It is rare to find a marriage where everything is perfect. Every couple fights occasionally or gets into an argument once in a while. The challenge lies in recognizing when the relationship has become toxic and if either partner is abusing the other emotionally.
If you and your partner have had a huge fight where you have said horrible things to each other, it doesn’t count as emotional abuse. If you’re frustrated that your husband forgets your birthday or your marriage anniversary every year, you cannot charge him with emotional abuse.
So what is emotional abuse?
- You wake up every morning filled with anxiety about the rest of the day.
- You’re walking on eggshells whenever your partner is around.
- You feel worthless and hopeless.
- You keep trying to please your partner but nothing works.
Do you already suspect that you are being abused emotionally? But, you’re clinging to the hope that your partner will change and you will finally get the love and care that you so badly crave. Let me burst your bubble. Very few abusive partners have the will or motivation to turn over a new leaf because they get a high from the pleasure that comes from controlling their partner.
Some of the clearly recognizable red flags in an emotionally abusive relationship are calling one’s partner names, withholding affection and/sex, and controlling the partner’s daily life.
If you recognize some of these potent signs of emotional abuse in your marriage, please seek help!
Your emotions flip-flop every day.
Deep down, you will know that your relationship isn’t all right if your partner is indulging in emotional abuse. Instead of waking up every day and looking forward to the challenges and surprises that the coming hours may throw at you, you will find yourself loath to wake up. You will feel an inability to participate in life because you are always afraid of your partner and anxious about the future.
You are isolated.
An abusive partner attempts to isolate his spouse from family, friends, or any other kind of support group. When this happens, physical abuse may begin and the victim has nobody to fall back upon. It may sound very romantic when your partner tells you that nobody else cares about you more than he does or there is no need for anybody else in your life except him. But these statements are indicative of your partner’s desire to be the center of your attention and to have complete control over your life.
Your partner is extremely jealous.
If your partner keeps tabs on you every second of the time that you spend apart, you may well be in an emotionally abusive relationship. Has your partner become enraged because you made a new friend on Facebook, especially of the opposite gender? Does he or she prevent you from meeting and spending time with your friends? You know what this means!
Arguments turn ugly very quickly.
Just about anything can tick off an emotionally abusive partner. Simple, straightforward everyday conversations can turn into big fights because your partner chose to take offence or believed that he was being slighted. He or she always has to have the last word and can never see his or her faults/mistakes.
After a fight, your partner may give you the cold shoulder. Many a times, he or she may not tell you what is wrong and begin to give you the silent treatment. This is emotional abuse.
If you don’t know what is wrong, how can you be expected to fix it? In healthy relationships, partners talk through issues. They may not agree, but they listen to each other’s points of view in a respectful manner. They arrive at a middle point from which they can move forward and live in peace. If this mutual respect is missing, your relationship is not heading in the right direction.
Your partner is on a short fuse.
When your partner is around, do you feel like you have walked into an abandoned minefield and every step you take could lead to disaster? Then something is wrong with the emotional quotient of the marriage. If your partner flares up at insignificant things, causing you to be very jittery around him or her, then you have a problem.
You should not be worrying about getting beaten up at the slightest provocation. You should not feel nervous around your spouse. Are you being subtly threatened with physical violence if you do not conform to your partner’s wishes? Wake up!
You are constantly humiliated.
Your partner revels in constantly putting you down and belittling your self-worth. He or she cannot talk to you except in sarcastic tones. He cannot enjoy your successes and is not happy to see you grow. She always passes snide remarks about your achievements and efforts. Your partner tells you perpetually how you do not deserve the “love” and “care” that you are given. You are likened to a parasite, living off your partner’s earnings. Sounds familiar? You have an emotionally abusive partner.
Nothing you do makes your partner happy.
Are you trying to desperately please your partner by doing everything you can think of? Cooking a delicious meal? Booking a surprise holiday? Literally begging for your spouse’s happy smile? But everything appears to either disappoint, anger, or irritate your partner. She or he has little to no interest in your well-being and happiness and prefers to exclude you from his life. Then you are in an emotionally abusive marriage.
You feel hopeless and even helpless.
Abusive partners exercise control over you in many forms, from controlling your finances to controlling what you do in your free time. Victims often feel helpless and unable to walk away because their partner is too dominant. They even begin to feel that their case is hopeless and nothing can improve their lot in life.
You begin to believe that the abuse is your fault.
Abusive partners are quite crafty and manipulative. They have the ability to talk you into believing that you are not worthy of respect and affection. They will have you believe that you are at fault for the abuse that you’re facing from your partner.
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse wherein the abusive partner confuses his/her spouse by giving false statements. The abuse can take such a severe form that the victim is brainwashed into believing the abuser’s version of events.
Abusive partners may indulge in the following activities:
- outright denial of their wrong doings
- attempt to make you doubt your sanity and worth
- insistence of their superior intellect
- incessant arguments to tire you until you begin to doubt yourself
Please do not delude yourself into thinking that things will change for the better on their own.
Seek professional help from a counsellor. You can even speak to a qualified marriage and relationship counsellor anonymously for free at AskMile!