Ask Marwa: I am married to a man who is eating away my self-esteem!

Date posted: May 7, 2012


This article was published in Identity Magazine – May 2012

Dear Marwa,

I am married to a man who is eating away my self-esteem! He tells me that compared to the women he used to know before marriage, I am unsexy and unattractive. He tells me that I turn him off, that I am fat, that my taste in clothes and furniture is bad, that my English needs improvement, that my comments lack class, and that he is there to help me change for my own good. So far I am fighting back! I am reminding myself of who I am and I surround myself with people who love me and accept me. I am also trying to find excuses for his attitude but I am always on the defensive now! I feel that I am sharing a bed and a home with the enemy. How can I block his comments from getting to me?

Woman in Danger

Dear Woman in Danger,

I am going to assume that he is a good man who truly loves you and has your best interest at heart. I am not going to think of him as a jerk or else I would advise you to leave him – as simple as that!

So this husband of yours has a communication issue; he does not express himself well! For example instead of telling you directly to "shave your arms and legs" he would beat around the bush – thinking that it is smart of him – and tell you that you are not attractive or that his ex girlfriend was very feminine. Instead of telling you that he likes blue walls, he tells you that those who do not like blue walls are not classy.

You have three options when it comes to reacting to his comments:

1)      Just ignore them! But this will only infuriate him because he would feel unheard and ignored.

2)      Get defensive! But this would make him attack you even further to try to get his point across. He would not understand that you are only defending yourself; he would think that you are telling him that you will not change what he does not like.

For example:

"My ex girlfriend, unlike you, was very sexy!" He throws this comment at you instead of telling you directly to shave your arms and legs.

"Then why did you get married to me if I am not sexy enough for you?" You say in your defense!


He thinks you are saying that you are sexy as you are and that you are not willing to please him! He thinks you are telling him that you will not shave your arms and legs!

3)      Dig deeper into his questions! For example:

"You are not as sexy as any of my ex girlfriends!" He says

"How were they sexy? You would ask in a calm voice – the voice of someone who is really trying to understand

"They took better care of themselves" He again gives you a vague, yet hurtful, response.

"Better care of their skin or hair?" You are helping him talk to get his point through


I know that it is difficult to absorb all his comments that way but by time you will both find a middle ground where you can communicate easily without hurting one another – this is why they say that the first year of a marriage is the most difficult.

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