5 Phrases That Erode A Man's Confidence

Photo: bbernard / Shutterstock
couple talking on the couch laughing

I admit it. In the past, I've made a comment or two (or three or four) to my husband that if I were caught on camera, one would think I wasn't very nice.

Yes, I know you've been there too, because far too many of us gripe to our girlfriends when the topic of husbands comes up. 

I'm here to tell you that I've finally learned to tame my sharp tongue and condescending reactions because, to me, the damage my words cause is surely not worth it. Especially when my words deeply affect my marriage or any close relationship in my life. No matter how much emotion, anger, or frustration I feel at any given moment, the idea of saying something that attacks, rejects, or condescends to my husband makes me feel truly sad.

Obviously, what's giggled at during ladies' cocktail hour stays in ladies' cocktail hour, but you're still accountable for how you react to and interact with to your husband.

Frankly put, sprinkle a little compassion into your tone of voice when you communicate with him. Hurting your man's feelings repeatedly, even by accident, will eventually cause major marriage problems. 

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Here are five comments that erode your man's confidence — and your relationship:

1. What's wrong with you?

Honestly, it's emasculating. Saying it jokingly is one thing, but when you respond with this comment because your husband forgot to pick up the milk on the way home, I can assure you that he'll never ever offer to pick up the milk again.

Attacking someone with words is a sideways way of expressing your feelings. If you feel frustrated that he forgot "the one thing" you asked him to do, instead try this: "I know you didn't mean to, but when you forget what I've asked you to help me with, I feel like my needs don't matter to you. Will you please do what you can to remember next time?"

2. What were you thinking?

When your husband comes home and shares with you how a situation he handled at work backfired on him, he's looking for compassion and support, not some devaluing Simon Cowell-esque stab critique from you.

You're allowed to disagree with how your husband handles things, but if he didn't ask for your opinion, then pipe down. However, if he did ask for your opinion, then he's looking to problem solve, not to be treated like a failure or a joke.

Instead, try this: "Well, if it were me, I probably would have said this ___."

Keep it simple and non-critical. 

RELATED: 7 Critical Things Couples With Good Communication Do Way Differently

3. That's all you did?

Look, in a perfect world, our husbands would read our minds perfectly every time. But that's not reality. If you expect something from your husband and didn't articulate it, own your assumptions rather than spew your disappointment in his general direction.

Your husband offered to help you straighten up the kids' rooms while you go to the market. You come home to see that his definition of "straightening up" is him pulling the blankets to the top of the beds, and shoving the mound of toys to one side of the wall. In your head, you're thinking your six-year-old could do a better job.

However, you weren't specific about what "straightening up the kids' rooms" means to you. So instead try this: "I really appreciate you offering to straighten up their rooms. I realize that I made a mistake by not being more specific about where the toys should go, and how the beds are made, so next time, I'll be more specific. Thanks so much for your help though! It means so much to me that you helped."

4. Stop touching me!

Yikes. We all know this one: Hubby wants some sexy time and you'd rather stick needles in your eyes after the vomit-inducing, child-screaming, stressful workday you've just had. But guess what? You're allowed to feel that way, and you're allowed to select the pause button in response.

But instead of flat-out rejecting or shaming him for asking, respond with a kiss or hug (come on ... throw the guy a frickin' bone) and say: "Honey, I just need to decompress from the day so that I can really be present with you."

He's not stupid; he'll get the hint without you making him feel like a total reject. The only caveat is that this doesn't mean you get a free hall pass for the week: You're just as responsible for your sexual relationship as he is, so do whatever Jedi mind tricks help you feel ready for sex and then let him know when you're ready, able, and (finally) willing. 

5. You're pathetic

Ouch! Ladies, this is so not cool to say to anyone (pretty much ever). How old are you? Kids say this when they feel angry, hurt, sad, disappointed, etc. Own your feelings, and communicate them — like an adult.

Your husband just said something which (to you) sounded attacking and critical, but the solution isn't replying in kind. Be the adult and be direct: "I feel hurt/sad/alone in the relationship when you talk to me like that. If you feel angry or frustrated about something that I did, then talk to me as your partner, and don't push me against the wall with your words."

So, those are my five examples for you. Let it all marinate, and reflect on how you speak to your husband in your marriage. Is it time for some communication fine-tuning? Be respectful, be an adult and for the love of God, be kind.

RELATED: 7 Phrases Couples In The Strongest Relationships Use Regularly

Carin Goldstein has been a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for over 10 years. She also writes about relationships and marriage and has shared her expertise in various magazines and websites such as Cosmopolitan, Women's Daily, and Redbook.