Emotional and Verbal Abuse Within Marriage

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How do you deal with the situation, where you feel there is emotional and verbal abuse being directed at you within your marriage? And how do you know if it isn’t just a “normal” matter of one spouse disagreeing with the other?

One thing we try to do here at Marriage Missions is to persevere in hunting for information that will best help you to understand the different aspects of marriage you are dealing with. This way you can approach each marital situation prayerfully and carefully, and well educated, led by our Wonderful Counselor, the Holy Spirit, to do what He shows you is best.

Clarification is Important

With that in mind, we want to first deal with the topic of emotional abuse. It’s important to clarify what it is and what can be done about it. And then we’ll go on to the topic of verbal abuse. You can have one directed at you without the other, yet, they often overlap.

We encourage you to pray before reading —that the eyes of your heart and mind will humbly be open to comprehend what God wants for you to know.

“Good and upright is the LORD;
therefore He instructs sinners in his ways.
He guides the humble in what is right
and teaches them His way.”

(Psalm 25:8-9)

Dr Barbara Shaffer asks the questions:

“Can you identify a symptom of emotional abuse? More importantly can you define emotional abuse or identify any of its forms?”

To obtain some answers, please click onto the link below to read:

CAN YOU IDENTIFY A SYMPTOM OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE?

More on Emotional Abuse

Counselor, social worker and author Leslie Vernick explains much, much more about emotional abuse in her book, The Emotionally Destructive Marriage: How to Find Your Voice and Reclaim Your Hope (which you can obtain in the link provided in the title). Below is a video where Leslie explains some important things that you may find to be helpful:

Intimidation and Bullying

What do you do when emotional and/or verbal abuse and intimidation shows up in the form of bullying in your marriage? What IS bullying? Dr Juli Slattery says the following:

“Intentionally or not, a bully uses intimidation and coercion to get his or her way. Yes, women can be bullies too. A wife can skillfully use emotional coercion like humiliation and cynicism to ‘punish’ a husband who isn’t ‘behaving’ according to her desires. I’ve met powerful, competent men who panic at the thought of crossing their wives. Is this normal conflict or bullying?”

Read what Dr Slattery writes as she addresses the matter of “what to do when your spouse is your bully”:

BULLYING IN MARRIAGE

Two of the books that Dr Slattery recommends reading (which could be helpful to apply) are:

Love Must Be Tough

Boundaries in Marriage

As far as emotional abuse (including bullying), author Mary Yerkes describes it this way:

“Emotional abuse leaves few physical scars. Its victims suffer no broken bones, torn flesh or spilled blood. Still, those wounded might describe it as the most painful and destructive form of domestic violence.”

Additional Information to Help You

To discover what Mary lived through and learned about this form of abuse, we direct you something posted on the web site of Focus on the Family. After reading the initial article, please read the additional articles they suggest in the series. We believe they will help you to better understand a fuller picture of this type of abuse. To do so, please click onto the article below to read:

• UNDERSTANDING EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Dr Barbara Shaffer writes the following concerning emotional abuse:

“Abuse in the context of an intimate relationship involves a persistent pattern of behaviors. It is not simply a mistake, an isolated incident or a sudden loss of control.”

That’s what we’ve seen in this type of abuse —there is a pattern, a trail of persistence in this type of behavior, which distinguishes it apart from one spouse “just” trying to get the other to better understand the point he or she is trying to get across as they are disagreeing over a matter.

To learn more of what Dr Shaffer explains in the article posted at the More Than Coping web site, please click onto the link below to read:

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: The Abuse Beneath the Abuse

Verbal Abuse Doesn’t Leave Evidence

“Almost everyone has heard of, or knows of, someone who has been verbally abused. Perhaps you are involved in a verbally abusive relationship. It is also possible that no one even knows your circumstances. Verbal abuse is a kind of battering which doesn’t leave evidence comparable to the bruises of physical battering. You (or your friend) may be suffering in silence and isolation. In this article, I want to tackle this very important issue in an effort to understand this phenomenon and provide answers.”

To learn what Kerby Anderson goes on to explain, please click onto the Probe Ministries link to read:

VERBAL ABUSE

“Harsh words can destroy your marriage. Here’s how to defuse verbal abuse.”

Do You Want to Know?

The ministry of All About Life Challenges, approaches this subject by helping you to better recognize verbal abuse. And then they show you ways to avoid depression and find hope. This is so important when you feel beaten up verbally. To learn more, please read:

VERBAL ABUSE — FIND HOPE

The following is scripture, which you may find helpful to pray:

“Guard my life and rescue me:
let me not be put to shame,
for I take refuge in you.

“May integrity and uprightness
protect me,
because my hope is in you.”

(Psalm 25:20-21)

This article was compiled by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

If you have additional tips you can share to help others in this area of marriage, please “Join the Discussion” by adding your comments below.

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Comments

172 responses to “Emotional and Verbal Abuse Within Marriage

  1. Hello, I am too tired and drained to go into detail about all of the problems in my marriage. I am reaching out for prayer. I am married to a man who thinks marriage is about “keeping score”‘, intimidation and bullying. I am completely worn out from this marriage and really need prayer. Thank you.

  2. Honest question. ..being the Spirit filled stalwart Christian tough guy…able to stand tall and take the 70 times 7 “slaps” in the face appears to me to be enabling her behavior. Perhaps causing a fuss by a separation would allow her to confront her dysfunctional coping strategies? The complete lack of the Christian church to hold abusive women to account is a terrible misstep. I get preached at to continue to keep my hands tied behind my back and take it. This is out of balance in my estimation.

    1. Gary, we agree with you. There are many, many husbands who are being abused by their wives. It is an area of abuse that is being silenced by the press. Abuse is wrong, whether it is the wife being abused or the husband. But sadly, it’s close to impossible to find many articles that give voice to both wives that are being abused, as well as husbands who are being abused. They most always address wife victimization.

      We have a few articles that address husband abuse posted on this web site that you may want to read. One can be found at: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/husband-abuse-can-a-wife-abuse-her-husband/ and another can be found at: http://host.agencysrvr.com/~marriage/breaking-the-cycle-of-violence/. I also changed our part of this article being posted. I apologize that I hadn’t done that before now (I thought I had). We can’t change another author’s info… and with the ones that we’ve posted, we don’t want the info to be ignored because it’s good stuff, whether it includes abused husbands or not. We hope and pray that abused husbands will still read them and change the pronouns. Thanks for your input. We appreciate it.

  3. My boyfriend of 15 years constantly abuses me verbally. If we argue, and he happens to be driving, he tells me that if we get into a wreck, it will be my fault. He’s hit me in the past and says I was asking for it. He has since stopped the physical abuse because I told him I would call the police and he would lose his job. He constantly blames me for his anger issues. He says if only I didn’t aggravate him, he wouldn’t have punched holes in my walls. I dont know what to do. I go to counseling for me because he says he’s not the crazy one, I am.

  4. My husband told me this morning he was a centimeter from bashing me in the face. His mother visited at Christmas. She tormented me and harassed me, calling me fat, shamed me, and talked behind my back to my husband. I jumped on both of them for being so mean.

  5. I have been married over 30 years. I am 10 years older than my husband. We went years and years without ever lifting our voices to each other. Then, in 2008 I got stage 3 colon cancer and had to have surgery/chemo. I got hooked on narcotics at that time. I am still given narcotics by my doctor because I have severe chronic back pain issues. My husband hates that I take narcotics and finds fault with me in every way because I take them. I continue to have cancer crop up and just a little over a month ago had to have part of my lung removed because the colon cancer spread to my right lung.

    Not even a week after I returned from the hospital we got into a terrible fight. I don’t even know what it was over now. But, we fight so much anymore that it is pretty hard to keep up with the reasons. I was supposed to get a shot in my hip yesterday (I thought anyway) for my bursitis. My doctor told me he would have to do it in the minor surgery area, not his office and made me an appointment for that to be taken care of. My husband went ballistic when I told him I didn’t get the shot. He started accusing me of being a liar, saying all I ever do is lie everytime I open my mouth, etc. etc. It was the dumbest argument I have ever been a part of. He is constantly calling me a liar (although he has always been a liar).

    The problem is, I am retired now, sickly (and will find out this month if I have cancer elsewhere going on) and totally incapable of taking care of myself financially. He is all the time blowing up and telling me to get out, to go live with my aunt (that he hates) and her husband. This is my home too. Everything in it was my mothers practically. We have 2 dogs that are my dogs too. I’m not going anywhere. My aunt doesn’t want me. Why would she? Anyway, because I am unable to work and take care of myself financially, I am so trapped. I never dreamed in a million years that my retirement years would be like this.

    He hates me taking prescription medication for my ailments but it is okay for him to come home and drink a couple of beers every night after work and a boat load of beers or whatever on the weekends. What can I do? He would certainly not go to any counseling, I am already positive of that. I wouldn’t even suggest it or he would blow up…again. Thanks for your help. By the way, I am a born again Christian. He went to church with me many years ago, but he doesn’t even mention the Lord in conversations anymore.

  6. Me and my husband have been married 8 yrs now… have 2 beautiful children. While we had troubles from the start from Child Services because of my mother and unknown marks on my son before we married, at first it was good. I made a few mistakes, and now he seems to want to throw them at my face, call me names, such as fat and cuss at me. I try hard not to act back but sometimes I cannot help it. All the time when he’s mad he says he hates me and the kids. He is very verbally abusive at times and says words like “whore” to me. It does get worse but as per rules I am trying my best to keep it as clean as I can.

    I live in a camper with him in marriage. He did buy me things I wanted and needed. My question is if I go, are these things mine if he gave to me? What should I do? We have kids school age. I am an Alabama (US) lady who just feels like nothing I do is right any more. I beg and cry for God’s mercy.

  7. I don’t know where to start. My husband is very, very emotionally and physically abusive. I just don’t know what to do anymore. I feel so helpless and worthless sometimes I don’t even want to live anymore. He calls me horrible names and in front of the children and tells the 2 small kids we have together that I don’t love and care about them. And that I’m a horrible mother and person. He controls all the money, has the bank account with his name on it only, I don’t have any friends or anyone to talk to. I can’t hang out with anyone or do anything. I’m a stay at home mom and I started going to counseling once a week and now he wants me to stop going because he wonders if I have a crush on the counselor. My husband and I have been together for 11 years and married for 4. It hurts me so much to know how much he hates and dispises me. I’m scared to ever say anything to him about how much I’m hurting because he gets so angry and mean. Please pray for me and our relationship and our kids.

  8. My husband did not like something that I wore and he questioned me about it asking what do I have going on the reason I’m dressing in all those kind of outfits and I responded by saying “what outfits? I don’t have anything going on.” Then he responding cursing at me saying you wearing all that see through stuff (not the word he used) so I asked him why was he cursing and he said because he was angry that his wife is “showing off” her body dressing like a cheap (garden utensil) and that it was okay I could go naked if I wanted to because it’s in me to dress like that.

    All I could think of was a long sleeve lace blouse that I wore 3 days prior to that, with a tank top under it that showed nothing but my arms and some shorts that I wore to one of my family gatherings, which I have never worn because I am so self conscious about my body and my legs so I made sure they came to my knees so I just knew he wasn’t talking about those because he is always telling me that there is nothing wrong with my body. I asked him why wouldn’t he just answer me and tell me what outfits he was talking about instead of being verbally abusive because he was hurting my feelings with the words he was using? And he responded with “you are not retarded.” What do I say to him? How can I make him see how he is really tearing me apart inside?

  9. In an abusive marriage? Try praying daily for your husband. Be patient (in a safe place if needed), It may take years but God can work in your spouses life. Stay close to Him in the process. Find your value through Him. You are a precious and unique human being loved by a King! Grab God’s Word and fill yourself with it. Keep it in your heart…it is your weapon.

  10. My thing is I tend to say hurtful things and make her feel like she can’t do anything right. I’m trying to understand why I say and do this stuff. I love her so much. All I’m doing is pushing her away. She tells me now that she can’t love someone that does this. Can anyone give me a little bit advice.

    1. Dan, more than likely you “learned” this behavior in your childhood; it’s probably what you grew up hearing in your own home in how your parents talked to each other. This problem may be rooted in anger. It’s good you have come to the place where you realize this is not acceptable behavior. And it sounds like your wife may be open to giving you a chance to change your behavior and to be the kind of husband God wants you to be for her. I suggest that you go back into our web site and start reading articles in “Communication Tools” section. Begin with “How To Deal With Anger” and see if there are others that seem to fit your need. After that go into the “For Married Men” section so you can start reading on the things our wives need from us.

      You need to become a student of your wife. Listen to her heart (what and how she expresses her needs to you) and start to apply yourself to meeting her emotional, spiritual and physical needs.

      Dan, it takes a big man to admit his faults and to ask for help. I’m glad you reached out to us. Now, to change your behavior and your marriage won’t be easy; it’s going to require a firm commitment from you and some hard work in unlearning one behavior and learning a new godly approach to being a husband. But I can promise you this – if you follow through you won’t regret it.

      I also hope you’ve taken this to God to ask His forgiveness for any hurts you’ve caused your wife and that you have asked your wife for forgiveness. If you need some help in understanding more about this you can call Focus On The Family at 1-800-A-FAMILY and ask to speak with one of their counselors. The first session is free.

      I hope this gets you started, Dan. Blessings!

  11. I believe I am being emotionally abused by my wife and her young daughter. They team up on me with constant joking, telling me they are just kidding, eye rolls, attitudes, sarcasm, gas lighting from her daughter to be told I can’t prove it from both of them when I bring it up. There is no intimacy unless she initiates. I am being belittled in front of family and sometimes those at church with an attitude from both. I feel like I can’t say anything just to avoid a fight. When I tell her how I feel she throws my sins up in my face and says stop being a baby and complainer. (These are just a few issues; there are a lot more concerns and things that have gone on.) I have also brought these concerns up to our church leadership several times to be told that’s what I agreed to being married, and what I need to change, or man up and deal with it.

  12. My husband belittles me in front of family and he called me a slaggy “b” as a joke. We were making a sandwich, he won’t let me go away by myself, he threatens to kill himself if I leave, shoves other women in my face and makes me feel old with such comments. I want to go back to being by myself.