Abuse is not just about physical attacks. It can also include emotional abuse. Emotional abuse in marriage is often pushed aside as normal.
Most people on this planet have endured some sort of abusive behavior in their lifetime. But, I’m not just speaking of physical or sexual abuse. There is another type of abuse that can leave mental scars, and these scars can be difficult to accept. Emotional abuse in marriage is not rare.
In fact, this type of abuse happens in about 40% of all women in relationships. It also happens to men as well. Emotional abuse in marriage is more common than you think.
Pay attention to the signs
Although emotional abuse in marriage does happen, it can be hard to recognize. There are subtle signs that help you discover when you’re being abused. You must pay close attention to actions and reactions of your spouse in order to discern whether there are healthy interactions.
Here are a few signs to look for.
1. Silent treatment
If you think being ignored is normal, then you’ve been abused for a long time. Ignoring your spouse is not a normal action and it can hurt feelings quickly. Unfortunately, so many of us have endured the silent treatment for so long that we’ve become calloused to it.
The truth is, the silent treatment is a covert form of emotional abuse. When someone doesn’t get their way, using the silent treatment is a way to send the message that, “I will have my way or I will refuse to converse with you in a normal manner.” It’s childish and it leads to bitterness.
2. Guilt trips
I love to approach this one because I have personally dealt with this multiple times. Children use this tactic to get what they want, but adults use this as a form of emotional abuse. Guilt trips happen when critique cannot be taken in a healthy manner.
For example, you ask your spouse to spend less time on the computer and more quality time with you, and they decide to give up the computer altogether. This is a subtle form of a guilt trip.
They wish to make you feel guilty for asking them to decrease something, and in return, they give it up to make you feel guilty. Many times, you will give up asking them to decrease the activity because you feel bad about the fact that they gave it up entirely.
Whew! That was a long explanation, but I guess you understand how this one works now, and it happens all the time. It’s subtle and it can be almost unbearable for the one who is trying to be fair.
Emotional abuse in marriage will also come in forms of control. These methods vary from person to person as well. For instance, your spouse may make you feel guilty for leaving them home when you go somewhere. This is a subtle form of control and you probably end up staying home or always taking them with you.
Control can also be seen when your spouse tells you what to wear, what to eat and how long you should grieve a lost loved one. Pay attention to any form of control that could be making you unhappy.
4. Threatening suicide
Suicide is a serious issue, but the threat of suicide becomes a problem when it’s used for manipulation. Threatening suicide can actually be a form of emotional abuse when it’s used to control how you behave. Someone might threaten to take their life if you don’t give in to what they want.
It’s difficult to break this cycle, however, because suicide is such a serious matter.
5. Blaming and accusing
In marriage, there will be disagreements, but nothing is one-sided. Unfortunately, blaming is used to take the spotlight off a partner who has done something wrong. For example, if one partner cheats, they may try to “flip” the issue onto the other spouse.
This is done by blaming the act of cheating on lack of attention, or some other “made up” issue. Accusing your spouse of doing things is also a form of emotional abuse. Sometimes one spouse may blame the other for something that didn’t’ even happen. Watch out for these telltale patterns of mistreatment.
Do you feel crazy? Well, maybe it’s because your spouse has told you that you are. Guess what? You’re probably just as sane as the rest of us. More than likely, you’re saner than most who tell you otherwise. One form of emotional abuse in marriage is gaslighting.
This is where one spouse will do subtle things to make the other spouse appear crazy. The abusive partner may discount what you say, criticize you in public and then make fun of you when you get angry, or they may just do small things to make you think you are losing your mind. Beware of the gaslighter!
Signs aren’t always that noticeable
Unfortunately, abusers will get away with years of abuse before they are uncovered. I endured decades of covert narcissistic abuse in my last marriage. It was so bad that I now suffer from PTSD and many other mental disabilities. This is no joke!
I warn each and every one of you with this information. Before you get married, pay attention to how your partner treats you, and never settle for anything less than what you deserve. Emotional abuse is real and it can destroy your life. Take heed.
By Sherrie H.