that when their spouse says hurtful things it is somehow their fault. They believe they must have done something wrong for their partner to say these things.

If you believe that your partner wouldn’t have hurt you if you didn’t deserve it, you are wrong. This isn’t your fault. You do not need to apologize for feeling hurt.

I’ve heard so many people ask what they should do about their spouse saying hurtful things, but it isn’t on you. All you can do is express yourself. The change in behavior needs to come from them, and them alone.

[Read: How to avoid the awkward tension after an argument]

Sometimes we say things we later regret. When your partner says hurtful things, follow these steps to heal and find a solution.

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The editorial team of LovePanky comprises relationship experts and real-life experts that share their experiences and life lessons. If you want the best love ad...