Question:

I have noticed the word

bitch

being used far too often in TV, movies, and real life. All of my friends around my age (25) have been called a bitch at some point, including me. I also dislike it when my husband uses the terms "getting bitched at" or "you're always bitching at me." I have told him multiple times to not use that language around me. How do I get him to change?

Answer: Since "that language" is the problem, am I correct that you'd be OK with "You're always nagging/henpecking/harping on/carping at/hounding/needling/badgering me"?

No matter what you say, no, I'm not correct.

Bitch may be the second-ugliest tip on the spear, but the real problem is that your husband is using the weapon at all.

You can't "get him to change" unless he's willing to recognize that finger-pointing and stereotyping accomplish nothing.

Tell him that if there's something bothering him, then please say it. If he has the courage to say where he really stands, then each of you can decide your next moves from there.

Explain that by digging up whines from the take-my-wife-please vintage, he doesn't just insult your marriage (and intelligence). He also assails your worth as a person.

Stereotypes aside, he might actually have legitimate grievances; before you speak up, you need to look inward. Are you constantly on his back about something, or quick to criticize? If you can honestly say you're making things tough for him, too, then you need to lead with a detailed apology. Then make your case - that you feel hurt and defensive when he uses bitch or otherwise reduces you to a hostile stereotype, and believe you'd both benefit from putting down your dukes.

E-mail Carolyn Hax at tellme@washpost.com or chat with her online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.