hibeesknees : yep. not even a little surprised.
My husband was a math PhD student when I met him. My PhD is in applied economics. The people I met from his program (NOT his friends.. his friends were other not-asshole math PhD students) were mostly assholes. His advisor; the postdocs; the other students. I did meet SOME professors who were fine, for sure, but I also met some who never outgrew the assholery.
They took every opportunity to put me down, including backhanded compliments: “wow you’re actually pretty smart: you probably could’ve done a math PhD!” (implying econ is the easier PhD and therefore I am lower than they are) to which I’d always reply: “I could have but have you seen what math PhDs get paid compared to econ? I’d say I made the smarter life choice…”. I mention this because–guess what? They’ll put down ANYONE to try and make themselves feel better. It has nothing to do with your education, your income, your intelligence, etc.. its 100% about their insecurities.
Anyway, while in general I don’t like to play dirty.. I make an exception for pompous assholes who think tearing other people down makes them big men. So here’s their weaknesses: they know they are socially incompetent, so use it.
That’s why I added the “its not attractive” to the end of my “comeback” in my first post. The best thing you can do is let them know their behavior is NOT impressive:
“Does insulting me make you feel a little better about getting rejected by your tinder date last night?”
“Keep treating women like that: it’s working out great for you so far.”
“Yeah, being good at card games is sooooo impressive. Rain man was swimming in poon.”
(Since they’re math and physics PhDs.. I’m gonna bet they’re mostly single.. lol.)
And, for the rest:
“See. That. Saying shit like that is why no one likes you.”
I can tell you, first hand, its very cathartic to straight up tell them when they’re being assholes.
But that’s all re: your husbands friends. With your husband.. I think he needs a stern talk that him putting down his own wife makes him come off as a small, small man and its not only heartbreaking he’d sacrifice your feelings just to try to impress his friends, but its embarassing to see him act so spinelessly. Because it is spineless to betray a loved one’s trust just to try and get a laugh from your asshole friends.