One of the things I've seen, often, among married couples is the willingness of one spouse to embarrass the other in public.
It can be a "humorous" anecdote at the husband or wife's expense, or a veiled or blatant jab, that leaves the target - there's no other word for it - standing there, with nothing to say, and hoping the moment will quickly pass.
And usually that's the best thing to do, because the jibe will have been planned ahead of time, a verbal; ambush, and is initiated with no warning and when the chance of an effective comeback is minimal.
So, just take it. And wish the earth will swallow you up.
What is the drive to publicly hurt the person you're supposed to love most in all the world? What pleasure is there in planning an attack - again, no other word will really do - on someone to whom you made promises, before God Almighty?
The usual response is, "Come on, can't you take a joke? Lighten up!" I have a pretty broad sense of humor, but I always find that it's a lot easier to take a joke when you're not the planned and crafted target.
Laughing spontaneously at a moment of clumsiness is one thing - everyone has "dog brain" moments, and when you laugh at your husband's putting salt into his tea by mistake, you can be sure that in the near future you'll drive away with a coffee cup riding along on the roof of your car. That's life.
But I've heard a detailed description of a spouse's investment blunders, recounted at a length that made even an uninvolved listener cringe. I can't imagine what it must have been like for the target.
And we were expected to laugh, that someone thought he could actually make money raising alpacas!
Maybe it's a way to blow off steam, to air a grievance that's eating away at the teller of the tale. Therapy? Maybe, but isn't that why we have therapists?
Maybe these are the reasons, or maybe it's something else entirely. Whatever, but when I hear someone making their life partner squirm like a butterfly, freshly pinned alive to a display board, there's one overwhelming thought in my head:
"I'm glad I'm not married to you."