Your wife is abusive. There is not a doubt in my mind. She might not deliver cuts or bruises (or maybe she does), but the injuries she inflicts do leave scars.
I do not know what it is like to be a man living with an abusive wife. But I do know what it is like to live with an abuser. I do know the effect it can have on you and especially on your children. I know the feelings of confusion, of hurt and despair. I know what it is like to constantly have to walk on egg shells, afraid that something you might say or do or even not say or do could set them off. I know what it’s like to question your own sanity; to question or even believe that you are truly at fault; to wish you could just do exactly what they expect of you so that you can make them happy. I know the fear of what they might say or do to your children. You hold your breath or even get angry with your children when they do something that you know might set your spouse off.
I know it goes against all social norms. I can imagine how it might make you feel to admit that you are being abused by your wife. I am an extremely successful independent woman who made twice as much as my husband, was raised in a Christian household with parents who are still together and have no history of domestic abuse… and I yet still allowed it to happen to me. You are not alone. Ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you feel afraid of your wifes reaction so much so that you cannot discuss whatever is bothering you?
- Does she frequently humiliate you, criticize you or undermine your self- esteem?
- Does she try to isolate you from friends and family?
- Has she stolen from you (or your children) or run you into debt?
- Does your relationship swing from extremes of distance and closeness, as manipulated by her? Such as walking out one day followed by weekends away the next?
- Has she damaged or destroyed anything that belongs to you (or other members or your family)?
- Do you feel that she controls your life?
- Does she act possessive and accuse you of being unfaithful and involved in affairs?
- Does she belittle your ideas, thoughts and feelings?
- Is any emotional response to her behavior unacceptable?
- Do you have to account to her every moment of your time?
- Do you have to account for every penny you spend?
- Does she threaten or intimidate you to win an argument?
- Does she blame you for every problem, even her behaviour towards you?
- Does she regularly threaten to leave you or the kids?
- Does she make you feel that you are alone and unwanted?
- Does she ridicule or insult your beliefs, gender, sexuality or ability?
- Does she withdraw approval, appreciation and affection to you or your children?
- Does she call you names and shout at you in public? Does she humiliate you in private or in public?
- Does she manipulate you with lies and high drama?
- Does she manipulate your sexual relationship based on her moods? Seeks sex to make up after an argument?
- In sum, she generally makes you feel that you are not good for anything, unwanted, and a burden to everyone.
This list is the same list applied to help a woman realize she is being emotionally abused by a man. I just changed all the he’s to she’s. You don’t have to answer yes to every question either.
When most people think of domestic abuse, they picture a woman who has been physically assaulted. But not all abusive relationships involve violence. Just because you’re not battered and bruised doesn’t mean you’re not being abused. You may think that physical abuse is far worse than emotional abuse, since physical violence can send you to the hospital and leave you with scars. But, the scars of emotional abuse are very real, and they run deep. In fact, emotional abuse can be just as damaging as physical abuse—sometimes even more so, especially on a child. Verbal and psychological wounds leave a child forever changed.
- Emotional abuse attacks a child’s self-concept. The child comes to see him or herself as unworthy of love and affection.
- Children who witness abuse in relationships or emotional spousal abuse demonstrate higher rates of physical aggressiveness, delinquency and interpersonal problems than other children.
- The consequences of emotional abuse on a child can be serious and long-term.
- Emotionally abused children may experience a lifelong pattern of depression, estrangement, anxiety, low self-esteem, inappropriate or troubled relationships, or a lack of empathy.
- As teenagers, they find it difficult to trust, participate in and achieve happiness in relationships, and resolve the complex feelings left over from their childhoods.
- As adults, they may have trouble recognizing and appreciating the needs and feelings of their own children and emotionally abuse them as well.
- Emotional abuse can result in serious psychological and/or behavioral problems. These include depression, lack of attachment or emotional bond to a parent or guardian, low cognitive ability and educational achievement and poor social skills.
You do not have to live this way. No one should have to live this way. You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Her behavior is not your fault. Nothing you have done results in her abusive actions. You can not fix her. I know you have tried. Only she can make the change, and it will take more than talking to a counselor a few times.
By staying in the relationship in its current state you are enabling her abusive behavior, while continuing to put yourself and your chidren at risk.