Tuesday, March 24, 2015

EMOTIONALLY ABUSIVE MARRIAGE

EDITOR'S NOTE: This article is negative. It is about negative experiences that many people have with a spouse, a pastor, a church leader, a school teacher, an employer. You will not come away from reading this article with any sense of joy or happiness in your heart--UNLESS you have been a victim of an abusive relationship and have found words here to describe your situation for the first time. There is no way to paint this reality with any kind of bright colors. It is a sad situation that occurs in our society with frightening regularity. It is not confined to any particular class in society.

I have taken the points from the previous article and included ONLY the ones with which I have experience. These are the ones to which I will add comments.

I was married to an emotionally abusive person for 22 years.
It has been more than 20 years since we split.
While the pain directly associated with the marriage has long since disappeared, I still reel with the awareness that I was so blind.
These are some of the marks that I personally experienced.



  • You walk on eggshells to avoid upsetting your partner
    I actually used this term with her when I told her I was tired of playing her games. I never knew ahead of time what would set her off into an angry tirade, so I became overly cautious, wary, of almost anything I wanted to say or do. It took years to get to this place, but was common toward the end of our relationship.
     
  • Your feelings and opinions are rarely validated
    We went through all the various ways of learning how to express your feelings without accusing the other, but nothing worked. Yes, I had been guilty of saying "You did/said thus and so," but I learned--at her prompting--to say, "I feel..." No matter what it was or about, she would justify herself with some comment such as, "I was on my period." There was only ONE time in all our years together when she even came close to acknowledging the pain I tried to express. Again, that was toward the end.
  • Your partner is mistrustful of you for no reason
    If we weren't counselling together, I would keep the door open to the office, which was in our house. She would come INTO the room, interrupting the course of the conversation. She refused to let me schedule a meeting with another female at a public place, when that was the only time and method that would work for the one being counselled. She was also mistrustful of others, and verbally attacked a member of the Toast Masters club to which I belonged for calling the house.
  • You feel like you are unable to discuss problems in the relationship
    I mentioned this above. No matter how I would phrase anything, she would justify herself leaving me feeling as if it were my fault for having feelings.
  • You feel "stuck" or confused most of the time
    I didn't realize it at the time, but after we split, I spent the next few years having no idea who I was. My identity had been completely obliterated and made subservient to her fears.
  • Nothing is their fault
    Again, already addressed.
  • Their way or the highway
    This was the catalyst that led to the permanent dissolution of the marriage. It had shown itself in subtle ways prior to that fateful night. She would leave for days until I would beg her to come back. The last night together, she had asked me to go back on my word to someone, something she knew I would not do. She said, "Either call him and tell him, or get out." I was done.

    These are my observations from my experience. It is no secret that she has a different accounting of what went on.

    For those of you who are my/our/her friends, this was probably too much for you to read; and for that I apologize.

    I have laid these things out not to attack, nor to put her in a bad light. These are things that happened in the PAST to me. Supposedly, many of these things have changed now that she is happily married. I have little idea as to whom she has become.

    I wrote this because I have been doing a series on discernment and deception, and discovered these traits during my research. These traits, posted by others, helped me to articulate my own experience in hopes of helping someone else to avoid this trauma in their own life.

    If someone is helped, then To God be the Glory.
    If not, then I bear full responsibility for whatever may come of this personal exposition.

    Any and all comments, critiques, questions, or criticisms are welcome here. Your response does not require my approval before being posted. While I certainly appreciate your comments on Facebook, I would prefer that you also leave your comment here, just below this article. There are many people who do not visit Facebook, and cannot join in any discussion that may be generated by your thoughtful insight. Please consider leaving your response below--either through words, or simply checking the appropriate box that equals your reaction. Thank you.

    4 comments:

    1. I totally understand. I have been in abusive relationships also. One to a man who was verbally and physically abusive. Our marriage lasted two years and that was ONLY because I felt that I was SUPPOSED to be with him and it would be against God's will for me to leave. God had to give me a "sign" that it was okay to leave. I still felt so strongly about it that it was 21 years before I remarried.

      The church denomination I attended in my formative years was a very, very strict Pentecostal church that seemed to want to control every part of our lives. So that was what I was used to. It didn't help any that every time we went to a new town and new church, the rules changed. It's difficult to learn what to do "right" when the boundaries keep changing. I did not know it then, but I think that is abuse.

      I had a female friend who was exactly as you described. I've watched her with her husband and saw the pain in his face when she humiliated him in public. I wondered why he stayed with her. Maybe because when we have so many years invested, it is more difficult to leave. She "unfriended" me on Facebook because of something Bill said. After he died, she wanted to be my friend again - but ONLY if we never talked about anything political. It was liberating to tell her I was happy with the way things were.

      I've often wondered what it was that got broke in me when I was younger, what was it that caused me to try so hard to please everyone. It was always like there was a "secret" out there that everyone else knew about and it was hidden from me. Sometimes I thought - even on purpose.

      I understand your reflection on these things. I think when we're younger, we're so busy just trying to get through life with as few wounds as possible, that when we realize we've made it, we can relax a bit and and then we wonder how and why it all took place.

      I know there are some who think, "just give it to God, He'll take care of it. Let it go, you shouldn't think about such things." Maybe they've never had to fight for recognition of their worth, of their being, of their validity. For whatever reason, God doesn't always reveal the answer to us - at least He didn't to me. Maybe I just didn't ask the right question or in the right way. Though I don't really believe that, because He's supposed to know our hearts - even our groans.

      I remember when I was younger, there were times when I desperately wanted a life partner. I was told constantly that I needed to not worry about it, and I needed to "set my mind on the Lord" first, as if those people knew my heart and whether or not I loved God. Yet at the same time, they would call teenage girls forth to "pray" for them that they would receive a wonderful spouse. That was another way of telling me I wasn't worthy.

      The sad thing is one doesn't even know these things are happening until they're out of the situation.

      Do I still hurt from past experiences, Yes sometimes I do. But I think I'm like you - a lot of it is in the past. All I know is that a lot of churches can clean their carpets all they want, but they'll never be able to clean the bloody footprints leading out the front door.

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    2. Thank you, Noella. this is some excellent insight. I'm considering asking you to use this as a stand-alone blog post. I think there is some powerful insights here.

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    3. A mutual friend told me about this article and advised me to read it. I want to sincerely apologize to you for the wounds my behavior caused you. I hope that you will forgive me. I know that I lived on an emotional roller coaster, and this adversely affected you and our children.

      There is always two sides to every story; and although I disagree with some of what you said here, I know that what you said is from your perspective, and I respect your right to say them.

      However, I am guilty, and for this I apologize, of emotional outburst of my Italian temper, when the wounds from my childhood were triggered by the circumstances in our marriage.

      I am not happy with my behavior and I look forward to God healing all of my wounds, so that I do not ever cause pain to anyone else. This is my daily prayer:

      Father God, thank you for controlling my tongue so I do not speak words that wound the spirit, but words that bring peace and healing and hope. Give me words to speak to others that will bless their lives - Isaiah 50:4. I ask Your Holy Spirit to control my every thought, word and deed for Your glory (Colossians 3:17). In Jesus’ name and for Your glory. Amen.

      Many blessings to you now and always…Kathy (Hill) Bradley

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      Replies
      1. Thank you, Kathy.
        I appreciate your candor here more than you can imagine.

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