QUESTION: My fiance and I love each other very much. He makes me so happy and confident about my life decisions. However I can't go one day without hearing him call me stupid or dumb and sometimes when he is really mad he says the most hurtful things. He never hits me or anything. Is it normal for couples to insult each other and, if so, do they even realize how much it hurts? I can dish out a lot to him but when he says one thing about me, I get furious and cry at the same time. How can we put each other in our shoes to try and see the other person's point of view?
ANSWER: Depending on what your fiance experienced growing up in his family, name calling and insulting one another when angry or upset may indeed be his family norm because it may have been the way everyone treated each other. Additionally, since you are throwing the bull back in his face, then you are also giving him the message that it's OK to fight dirty with one another when you are mad.
That said, speaking disrespectfully and saying mean hurtful things to your partner when you are angry is NOT the norm nor is it an acceptable or constructive way to express angry feelings.
You know first hand how upsetting it is to be the recipient of those wounding derogative comments, so now you want to make a choice to change the rules of your marriage.
To do this, you want to have a conversation with your husband and speak about both of you. So, try something like, " I know when we get mad at each other we go for the jugular and say terribly hurtful things to each other. I want this to change. I find it so upsetting and would guess you do as well, and I would like us to find a more positive and respectful way to let each other know when we are upset with one another WITHOUT putting the other person down. "
I would encourage you to ask him if he is willing to do this with you and, if so, you can then put a red flag in place and give each other permission to say, "Stop, you're insulting me and not telling me what YOU are mad about."
If he isn't open to doing this, then I would tell you to put a boundary in place for yourself and simply inform him that you will not be open to talking things out with him and will take a break from the conversation if he insults you.
Hopefully, he will join in at changing the way you talk to each other since you will both gain from it, but even if he won't, you can still change things for yourself.