emotional abuse

Signs of Emotional Abuse in Your Marriage

In the northwest corner of Montana, an hour from the Canadian border, is the town of Libby, Montana. It is a small town featuring some of the most majestic landscapes in the nation. In and around the town are rolling hills, snow-capped mountains, lakes and rivers. For many years, the people there were supported by the logging industry and the local mine. The mine harvested vermiculite which has a number of commercial uses, including fire and home insulation while also being used as a soil conditioner. In the town of Libby, it could be found everywhere. The problem is that this vermiculite contained tremolite, a dangerous form of asbestos. For years, the entire town had been breathing in asbestos dust.

As asbestos dust particles move into the lungs, the fibers end up lodging into the lung tissue like small thorns. When the immune system cells try to break down the asbestos fibers, the cells become damaged and eventually die. This creates dead scar tissue which grows over time until finally the lungs no longer function. The people of Libby had no idea what was in the air. One resident said, “You spend your life trying to protect your family. And you can protect your family from stuff that you can see.” What about the things that you can’t see or are difficult to recognize?

Physical abuse in a marriage is easy to see. It produces visible results. Emotional abuse kills from the inside out. [Tweet This] It gradually chips away at a person’s will, identity, and self-worth. Although it can be hard to identify, it needs to be in order to be removed. Although this is speaking to husbands, this treatment can obviously go either way. Here are 3 signs of emotional abuse in your marriage.

1. You feel like you are being controlled.

There are many reasons why people are emotionally abusive, ranging from childhood wounds, deep-seated anger, and insecurities. Many times, it stems from being abused themselves. Those experiences lead them to feel out of control and unsafe causing anxiety. Unfortunately, one of the biggest things they try to control to alleviate that anxiety are relationships, particularly the ones that are the closest. Attempts to control you may involve treating you like a child or labeling you. They make you feel like you need to have their permission before making small decisions. Many times, they will withhold something like sex, finances or emotional investment in order to get their way. Do you feel like your wife attempts to control you?

2. You are being made to feel intimidated.

They do this by making threats. Physical threats have clear emotional damage. They may also resort to mental threats. Attempts to intimidate you will involve a lot of blaming and being intolerant of your mistakes. Even when your mistakes are minor, they will be treated as huge inconveniences. Their temper at seemingly small things will make you feel like you are walking on eggshells, perhaps unsafe. When confronted, they will divert all responsibility back on you and make you feel like you are at fault for being overly sensitive. Do you feel intimidated by your wife?

3. You are consistently demeaned.

They will consistently criticize and talk badly about you in public and in private. This may take the form of sarcastic remarks or making fun of you with the goal of making you feel inferior. They will trivialize your opinion or exhibit a low amount of respect. An emotional abusive person may also seek to embarrass or humiliate you. Are you regularly demoralized and demeaned by your wife?

If you think you are in an abusive relationship, seek counseling for both you, individually and as a couple. A qualified third party is needed to diagnose the problems accurately. The issues run deep and insight and help from experts are necessary in order to restore health and healing.

Sound Off

Have you ever experienced emotional abuse?

BJ Foster

BJ Foster is the Director of Content Creation for All Pro Dad and a married father of two.

  • Great article BJ. It’s an important, but little talked about topic. I’ve been in one of these chaotic relationships–It’s tough 🙁 I love that you’re bringing attention to this subject.

    • BJ_Foster

      Thanks Jed! I appreciate it.

  • Struggling Hubby

    #1 and 2 are certainly a part of my wife and our relationship…and after being together for 15 years I’m nearing my breaking point for sure…difficult to say the least when this comes from the person you love and spend majority of your time with. I’m sure I’ve enabled or allowed it (I’m naturally laid back personality) at times but now don’t feel like putting up the fight and let it just blow over…not sure that’s the healthiest approach either.

    • Andrew Mayer

      Hey man, I commend your honesty. Sharing this takes a measure of courage, and it’s a step in the right direction toward a healthier marriage. As the author said at the end, it may be a wise move to consider counseling. My wife and I have done this, and it has been very helpful. Choosing counseling also took a measure of courage, but I’ve learned there’s no shame in getting help. If this interests you, you may want to check out this link: http://www.aacc.net/resources/find-a-counselor/

      In the “struggle” with you,


      • Struggling Hubby

        Thank you. I’ve decided too seek counseling alone and hope&pray that my wife changed her mind and opens up her mind to attending.

        • BJ_Foster

          How’s it going so far? Any progress with counseling? Hang in there.

          • Struggling Hubby

            All is well. I’m still sorting out the counseling bit and my wife has yet to show any interest or effort towards changing or joining me but as long as I keep seeking the Lord, all is well.

          • You are right to focus on seeking the Lord. You can only control your actions and how you respond to the situations God places you in. In the end, God only holds us responsible for our own actions. We can’t carry the weight of the actions of others. I have been struggling myself with a similar situation to yours. I have had to really focus on seeking the Lord, taking responsibility for my own actions, trying to love and forgive as I want to be loved and forgiven, but all while not standing for being treated as BJ wrote in this article. I will keep you in my prayers. May God bless you and your wife.

          • Struggling Hubby

            Brian, thank you for the support and prayers. I too will keep you and your wife in my prayers as well. Its a long road ahead I feel, but with God all things are possible and I’ve got to keep my focus on that each day and let things work themselves out for my marriage.

          • BJ_Foster

            I think you are approaching it as best as possible. I will continue to pray with you.

        • Praying for you & cheering you on I your journey.

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