Emotional verbal abuse in marriage is commonplace in couples of all walks of life. Sometimes it's an innocent reflexive gesture that comes out unconsciously. And other times, it's an oral blow intended to smack you across your heart and soul.
The question is what do you do in the moment it comes your way? And then, as a result of this, what follows?
Swallowing emotional and verbal abuse
Spousal abuse survivors become accustomed to swallowing emotional and verbal abuse as though it was part of their daily bread. They come to see it simply as "what he does."
They know that if they challenge it, there will be more. So, they quietly hold their own...chewing...stewing...digesting the indigestible.
Then the day comes when they say to themselves, "That's it, no more!" But this doesn't stop his being emotionally and verbally abusive.
Dodging emotional and verbal abuse in marriage
Now, the path of least resistance is to disappear psychologically and hide out inside your skin as though you were not there. For some spousal abuse survivors, this method of dealing with verbal emotional abuse may "work" temporarily.
It's like you don't allow the dart to pierce your flesh, but the fact that you see it coming still hurts your soul. From here, you suffer in silence.
Responsibly deflecting verbal emotional abuse
Imagine for a moment that you had the skill, felt the freedom and knew the safety of openly sending the dart back for you partner to own. Now, I realize that this sounds like a tall order for those in an abusive relationship.
Moreover, it is not your responsibility to stop him from being emotionally and verbally abusive toward you. But it is your responsibility to set your own boundaries and own the impact of his actions upon you.
From here, he can see what he is doing and can chose to change what he may not even be aware of doing. Sometimes batterers throw out emotional verbal pot shots without even realizing they are doing it.
This interaction pattern is so ingrained in them that they themselves don't even know when they are sniping their survivor spouse. All they see is that she has become "cold and withdrawn" again.
Interrupting the cycle of emotional verbal abuse in marriage
If you are in a relationship characterized by habitual verbal and emotional abuse, seek to become aware of your options for dealing with it. There are situations in which you can influence this pattern, and there are situations in which your only choice is to leave.
If you are at the stage in your relationship in which you have not thrown the towel in, but have personally run out of ways to deal with the verbal abuse in your marriage, then consider "abusive relationship therapy."
Abusive relationship therapy, commonly known as domestic abuse counseling, is treatment for combative behavior in the context of relationship therapy. It may have a couples and an individual component to best address domestic abuse dynamics.
Dr. Jeanne King, Ph.D. helps people nationwide recognize, end and heal from domestic abuse. She is the founding Director of Partners in Prevention, a non-profit organization committed to helping bridge healthcare delivery and domestic abuse victim advocacy.
© Jeanne King, Ph.D. - Domestic Violence Prevention and Intervention