4 Words You Should Never Use With your Wife

First, a confession – I have no idea what four words you should never say to or in front of your wife. What’s more, the list is probably larger than four. However, I can help you narrow down the list by giving you common problems areas.

Words that hurt | © Paul H. Byerly

  1. Painful family words: Never use words her family used to shame, tease, or control her. This could be something like “stupid” or a nickname she hated. I do not mean a loving name she liked; I am talking about mean ones, or ones that felt mean to her. These words have deep and painful roots, and nothing good comes from you tugging at those.
  2. Painful childhood words: Much like the above, but from school and other places she interacted with other kids when she was growing up. Kids can be exceptionally cruel, and even friends can be hurtful by teasing past what is fun.
  3. Painful sex words: Some women do not care what words you use for sex, while others are very sensitive to anything she would not hear in a doctor’s office. A great many women have a rather violent internal reaction to a certain word starting with “c”. Whatever her no go sex words, using them is making things worse for you both in and out of bed.
  4. Sarcasm and insults: Unless she grew up the only girl with several bothers, odds are she does not enjoy sarcasm and teasing insults the way your buddies do. Save it for the guys, and treat her differently.

All of these are personal and vary from woman to woman. A word that offends one woman is a loving nickname to another; a word that means “I like you” to one woman is a deep insult to another. If you have been paying attention, you should have some idea what words bother her. You could also just ask her. Give the categories above as a guide, or ask her for a list of a few words she would like to never hear from your mouth.

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20 Comments on “4 Words You Should Never Use With your Wife

  1. I hate being called b*tchy, especially when I am genuinely upset about something. I hate when I’m upset or cranky because of something going on and it’s brushed off as me just being hormonal. I hate the word “frump.” I make a conscious effort every day to not be frumpy, but when I’m tired or am not feeling well, I don’t need to hear how frumpy I look because I put on my yoga pants and t-shirt. I hate the word “tits” mostly because I overheard my husband complimenting a buddy on his buddy’s girlfriends “tits.” I don’t like the word “cute.” I’m a fully grown woman, well past 21. Can’t I at least graduate to “pretty” or “beautiful” rather than “cute?” Save “cute” for our daughter! Frankly, to me, “cute” as an adult is another word for “well, you’re not ugly, but you’re not really pretty, either.”

    • My wife also hates “b*tchy” because it is only used when a woman is thought to be behaving like a petty jerk. I realize that the word is (originally) intended to refers to females (dogs, of course). But because it is never applied to a man, it seems to imply that the woman is an especially big jerk just for being female. If a man was behaving the same way, we would just say he was petty or snarky or a jerk. We don’t need a special word just for women, and I have stopped using that word because I think my wife is right.

    • livinginblurredlines – I almost put “cute” on my graphic. Not all guys mean it as you say, but I suspect many do. It’s certainly one of those words that is okay for some women and bad for others.

      • Lol, my husband thinks “cute” is a really good thing. Probably because I’m darn adorable. ;) He does indeed think I’m beautiful – he says that the first moment I walked into the same room he was in, I immediately became the most beautiful woman in the world to him. He actually told his friends right then that he was going to marry me. This was before we had even spoken a word to one another! And he can’t keep his eyes off of me when I take my clothes off, so I’m guessing he thinks I’m sexy too. ;) But he has always maintained that cute is better than sexy – meaning, he likes the look of sweet, relatively modest, and feminine clothes and hairstyles with minimal makeup over tight, low-cut black mini-dresses, high heels, and moderate to excessive makeup. So “cute” doesn’t mean something bad to all guys. I think my guy kind of equates “cute” with “feminine” and “pretty,” and perhaps also “not slutty,” when it comes to women.

        • Good point, Jenny. “Cute” is what male acquaintences who do not find me attractive but want to be nice to hubby or me call me. I’m a “unique beauty” in that I don’t fall at all into mainstream beauty standards with my facial features, but there’s something about me. I’m a masterpiece not everyone understands…like a Picasso! LOL! Many women have told me that I’m beautiful, even gorgeous and stunning. Very VERY few men have paid me such a compliment. I’ve heard “cute” and “ugly” and “I guess she’s ok-looking” and “you’ll make someone a good wife some day” from males other than my father and my husband more than any other description.

          I’m more comfortable in my own skin now and do see beauty in my face. I’m still terribly unphotogenic. I take my own pictures now because whenever someone else takes a picture of me, 9 times out of 10 it looks horrific!

          • Oh, I’m sorry that you’ve had that experience. :( I believe completely that unique beauty is better than mainstream beauty! Perhaps this is because my looks are a bit unique as well. :) It took me a very, very long time to accept myself because of that. The main thing it boils down to is that I’m beautiful because I’m fearfully and wonderfully made, I’ve grown to love my own unique beauty, and my husband has been enamored by it from the moment he first saw me. What marketers try to tell us about the way we “should” look – that stuff doesn’t matter! Although I know it’s one thing to say that, and another thing to actually feel it.

            Everyone has different taste, too. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as they say. :)

  2. OUTSTANDING!!! We agree 100%! We made it a rule early in our marriage — no name-calling. We expected that from our sons, as well. We decided our home was going to be a safe place. All kinds of crazy things may go on outside of our home –we couldn’t control much of that from outsiders, but within our home, we expected respectful behavior and words to be spoken in the way we would treat each other. I’m sure this has helped all of us to NOT live with as many regrets.

    Thanks Paul for this blog message. We appreciate you!

  3. Love this post! These are all good reminders of the importance of truly understanding our spouse and taking great care to not say hurtful things, even if we don’t think they are hurtful.

    Every person’s story is different… and each person brings to marriage a childhood and/or past that may have included very painful experiences at the hands of others.

    Also, we all have our triggers… words that for whatever reason, stir in us certain negative feelings.

    The last thing anyone needs is their own spouse being the one aiming such hurtful words at them.

    Thanks for the post! Spot on!

  4. Great post! I hate when my husband uses the word “nice” to describe how I look. I used to always tell him in response to “You look nice.” that “I AM nice!” It never translates as hot or sexy or good-looking. He’s learning and I am also learning to accept his attempts at flattery. :-)

  5. We actually had this discussion today since a word my husband used made me upset. I’m so grateful we are able to communicate with one another in a way so that the other understands or at the very least can respect.

  6. Oh, there are a couple of words in that graphic that I think my wife actually likes to be called….in the right circumstances….
    In the wrong circumstances, I wouldn’t dare!

  7. Amen! Thank you for the reminder to check my words before I speak. Oftentimes I just blurt out whatever comes into my primitive mind, usually thinking I’m being cute or funny. I’m going to take your advice and be more careful to not use word that could hurt my beautiful wife.

  8. I liked the misspelling of “brothers” which came out as “bothers”. Freudian slip?

  9. #4 is especially important for me.

    I also do not like being called his ‘bride.’ I know most would think this is silly. But, I’m long past the naive bride days. I’ve worked on this marriage long and hard and I’m a very mature woman, not an innocent bride. The bride never anticipated the storms of life. This wife has weathered them and is grateful for the growth they’ve brought.

    GREAT POST, as always, Mr. Paul.

    • Pearl – I certainly understand and respect your not wanting to be called “bride”.

      I use the term because some tend to think less than kindly of a “wife”. A bride is someone you love, want to be with, can’t wait to get home to. A wife is old hat, always there and there is no hurry. I’ve never felt that way about Lori, so in that sense she is not what most think of as wife. On the other hand, she had been around the block with me, and stayed with me, and that is something a bride has not done.

      Got a better word?

      • Oh, I would never think ill of other husbands using the endearment of ‘bride.’ It’s just my little quirk. Sometimes, my husband does introduce me or refer to me as his bride to new people. I don’t go ballistic on him for that…..

        You are wise to point out that wife has a negative connotation to some, ‘old ball & chain.’ I get that. How about being called the ‘other half?’…..My husband has even said ‘better half.’ He’s my better half, too!!!


  10. Pingback: For Husbands: What You Say and What She Hears : Marriage Missions International

  11. Hello sir. could you give me the list of hurtful words?

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