When your husband is harsh, thoughtless or downright mean, of course you want him to stop. If you’re anything like I was, you want him to feel embarrassed or ashamed so he won’t do that again!
And since he promised to love you in front of God and everybody, it stands to reason that letting him know how much he hurt you should be very persuasive in getting him to be gentler, kinder and more thoughtful.
But if you’ve ever had the experience of your husband looking through you or not even listening when you’re telling him how hurt you are or just telling you to stop being upset, it’s so frustrating! You can end up feeling even more hurt than you were to begin with.
1. What I Think I Want When I’m Hurt
When I’m hurt, sometimes it shows up as anger, which feels safer than hurt.
And when I’m angry at someone, I want them to suffer. I’m not proud of that, but as a mere mortal woman, I notice an enormous temptation to punish the person who hurt me. The illusion is that I’m justified and will feel better when they’re paying the consequences then they’ll then see that they need to apologize to me, which feels entirely necessary for the world to be put right again.
But in reality, I can’t make anyone else suffer, much less apologize. I’ve tried many times and it just didn’t work!
And since them suffering, paying consequences and apologizing to me are not even on my paper, the whole idea that I need those things is a counterfeit.
2. What I Really Want when I’m Hurt
On my paper, when I’ve just been hurt, I like to acknowledge that to myself and to anyone who’s listening. So when I’m on my game, I show up for myself the way a mother tends to a child with a skinned knee.
And strangely enough, just acknowledging my hurt to myself and whoever’s listening goes a long way toward dissolving the illusion that someone else has to suffer or take the blame so I can feel better. I already feel better just staying with myself in a hurtful moment instead of rushing into battle with the perceived enemy and abandoning myself.
But what about teaching someone else how to treat you?
3. How to Get Your Husband to Be Your Protector
If you’re wondering what words to use to get your man to understand how hurt you are so he’ll become your protector instead of your antagonizer, here’s a secret that’s very effective.
The definition of a secret is that most people don’t know it. And most people definitely don’t know what I’m about to share with you about how to tell someone they hurt you and get the kind of response you really want.
By far the most effective way to say it and even inspire him to apologize to you for what he just said is to use a four-letter word.
Wait, not THAT kind of four-letter word! Of course it can be very tempting to curse when you’re hurt, to cover it with anger, to race to blame someone else. But no, the word I’m thinking of is not only very effective, it’s also appropriate in polite company, even if it doesn’t feel easy to say.
4. The Best Four-Letter Word to Use when You’re Hurt
The word to use when you’re hurt is “Ouch!”
I was once talking to a friend who accused me of being greedy, so I said, “Ouch!”
He responded, “Why are you calling me a jerk?” which caught me by surprise.
I said, “I didn’t. I just said, ‘Ouch!’”
And he said, “I don’t see anyone else around here, so you’re saying I hurt you.”
And I was able to say, “I just said ‘Ouch!’”
I felt so clean in that interaction because I stayed on my paper and didn’t blame him for what I was experiencing. So it was a nice bonus when he pretty quickly apologized to me for calling me greedy.
5. How to RSVP “Not Attending” when You’re Invited to an Argument
So let’s say your husband asks why the house is still a mess even though you were home all day. Instead of defending yourself by listing everything you’ve done or asking him when the last time he lifted a finger to help you was, you could just say “Ouch!”
It’s also a great way to RSVP “Not attending” to that argument.
But what if the fight is already off to a roaring start and he calls YOU a four-letter word that’s NOT so appropriate in polite company?
You could also call him horrible names, but the best, most dignified comeback I know of is “Ouch!”
There’s just one big problem. Saying “Ouch!” can make you feel really, really awkward. So awkward that you’d rather defend yourself or tell him what a jerk he’s being. That’s because saying “Ouch!” is vulnerable. Now you’re completely undefended in front of the enemy, also known as the man you married.
6. Remind Your Husband to Be His Best Self
Being that vulnerable takes courage, but it also has magical powers because when you say “Ouch!” to your husband, you’re invoking a sacred trust. You’re actually demonstrating that you trust him to be tender with you even though he’s just been rough with you. It’s like you’re speaking into him that you know him to be thoughtful. You know him to be gentle. It’s like saying “Remember who you are!”
You might be thinking, “But thoughtful and gentle are NOT who my husband is. Therefore, ‘Ouch!’ is not going to work for me.”
But I’ve noticed that my expectations of my husband have a big influence on my experience with him.
My husband doesn’t want to let me down by proving me wrong when I’m expecting the best from him. Putting down my sword and showing my vulnerability by saying “Ouch!” show in a powerful way that I expect the best.
It reminds me of wedding vows I heard about where the couple promised, not that they’d never hurt each other, but that they’d never intentionally hurt each other.
That doesn’t mean “Ouch!” is my go-to phrase in every hurtful situation. It’s a great response when you’re hearing hurtful words, but what about a situation where you’re hurt about something he’s NOT doing?
7. What if It Wasn’t Just His Words that Hurt You?
Like, let’s say he completely forgets your anniversary or birthday and you don’t get to feel special. Or he doesn’t come home from work when he said he would and you’re overwhelmed putting the kids to bed by yourself. Or he isn’t being faithful like he promised he would when you got married and you’re left brokenhearted.
How do you let him know that he has hurt you in those painful situations that don’t boil down to a single moment in a conversation? What if there’s nowhere to insert an “Ouch!”
You may be tempted just to tell him straight out, “You hurt me!” And that’s always an option, to try to make him be accountable by blaming him.
But if what you want when you’re feeling injured is tender love and care, one powerful way to have that, in my experience, is to start by giving it to yourself. And I don’t mean just sucking up the miserable treatment, getting over it and resigning yourself to having more of the same in the future. No. I mean really being there for yourself, figuring out how to soothe and comfort yourself, no matter the circumstances.
I still get hurt, and I still say “Ouch!” if it happens during a conversation. But I’ve gotten to where I’m no longer interested in telling anyone they’ve hurt me. That’s because staying on my own paper when I’m hurt and giving myself comfort and grace instead of rushing to confront or blame has given me greater confidence and assurance than those imaginary apologies ever could.
Taking the vulnerable approach of saying “Ouch!” when I’m hurt has given me more inner strength.
If you decide to experiment with this secret to having your husband become your protector, you might just surprise him—and yourself—in the best possible way.