Responding to a Husband’s Frequent Insults

“What if a husband was raised being constantly put down and does the same to his wife?”

I received this question the other day, here is my response:

If a husband really is constantly insulting his wife, I think a wife can provide a beautiful example by refusing to stoop to the level of reacting harshly, herself. Her respectful example and godly attitude may have a powerful impact on her husband’s soul to draw him to Christ and repentance (1 Pet. 3:1-6).

Begin with a Self-Evaluation and Spiritual Check-up

First, she may want to be sure he really is insulting her. Sometimes we may hear an insult and take offense, but that is not what our husband intended. If we are feeling overwhelmed, sick, tired, in pain, or hormonal, sometimes things can seem worse than they really are.

If it truly is an insult, a wife may need to address her own approach and repent to God and to her husband before she attempts to address the issue with her husband’s insults toward her. (This is a biblical principle for all believers in Christ. )

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Matt. 7:3-5

If she is using verbally abusive language or is sinning against him, it’s going to be difficult for him to receive her concerns about his treatment of her.

A wife will want to repent from clear sin in her own life before addressing her husband’s sin, if possible:

Once she has addressed any glaring sins she has been committing against her husband and is willing to treat him with honor and respect, she will have a great influence in her husband’s life. He will begin to develop more respect for her.

He also needs to see that his wife treats herself with respect. If she often puts herself down, that needs to stop, as well.

Respond to Your Husband’s Insults with the Power of the Holy Spirit

The goal is not to tear him down. He’s not the enemy. A godly wife will want to build up her husband and marriage, pouring the healing, love, and truth of Christ into the situation.

She can remember that what comes out of her husband’s mouth reveals what’s in his heart. It is not necessarily about her. She doesn’t need to receive anything he says that is sinful or out of alignment with God’s Word

Then she may respectfully address his insults toward her by saying something (in a friendly, calm way) like:

  • “Yikes, that was harsh. Are you okay?”
  • “That hurt. Have I done something to upset you? Are you alright?”
  • “You know what, Honey? I know that in some families, insults and put-downs are normal. But I don’t think it should be like that. I’d like us to have a different kind of family culture. I want everyone in our home to always feel respected and emotionally safe. Maybe we could decide together that from now on, we will speak to each other with kindness.
  • “Those kinds of words hurt my heart. I’d like for us to treat each other well and speak respectfully to each other.”
  • “Those kinds of words feel unloving to me. I want to hear what you have to say, but without the put-downs, please.”
  • “Ouch! That was painful. Please don’t insult me.”
  • “I’d love for us to build each other up with our words, not tear each other down.”
  • “I have to assume you have a lot of pain and scars in your heart for you to use those kinds of words with me. I want you to feel safe with me emotionally and I would like to feel safe with you. What can I do to help you heal?”
  • “I know that you experienced a lot of pain growing up because of the insults you received and that breaks my heart. I believe you are a better man than this and that you may want to help me create a different kind of atmosphere in our home where we use our words to bless each other not hurt each other.”
  • “That felt unloving to me just now, have I done something recently that made you feel disrespected?” (by Dr. Emerson Eggerichs)
  • “I’d like to ask you to do me a huge favor, Babe. Would you please help me build our marriage up instead of tearing it down with insults?”
  • “It seems like you may be hurting a lot emotionally or spiritually for you to speak to me like that. What can I do to help you heal from these painful wounds?”
  • “I choose to repay that insult with a blessing. I’m praying for the Lord to richly bless you today.”
  • “I think you are a better man/husband than that. I know you know the sting of insulting words. Maybe we could start this conversation over in a healthier way.”
  • “It sounds like you are in a bad mood. How can I help lift some burdens off of your shoulders?”
  • “Are you feeling unloved or disrespected by me? It sounds like you are hurting about something.”

Or, a wife can pray and the Lord can certainly give her wisdom and prompting about exactly what to say.

Related Verses

  • There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Prov. 12:18
  • And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them. Luke 6:31
  • Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. 1 Pet. 3:9


If your husband is abusive and you or your children are not safe or he is not in his right mind, please reach out for experienced help from a godly counselor, medical doctors, or police, if needed.


If the Lord has given you wisdom about how to respond to a husband who tends to put his wife down and how a wife could respond in a godly way, we’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!

Much love! <3


My Response to Insults Reveals a Lot about My Character

How to Encourage Your Husband to Value Your Influence

Responding to Insults, Rebukes, and Criticisms

If I Insult Others, I Need a Spiritual Check-up ASAP

Resources for Wives with Angry Husbands

If you are dealing with a really toxic guy, please check out this resource by Leslie Vernick.


  1. Thank you so much for these scripts to use when my husband uses harshly critical or insulting speech.

    Something I am learning about myself in therapy is that I sometimes hear insults where there are none. I have a tendency to be oversensitive and take things too personally. So the first thing I have to do is check my perception of insult using that bit of self-knowledge to make sure I am not overreacting.

    1. Cassandra,

      Yes! It is very possible for us to take something as an insult when none was intended. I’m so glad you are learning to really question whether what you heard was actually an insult. Sometimes, we take offense when there really isn’t a problem. That is a lot of unnecessary angst and emotional turmoil.

      Thanks so much for sharing!

      Much love,

  2. Thank you so much for this site. I came across it and need it so badly. My husband came from a home of criticism and just hard work. Lately, he has been responding concerning money. I had used some boxes for donations and he got so upset with me that I used a $2.00 box for donations. I got upset and started stuttering, something I’ve never done and I got really mad. I late apologized to the Lord and I will apologize to him tonight because I should have responded in a softer tone and tender voice as the Holy Spirit showed me. His father was also an alcoholic, I feel these scenarios are the same. I was an only child and he was the baby of 14 so this is very hard for me.

    1. Judith R Napier,

      Thank you for sharing, dear sister! It sounds like you both may have some healing to do in the Lord. I’m so sorry things have been hard. It is difficult to know how to love in Christlike ways after growing up in a critical, alcoholic home. Praying for wisdom and the healing of Christ for you both. And especially wisdom for you to handle yourself rightly. Not to think you should be a quiet doormat who says nothing and just takes terrible treatment. But not to be a steamrolling, angry wife either. The book Sacred Influence by Gary Thomas may be a blessing. And Leslie Vernick’s free resources may also be helpful.

      I hope you and your husband may also be willing to reach out for godly counseling in-person or mentoring if you need it.

      And I hope you will learn not to take his hyper-critical attitude or overreactions personally, but be able to see that those reactions come from a place of pain and dysfunction when he was growing up. He may not know any other way to react. But I pray you can both learn to treat each other well in ways that bring joy to Jesus’ heart.

      Much love!

      Much love!

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