Psychiatrist William Gaylin once said, "Expressing anger is a form of public littering." Having dealt with your husband's embarrassingly snappish behavior in public more than once, you wish he'd find a trash can instead of throwing his garbage at you. Dealing with your husband's public disrespect is one of the greater challenges you can face in your marriage, and requires a significant amount of work.
Distance yourself from the situation. He is the one who is losing control, not you. Attempt to view him as you would a small child who is having difficulty controlling his emotions. Doing so will help you gain the perspective you need to resist reacting to his insulting behavior.
Set boundaries with your husband, advises psychotherapist Gayle Peterson on her website, AskDrGayle.com. Let him know that you will not stay with him in a social situation if he snaps at you in front of others. Back up your words with your actions. The next time he snaps, "Quiet, let me talk!" when you're trying to get a word in edgewise, walk away. There's no need to say a word, because you've already given him a heads up.
Speak up once you're in a private setting. Peterson says that it's important to challenge disrespectful behavior. Not only does your husband's behavior make you feel bad, she notes, it can't possibly make him feel good about himself, either. Allowing the situation to continue will harm the self-esteem of both of you.
Focus on your own self-improvement. Because you cannot transform his personality, spend time learning how to express your feelings in healthy ways so that you can handle his snappish behavior with grace.
Ask your husband to accompany you to couple's therapy if his verbal firecrackers express contempt. Marital researcher John Gottman, in his book "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work," calls contempt one of the four horsemen of a pending marital apocalypse. When your husband humiliates you in public, you may feel overwhelmed by your feelings. This creates a situation in which you might feel the need to distance yourself from your husband. Addressing this issue is important to the health of your marriage.
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- Ask Dr. Gayle: My Husband Humiliates Me in Public
- The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work; John Gottman
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.