How to save a psychologically abusive marriage?
There are many reasons that couples struggle which include a psychologically abusive marriage. The magnitude of the reaction is dependent upon the historical involvement of the individual. Individuals can only save a psychologically abusive marriage through submission to moral values that are consistent with the appropriate rules for interacting.
Psychological abuse is a form of abuse, characterized by a person subjecting, or exposing, another person to behavior that may result in psychological trauma, including anxiety, chronic depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder. It is often associated with situations of power imbalance in abusive relationships including bullying, gaslighting, and abuse in the workplace. The primary reason for abuse in the marriage is a misunderstanding of the power relationship between a husband and wife. This can create tremendous challenges for a marriage due to the proposed power relationship structure in the United States.
In the United States, society teaches men to put women on a pedestal if they expect to have a successful opportunity at marriage. Putting a woman on a pedestal is a major mistake because after marriage the expectation is a power shift from the man serving the woman to the woman serving the man. When this transition does not take place there is a potential for an abusive marriage.
Overcoming an abusive marriage requires an insight to the thinking of the abuser and the abused. According to all 323 women in a recent study, they reported at least one incident of either physical or psychological abuse. Physical abuse should not be tolerated and should be reported to the appropriate authorities. However, the prelude to physical abuse is psychological abuse.
Signs and symptoms of psychological abuse include:
- Name calling
- Insulting the person
- Threatening the person or threatening to take away something that is important to them
- Imitating or mocking the person
- Swearing at them
- Isolating the person
- Excluding them from meaningful events or activities
A husband or wife can be subjected to psychological abuse. The only way to render psychological abuse ineffective is to better understand the biblical requirements for communication.
As the leader, the husband is required to utilize certain biblical principles when communicating with his wife. According to Colossians 3:8, no “filthy communication” should escape from the lips of a Christian, whether said in jest or in earnest. James speaks clearly on this subject in James 1:19, “My dear brothers, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.” When we speak in anger, we fail to show God’s love.
We should always communicate in a loving manner. Otherwise, our testimony is damaged, as is the name of Jesus Christ when His people fail to guard their tongues. The best way to be sure what comes from our mouths is pure is to be aware of what is in your heart. As Jesus reminded the Pharisees, “Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks.” If our hearts are filled with ungodliness, it will eventually come forth in our speech, no matter how hard we try to restrain it.
The husband and wife should constantly examine their communication. They should also consider the impact of the tone of newer forms of communication such as email and text messaging. They should never allow the safety of a computer screen to lead to harsh or ungodly words toward each other. They should consider their body language and facial expressions as well. Simply withholding words is meaningless when our body language communicates disdain, anger, or hatred toward each other. When engaged in conversation, as we prepare to speak, we should ask ourselves these questions:
- Is it true (Exodus 20:16)?
- Is it kind (Titus 3:2)?
- Is it necessary (Proverbs 11:22)?
- Does it result in abuse?
Eliminating a psychologically abusive marriage requires extensive work from both the husband and wife.
Dr. Derrick and Mrs. Sheila Campbell
PO Box 4707
Cherry Hill, NJ 08012
- Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land
- Leading Your Marriage into the Promised Land (Workbook for husbands & Wives)
- Advanced Marriage Training for Singles
- Husband Leadership Principles
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Samaritan Baptist Church
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El Shaddia Christian Assembly