Most people who verbally abuse their spouse are saying more about their own needs that they are about their spouses character.
The verbal abuser has a deep need for self-worth. They are unconsciously seeking to elevate themselves by putting down the spouse. Of course, this is not an acceptable way to build one’s self-esteem.
The spouse who wants to have a positive influence will affirm the need, but reject the behavior.
By saying something like: “I know that you must be terribly frustrated to speak to me in that manner. I wish I could hear you and help, but I am so pained by the words that I cannot listen. If you could write me a note telling me what you feel and how strongly you feel it, maybe I could be there for you and could be the spouse you need.” This statement acknowledges the inner struggles of the abuser, but refuses to accept the destructive behavior. Friend, this is a step in the right direction.