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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer

By HERWriter
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Emotional Abuse: The Invisible Marriage Killer Photo: Photospin - Auremar

Like other forms of abuse, there can be apologies and promises to never do it again, and there is hope in the beginning that behaviors and attitudes will change—often referred to as the “honeymoon phase”—but somewhere in the back of many a wife’s mind, she knows that it’s only a matter of time before the abuser settles back into old routines.

The Profile of an Emotional Abuser

At the heart of an emotionally abusive husband is his need to ultimately be in control. He feels inadequate and harbors distorted beliefs about women and marriage, usually learned from an abusive father or other dominant male influence, or sometime due to lack of decent male role modeling in how to treat women. In many cases, but not all, an emotionally abusive husband can be manipulative and heavy-handed in keeping his wife “under his thumb”. The abusive husband is “self-referenced”, which means he only sees and considers things from his point of view; he deliberately refuses to or is incapable of looking at things from another’s perspective. “Selfish” and “self-referenced” are two different words and can be described this way: the “self-referenced person would give you the shirt off his back, but he doesn’t know you need it. The self-referenced person frequently violates the marriage partnership by acting without thoughtfully considering his partner’s point of view and needs” (Amy Wildman White). The abusive husband is also emotionally dependent on his wife; that is, his feeling of self-worth comes from being married. Most emotionally abusive husbands are unable to look at and examine themselves and why they engage in such spirit-killing behavior against a person they have avowed to love and cherish.

The Profile of an Emotionally Abused Wife

Women who find themselves in an emotionally abusive situation often have low self-esteems even though they may appear confident and in control of everything. An emotionally abused wife “looks to her husband’s acceptance of her as the measure of her worth” (White).

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EmpowHER Guest

I’ve been verbally abused in my marriage for years and the last few years my husband experienced 3 heart attacks and he is a high risk cardiac patient. This has brought me to my knees as I’ve cried out to God and shared w others but I try to live my life to the fullest. I stay with him because I’m afraid he is too ill for me to walk out on this marriage. I have support but sometimes I can hear the insanity and rage in my husband and he refuses to get help. I think he is willing to see a psychiatrist for medication but in the meantime I meditate and am recovering as I abstain from compulsive overeating which is my addiction. It’s good to express the sadness I feel because I don’t want to live this way. I’m staying for now. Any suggestions? I know I can leave but it’s difficult as he is I’ll.

November 16, 2017 - 7:14pm
EmpowHER Guest

Always blaming the husband. Some wifes are the bully of the couple and they too can resort to emotional, verbal and physical abuse

October 26, 2017 - 2:56am
(reply to Anonymous)

Oh my yes, you are so right, this is not limited to men. This area is a safe place for anyone to vent, share and connect, male or female. I'll share a poem written by a man I connected with, he wrote this regarding his soon-to-be-exwife, I think it's marvelous!

You can crush my soul,
You can burn my desire,
You can have all control,
Go ahead call me a lair;
You can hurt my heart,
You can cause me pain,
You can tear me apart,
Go ahead do it again;
You won’t keep my silence,
You can’t break my will,
You are nothing but fear and violence,
Go ahead and try to kill;
You’re the victim now,
You’ve doing nothing you see,
You haven’t won, no how,
Forever I’m always me.

October 26, 2017 - 1:21pm
EmpowHER Guest

This is my story for the past 7years and it takes a toll on you you try your best to keep things all together when inside your falling apart in more ways than one ive left 7 times and have been back with my husband for the past 6 or 7 months started my own buisiness on my hubbies schedule just to keep the peace and still be able to give to others and help others and to keep my sanity .Its a up n down slope all the time lately its control of where Im going and where and with who and gas for the one car after or if ill get the car at all .Ive been given vehicles but my hubby will drive them and wreck them in some way so were down to one car and its taking a toll on me .Everyone feels my hubby is a deterance and his control over me is so hard this time to walk away I feel trapped his parents want me to stay because im good for him but there son is so controlling and ive prayed for deliverance ive done everything I can but its never enough or good enough

October 10, 2017 - 5:21am
(reply to Anonymous)

You are so right, this does take a toll on you and it yes, it makes you feel trapped but you have more power than you know. Sounds like it's time to leave the cycle of control and abuse once and for all. You've done it before so you know you can do it, it's time to get your peace back. Of COURSE his parents want you to stay, you are taking care of him and that is their concern = but it's not your job to give up your life and happiness for him or them or anyone else for that matter. Once you stop the madness you will realize how much you have been managing and can put some of this time back into taking good care of you. Stay strong, you've got this and we've got you - we are all here together, sending you a big hug.

October 11, 2017 - 11:11am
EmpowHER Guest
Anonymous (reply to kimromancorle)

Ty so much Im planning a safety plan as we speak what makes it hard is hes doing the honeymoon side as we speak to .Im keeping the peace and being careful .Im so exhausted ty for the hugs they always help.Im scared and feeling so tired.Its so draining

October 13, 2017 - 4:03am
(reply to Anonymous)

You are in a cycle - first there is the honeymoon period where everything is fine, then tension builds and things get 'prickly' and then there is an incident and eruption. And then there is calm and it's back to the honeymoon phase. This doesn't go away and usually shortens in time so you are SMART to get going. I know you are tired, it IS exhausting but stay the path, you are doing great! I can send you some added resources if it would help, email me at kimromancorle@me.com. And stay safe, that is the most important thing to focus on is keeping you safe, sending you HUGS:)))

October 13, 2017 - 4:48am

Hello I'm new to the group ok my husband and I have been married for 1 year and 5 months, He's always been controlling, we barely get along we argue a lot and starting to be emotionally and verbally abusive with me now, He call me fat, lazy a follower and he have called me bitches and hoes before, I'm just to a point now that I'm tired I can't take it no more. Everyone I talk with he's say I'm following them he don't go around my family, it's like we're going in two different ways, I barely wanna have sex I cry afterwards I just very emotional most of the time now,I'm just hurt that i feel like I'm gonna have to walk away from a man that I've loved most of my life he's my kids father, I'm just lost someone please help.

September 17, 2017 - 8:19pm
(reply to Patrice Macllen)

When we are in turmoil it can feel like we've lost our way. We often stay in these toxic relationships b/c we think it'll get better, we can adapt to end the craziness, and 'be more understanding'. If you have children with this man, he's even more poisonous to them b/c they are learning how to behave by listening to him and watching how he treats you. As a Mom, you have the chance to make a change and give them a life free of this manipulation and abuse. It's normal to grieve the loss of a relationship, and your sadness is understandable but this is not a healthy and loving relationship - it's a pattern and it's dangerous and it's destructive. No one ever deserves to be treated like that. I'm sorry this is so hard for you but the sooner you move on, the sooner you will heal. Contact a therapist, social services, and legal help and get going. You will be ok, we are all here with you. Hugs.

September 18, 2017 - 10:27am
EmpowHER Guest

I'm in tears over reading all these comments. It seems that each one had a bit of my story. My domestic partner has outrageous emotional outbursts. Sometimes I'm afraid of him. He has same attitude w my younger daughter and it hurts but if I say anything about him being unfair he continues for months. If he gets mad he stops talking to me for a month or longer. He sleeps on the couch, doesn't want to help w expenses pays rent but gets angry to do so. He is angry at me for 3 weeks out of the month. Does not communicate, if there's an engagement/event he does not inform me and on the day off he gets angry because I don't remember. Gets angry if I go out w friends accompanied by our kids and claims I'm crazy over thinking he is mad. Upon my return he slams doors or once again stops talking to me. It's so much work to keep him content that I just don't know or want to do so. I'm exhausted !! We are on vacation and he got separate beds and kept smirking on his bed. He slammed car doors over me not knowing where we were heading but once again he neglected to inform me where we were heading to. Don't know what to do anymore!!!

September 1, 2017 - 10:02pm
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