Emotional Abuse (Part I): Husbands Who Hurt, Wives Who Love
Hurting you hurts him too. Learn to help the both of you by ending the abuse without ending the relationship.
If your husband, wife, or significant other is emotionally abusing you, you are not to blame
No matter what an abused person has done, abuse always starts in the mind of the person doing the abusing. It is a way for them to ineffectively cope with their frustrations or it fits a set of distorted beliefs that they have learned. These two basic principles can help you to save your marriage and stop the emotional abuse—1) the abuse is not your fault, 2) the abuse is a result of a problem that your husband has.
Don’t get caught up in the thinking of an emotionally abusive spouse
There is a certain logic to the thinking of any person, from their perspective. If you attempt to reason with an emotionally abusive husband, it will be your reasoning against his. And you know that know matter how good your reasoning, he is not going to be believe that he is in the wrong. Although you can try to limit your actions (walk on eggshells) so that they don’t set off his emotionally abusive behavior, this is not an effective long term solution. The main reason for this is because it doesn’t change the way your husband thinks. You will end up having to always be careful and fearful (and angry and sad). Those feelings that you have to deal with all by yourself will make you feel all the more alone in your marriage.
Continuing to be a victim of your spouse’s emotional abuse does not help him, and in fact, it does harm
To restore your marriage, means to bring it to the point where it is good for both you and your husband. His hurting you is bad for him as well as bad for you, because it makes your marriage worse. The key thing to remember is that although he does things that harm your marriage, he doesn’t want to have a bad marriage either. He thinks the only way it could get better is for you to change. Ironically, he’s right, but for the wrong reasons. You do need to change by not allowing yourself to be a victim anymore. Until you do that, you and he will both be stuck.
Strategies like threatening to divorce, break up, or even separate are usually only effective for the short term
A common method women use to end abuse is to leave or threaten to. When women do that, most often their husbands will express remorse and usually very sincerely. The reason they can be so sincere is because their wives really are important to them. Also, at that time, he will desire to change his ways to have you back. But, he will only suppress his behavior; not change the way he thinks. This is because he simply doesn’t know how to change the way he thinks. Once you are back together, or the threat of losing you is gone, old patterns will gradually reemerge. This is a well known pattern with abusive relationships.
You can start to be a more effective and secure wife by understanding that his abuse is about him and not about you
His goal is not really to abuse you. He probably doesn’t even think of it as abuse at all. He’s really trying to satisfy a need he has. There are various possibilities for what that need is, and it will depend on his background, but it could be a need to feel secure, or in control, or to be reassured, or to keep a certain emotional distance, or many other possibilities. Up until now, when he is abusive, he is partially effective in meeting this need. But, each time, at the cost of his relationship with you.
He continues to abuse, even if it is harmful, because it meets his needs some of the time
Emotionally, his abuse scratches his emotional itch. Did you ever try to suppress an itch without scratching it? It’s really hard and finally leads to an overreaction. To stop his abuse, you will need to use boundaries in such a way that his abuse does not give him satisfaction. But, you must also learn how to help him feel like he is in control, secure, and important. You will need to help him, through respect building and love, to have a relationship on an equal level. That will be good for you and for him. Everyday, my clients are using such skills to rebuild their marriages, and to feel in love again.
Their are two loving requirements for you to have success
You must love your husband enough to: 1) see that he has a problem that he needs your help with; and 2) not allow him to hurt you anymore, while not hurting him in return. He needs to feel loved at the same time he runs up against your strong and new boundaries. That is what I teach women to do. You don’t need to know how to do it already. You just have to have enough love to be willing to learn. The alternative would be to lose your relationship, your love, or both.
Go to Emotional Abuse (Part II): Getting Your Husband to Stop Hurting You and Start Loving You