Tom was shopping with his wife Patty and pulled out his wallet to make a purchase. He saw another guy to his side and said, “I’m only good for my money.” Patty took offense at this comment and brought it up in our next counseling session.

Patty said, “I can’t believe you made a statement like that, especially in public. I found the comment embarrassing. Do you really believe it?” Tom quickly contemplated whether the statement was true, and said, “I know it’s not true.” Then Patty said, “If you’re aware that I’m not with you just for the money you make, keeping in mind I used to work too, please don’t say that again.”

Tom thought he was being funny, especially in the presence of another guy. Pam found it demeaning—to her and to women in general. Pam brought this up after it happened, but Tom just defended his sarcastic sense of humor. But there was something about bringing it up in couples counseling, that allowed Tom to hear, apologize, and commit to not doing it again.

Initially Tom was unconscious of his statement. But it’s statements like these, that can undermine their relationship.