On average, nearly 20 people per minute are physically abused by an intimate partner in the United States. Does this statistic surprise you? It surprised me. Are you one of them? Abuse isn’t just physical either, many many more people are living in a marriage that may not get physical but there are definite times when verbal abuse runs rampant. Have you noticed that we are saying, people, not just women? Both men and women can be in a relationship that is abusive and difficult. Every kind of abuse is the effect of the abuser’s inability to put other people above their selfishness.
I am sure most of us don’t walk down the aisle expecting our dreams of a happy marriage to be overrun by harsh words, ridicule, deception or even physical violence. While I do believe that the person in the marriage who is being physically abused should find help, move out and protect herself and her children first and foremost. Whether you want to save your marriage or not, getting out while you seek marriage help should be your biggest concern.
While the presence of physical abuse is more rampant today, there are many marriages that may never be touched by it. But may be dealing with daily verbal abuse and that is where I hope to encourage you all today through our Happily Married book club. We are already in chapter 11 and we will be finishing up the book next week!
If you are struggling with a difficult marriage it is easy to become bitter against God and your spouse. It is easy to ask questions like, “why is this happening to me?’, “why is my husband so rude and mean?”, or “why is he so controlling?” It becomes too easy to forget that God uses trials in our lives to bring us closer to Him. Or so that we are able to use our story to bring comfort to others later in life. When we are weak, His grace is sufficient.
And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9
Now that isn’t said to downplay the real hardship for those who are living in a difficult marriage. It is merely said to give you hope. While we may not ever understand the ‘why’ of our suffering we can have faith that is still at work in our lives.
Another common feeling a person living in a difficult marriage may feel is the feeling of failure. That somehow you are the cause of your spouse’s harsh, angry behavior. You berate yourself after each altercation. You over analyze the situation looking for ways that you could have done better to prevent the outburst. Friend, can I just encourage you to not go down that self-destructive path? You can not control your spouse. You can only control yourself. You will never be perfect and your abusive spouse will always find something to find fault with no matter how hard you try.
Tearing yourself apart is not spiritual; in fact, it is a distorted substitute for true humility and is destructive and emotionally paralyzing. A healthy sense of confidence, achievement, and acceptance with God will give you the sense of emotional well-being that you need. pg. 159
6 Truths to Remember When Dealing with an Abusive* Spouse
(*verbal or physical)
1. You are not the cause of your spouse’s behavior.
His or her violent outburst are a learned behavior. The cause is a problem within your spouses heart, not with you.
2. Your spouse has outbursts, do not attempt to verbally defend yourself or continue carrying on the argument.
Our human nature is to defend ourselves, so this seems counterproductive. But any returning outbursts that you have in reaction to your abusive’s spouse will only fuel his anger even more. He will see it as if you are defying him, his demands. Instead, deal with the problem at hand when your husband is in a calm stage of the abusive cycle. Show as much respect to him as you can both verbally and nonverbally! He may not even realize how deeply he is hurting or scaring you.
3. Help your spouse learn how to communicate and resolve problems in healthier ways.
We said earlier that this behavior is a learned habit. He has to learn how to break the cycle. He has gone so long disregarding the needs and feelings of others that it may take some time to undo his bad habits but it can be done! Ask your pastor or leader in you church for help with this.
4. Don’t isolate yourself.
You may face the temptation to distance yourself from your friends and family. Whether it’s because you want to protect yourself or your husband, try not to do it. Loneliness will only fuel feelings of inadequacy and self-condemnation (pg. 158).
5. Don’t make excuses for the abusive behavior.
Sin is sin. By making excuses or trying to cover it up only makes it harder on yourself and your children. Making excuses makes it harder for you to get your spouse the help he needs to change.
6. Remember that you cannot change your spouse.
Living in a difficult marriage is never easy. You wonder if you married the right person. You blame yourself. You try to be the perfect spouse so that your husband won’t have an outburst. There is help out there, there is hope that your marriage can see the redemptive power of Jesus. God can and will change your marriage if you let Him. That will most likely mean getting outside help from your local church. Don’t be ashamed to seek out help. You can have a happy marriage with the Lord’s help.
Your turn! Are you living in a difficult marriage? Have you experienced a difficult marriage and seen the Lord change it? How can I pray for your marriage today? Let’s talk in the comment’s below!
This post may be linked up with any of these blogs.