Q. My wife puts me down all the time, especially in front of our kids and extended family. I've asked her to stop because it hurts and feels disrespectful, but she won't. What should I do?
A. The Bible has a lot to say about love, honor, and respect, and there's no place in a marriage for your wife's behavior. It's not good for your wife or for you. And it's especially not good for your kids. Everyone is losing.
Obviously this is a problem that needs to be addressed, but the best starting place isn't with confronting your wife. You've already tried that and it didn't help. Sometimes just stepping back and asking God to help you better understand your spouse can lead to some next steps.
People who put down others through sarcasm or blatant criticism may be overcompensating for a deep sense of inadequacy. They protect themselves by attacking others, and may not be aware of how pervasive and destructive their behavior is.
Others use the behavior to reflect bitterness or resentment that's resulted from a spouse's inattention and insensitivity early in the relationship.
Because you can't change what your wife says or does, it may be best to deal with the issue through what you can change—you. Before you attempt another confrontation, try focusing on what you might be able to do differently. One of the main lessons God has taught us in our more than 25 years of marriage is the value of the Psalm 139:23-24 principle, which says: "Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting."1