Tearing Off Flesh From Your Spouse

Think Sarcasm is Funny? Think again.

“Oh yeah, I forgot. You’re perfect.”
I bet you’ve used this phrase before.
Or you’ve been on the receiving end. Or both.

Sarcasm hurts your relationship

It’s a classic example of sarcasm and it might seem harmless. Beware though, you’re on very thin ice here. That’s because sarcasm is psychologically rooted in anger, distrust, and frustration. It’s one of those nasty habits with damaging consequences, like smoking.

If you are frequently using sarcasm, believing this makes you sound smart or funny, think again. Your bad habit may be harming your relationship with your spouse (as well as with other people) much more than you realize.

Did you know that the origin of the word ‘sarcasm’ derives from the Greek word sarkazein? It literally means, “to tear flesh.” The Greeks obviously knew something about sarcasm.

Here’s why it hurts so much.

Sarcasm Shows Disrespect

Sarcasm comes in many shapes and forms. The most common one is when someone is deliberately trying to make the other person feel bad about themselves: stupid, incompetent, lazy, disorganized, __________ (insert appropriate adjective). That effort is often disguised as humor.

If you Google sarcasm you’ll find a stunning display of synonyms like disdain, scorn, and mockery, to name just a few.

None of these words imply anything positive. They show utter disrespect.

When you have lost respect for another person, your relationship with that person is in big danger. The other person feels it all too well because it attacks their self-esteem and self-worth.

Some people go even further. They make sarcastic comments to their spouses in front of their common friends. Despite smiling outwardly, the person on the receiving end feels put down and humiliated.

Some people don’t even stop there. They make things even worse by making poisonous, sarcastic comments in front of their children. To be sarcastic myself, it’s a great way to teach children about relationships.

Sarcasm Invites Resentment

Often, couples are being mutually sarcastic. Commonly, one starts with criticism while the other “defends” themselves with sarcasm. It’s kind of a vicious game, inflicting wounds on each other to make it even.


Sarcasm is hurting your relationship

Jenny (stressed out): “Why can’t I ever rely on you? You forgot to fill the gas tank again!”
John: “Okay, okay, I’m sorry!!! I forgot my good fortune to be married to such a champion of responsibility.”

It was bad enough for Jenny to use criticism, implicitly aiming at John’s whole personality (I can’t rely on you—ever). John, on the other hand, didn’t even try to respond differently.

Instead, he reacted in the worst possible way.

He added yet another layer of resentment to their relationship. Couples like John and Jenny have probably never asked themselves if this behavior will bring them closer to what they want.

How on Mother Earth can this end in a good way?

You’re Making Many Enemies

It takes great talent to be sarcastic in a non-offensive, funny, and witty way. TV networks know that. But their shows are scripted. They know exactly what they are doing, and they use sarcasm sparingly, like icing on a cake.

Your marriage and your everyday life probably aren’t a TV show.

If you are someone who frequently uses sarcasm in your marriage, you’re perpetually alienating the person who loves you the most.

That doesn’t sound like a good plan to me.

Furthermore, people who frequently use sarcasm in their marriage often communicate in this way with other people too. Others then feel awkward, if not turned off completely, because they don’t know what to think.

Bottom line: if you don’t want lots of enemies in your life, then you’d better lay off sarcasm altogether. Consider that other people might not understand you, or they may even get offended. There are just so many other beautiful ways to say what you have in mind.

Your Turn

For the next week, keep a mental or written list of the reactions and consequences you notice when those around you were the target of sarcasm. This awareness alone will be a powerful motivator to change your own behavior.

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6 thoughts on “Tearing Off Flesh From Your Spouse

  1. If someone can’t take a little sarcasm….they’re usually unintelligent and have an overly high opinion of themselves. The ones hurt by sarcasm perhaps should be

    • Thank you for your comment Nants. I appreciate it. And, you are right. A little sarcasm here and there should be fun. And it is. But then, this is more like an icing on the cake. A spice to a an interesting conversation. What I tried to say in the post is something else. If you’re using sarcasm as your USUAL way of saying things, then this inevitably becomes toxic. Of course, you may have different experience in your life and that’s okay. But that’s how usually things play out – bad for marriage. Bad for any relationship. I might be wrong but I don’t think it has much to do with the intelligence. But, it has a lot to do with insecurity of the person who is being sarcastic (if that’s their USUAL way of their expression). Marko

  2. I guess you are telling me that my Masters Degree in Sarcasm isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. I used to be so proud of that accomplishment. It equaled the playing field between me and my first husband before we divorced. Now I have to find another way to use that skill.

  3. The way I see it is if sarcasm is in retaliation of, or used to disrespect a person then it’s totally alienating the people using it and receiving it, but if it’s sarcasm about non personal attacks, in other words trying hard to be funny but a miserable attempt at it can be funny it’s self, but attacking the. Character of the person is of course as you said it bad!

    • Hey Rusty, thank you for your comment. You are right. Sadly, many couples use the sarcasm on a personal level, for attack or defence. Of course, after years of such verbal abuse we don’t remember the exact words. But we sure do remember how those words made us feel. And that’s what’s troubling. It tears apart the very fabric of what’s holding us together. Best, Marko