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Biblical Counseling Coalition: Grace & Truth

Responding to Emotional Abuse in Marriage

Responding to Emotional Abuse in Marriage

This post is dedicated to the women I’ve met who have inspired me by their faith and strength in the midst of painful marriages.

I’ve seen marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. How good (and hope-filled!) it is to see real life examples, especially at a time when marriages are being attacked from pornography, homosexuality, and cohabitation. I’ve also seen broken marriages and emotionally abusive relationships, which has taught me a lot about faith.

The women I’ve met believed in submitting to their husbands and tried to do so. At some point, however, they began to change negatively without knowing it. They isolated themselves. They questioned themselves. They started to make excuses for their husbands’ sins.

What do you do when your husband emotionally abuses you? Some might say that you should continue to submit to his leadership, pray for him, and trust God. Is it acceptable to seek help and possibly even separate, if necessary? When I think of marriage, “protection” is one of the concepts that comes to mind. Perhaps that’s why emotional abuse, or any kind of abuse for that matter, in marriage saddens me in a different way.

My desire is that God might use this blog post to encourage those who are weary, to challenge those who are not trusting God or seeking counsel, and to provide some help to those who are not sure how to help women in emotionally abusive relationships. I’ve also met men who have been abused by their wives, so I certainly do not believe that only women are abused.

The Bible doesn’t use the label “emotional abuse,” but it does prohibit it. First, we are not to curse people who have been created in the image of God (James 3:9). Second, emotional abuse violates the two greatest commandments: love God and love others as yourself (Matthew 22:35-40). Third, emotional abuse violates God’s design for marriage where the husband lovingly leads and the wife lovingly submits (Ephesians 5:21-33). Fourth, it violates Christian living by denying yourself (Mark 8:34) and speaking wholesome words (Ephesians 4:29). Fifth, it displays pride and a lack of fear of God, which leads to destruction (Proverbs 16:18). A husband who commits emotional abuse deceives himself to be a king who deserves glory, honor, and praise. Sixth, emotional abuse is betrayal to God and people by trying to be like God and deceiving others.

The Nature of Emotional Abuse

A common term found in the definition of emotional abuse is control. Emotional abuse occurs when someone tries to control you through actions or words. They might not physically hurt you, but they know how to instill fear through intimidation and manipulation. If emotions are produced by your evaluations or perceptions,[1] then emotional abuse involves hurting how you view yourself and others. Over time, you negatively view yourself. You might question yourself, blame yourself, or not see the severity of the situation. You become a weary person, trying to please your husband’s unreasonable demands but rarely is he pleased.

Emotional abuse is more deceitful than physical abuse. The women I’ve met endured emotional abuse for years and no one knew about it. They didn’t even know until they finally talked to someone. (Of course, the same could happen with physical abuse.) Emotional abuse is unacceptable and sinful. It is slowly killing a person. It is also not the same as occasional arguments in marriage; it occurs frequently.

Common Themes in Emotional Abuse

Anger. Emotionally abusive anger is a sin (Colossians 3:8). In this case, it reveals a desire for control. For example, a husband sends texts or calls throughout the day from work and gets angry if the wife responds too slowly. Or, he gets angry if she disagrees with him.

Manipulation/hypocrisy. This sin is revealed in different ways:

  1. The husband is a different person in front of a church leader and others. He knows how to blame the wife.
  2. The husband starts crying in the counseling session and convinces the pastor or friends. Then, everything that the wife had shared in the past carries little weight. After all, he cried. The wife  trusts people even less.
  3. The husband meets with other family and friends to win them over.

Fear/Threats. In some cases, this involves finances or child custody if the couple is in the process of a divorce.

Blameshifting/Denial. “If you did what I told you to do, then I wouldn’t have been angry.” “When did I say that to you?”

Isolation. The wife spends less time with family and friends because her husband does not want to see them or another argument happened.

Minimizing the problem. The husband says that the wife is exaggerating. Sometimes, the wife minimizes the problem. Another instance is when the person trying to help is deceived or doesn’t know how to help. “Every marriage has problems.” “Both the husband and wife have issues.”

In-laws. Leaving and cleaving never happened in the marriage. The in-laws are the leaders in the marriage, not the husband. The in-laws believe that their son is perfect or they see their son’s faults but place the blame on his wife.

What to Do For the Wife

It is not uncommon for emotional abuse to lead to physical abuse, so seek counseling as soon as possible. We might think that emotional abuse would not happen in Christian marriages. I’ve seen cases where the husband was a church leader.

Don’t keep it private. You think that your spouse will change or won’t get angry again if you’re more obedient. Be careful of such thinking. In a way, it deceives you to think that you’re in control of the situation.

Find someone who will believe you. Sometimes, church leaders are deceived or don’t want to get involved in messy problems. Don’t give up until you find a godly person who knows how to help.

Biblical submission. This is not obedience at all costs. Yes, wives are to submit to their husbands, but not to sin or sinful treatment.

Prayer. Pray for the spouse’s repentance. If the spouse is not saved, pray for his salvation. Pray that God would protect your heart from anger and bitterness.

Trust God. It is so hurtful when family or friends don’t believe you or desert you, but God knows the truth. You can rest in His care and know that vengeance belongs to Him.

Remember God’s character. He is faithful. He is all-knowing. He will never desert you.

If someone shares about any kind of abuse with you, know that a lot of courage and trust were involved. Be careful of shattering it! Most likely, this person is vulnerable and fearful. As I often tell people, good intentions are not enough. I’ve seen friends get involved by meeting with the husband and then they are left more confused.

Watch out for complaining and gossip. Use wisdom in determining how much the person should share with you. In the end, our effort to minister shouldn’t have enabled a venting session, but a return to God’s perspective session, which gives hope and honors God.

One woman said to me: “If God allowed this pain to happen so that my husband might know Christ, then it was worth it.” She also recognized that God used the trial to draw her closer to Him. At that moment, this person who never completed college taught me about faith in a way that I didn’t learn from books and lectures. It’s easier to submit to a loving leader in the home, but to love a husband who constantly questions you, belittles you, and lies to you is a powerful display of faith in God.

Join the Conversation

What additional biblical counsel would you give to an emotionally abused wife?

[1]Brian Borgman, Feelings and Faith (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 26.

This entry was posted in Approval-Seeking, Biblical Counseling, Codependency, Conflict, People in Need of Care, People Who Offer Care, People Who Train Caregivers, Suffering, Women/Wives and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.
  • Karen

    These are good points. Can you direct counsellors to a source that deals with this in greater depth?
    God bless, Karen

    • Dutch 30

      “Angry Men and the Women Who Love Them: Breaking the Cycle of Physical and Emotional Abuse” by Paul Hegstrom
      “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” by Patricia Evans and also “Victory Over Verbal Abuse” by P. Evans
      “A Cry for Justice: How the Evil of Domestic Abuse Hides in Your Church” by Jeff Crippen

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  • Dutch30

    Hold him accountable to men of the church, which is often difficult to do, but necessary nonetheless…and when you do this, bring Pastor’s wives or strong spiritual women on board, not just men. Require INDIVIDUAL counseling, not COUPLES counseling. In true abuse cases, physical or emotional(usually physical does not occur before the emotional), control still continues in the counsellor’s office and on the way home. Loving a husband who is sinning against God and you by being abusive and not expecting/requiring a change to take place is called enabling, not displaying faith in God.

  • longnleanlegs

    Did all the counseling, individual and couple, marriage retreats, got pastors involved, and accountability partners……I have no regrets, because my ex used his Christianity as a mask. He is a Narcissistic person, and is a very sick man. 10 years post divorce, he is remarried and still taking me to court and fighting me for everything. The last remaining ‘thing’ is our 10 year old daughter….he just ‘won’ custody. Fools everyone with his masks he wears…..the church believed him and cursed me. The judges and lawyers believe him and ridicule me. Abused women don’t get the time of day or the listening ears. I tell the truth, and it is ignored.

  • mczoo

    I have to admit I spent many tearfilled mornings crying to God, praying for mercy. I got to the point of emptiness, fear and desperation that I wanted to just die, even if it was by my own hands. Yet, knowing that if I was gone, there would be no one to protect my children. I had no where I could go (long term) and I couldnt get him to let me go. I did the counseling, marriage counseling, got counseling from our pastor. My husband told the pastor that I criticize him. My pastor told me to stop being critical of him or he’s going to kill me and he needed to stop or I’m gonna leave. Needless to say, I was crushed. What my husband considered me being critical was me telling him he needed anger management because I couldn’t stand how he would lunge at us with his fists, throw things, punch holes in walls and doors and say terrible things to us. You would think that we are divorced. No, we are not. I am one of the lucky ones in that he did change. Even if it took 12 years of blood sweat and tears. I have to heal. I have my good days (where I like him) and my bad days (where I hate him). The bitterness mixed with forgiveness I feel is confusing and frustrating and a process. Its not only my healing that I have to work on constantly, but my kids’. They (especially one child) and my husband still struggle with healing their relationship which I feel is at times irreparable. I feel that as long as my kids can heal and be stronger from this experience, God can be glorified and I do my best to guide them in the direction of being better and not bitter.

  • Sarah McKinnon Moss speaks to the issue of faith-based abuse intervention and prevention.

    I was in an emotionally abusive marriage for years, I didn’t recognize it until it started to turn physical towards our young children. I spent many hours in prayer and believed that maybe it was my role/lot in life to be abused, that my Christian duty was to grin and bear it… God spoke to me in that moment and reminded me that HE suffered abuse, HE accepted ridicule and shame so that I didn’t have to. Malachi tells us that God hates violence against women and children.

    I did some studying and realized that divorce is a gift God gave us “because of the hardness of {our} hearts”. When a spouses heart is hard towards the one they pledged to love always and their children, God gave us divorce so we would have a way of escape.

    My sister died at the hands of her husband who, for 18 years, emotionally abused her. The first day he hit her, he killed her. Emotional abuse is as dangerous and as deadly as any other type of abuse, sometimes more so because you don’t see the danger until it’s happened.

  • FaithHopeLove

    I lived in such a marriage for 17 years, and still endure periodic abuse in various forms, though he finally abandoned us nearly a year ago (after first securing my replacement).

    Biblical counselors repeatedly failed us both over the years, and most likely made our marriage worse rather than better with a variety of surface quick-fixes that didn’t get to the heart of the matter. I read many books, followed the advice of many teachers who counselled me to submit more, trust God more, love more, serve more, forgive more, stop my own sinning more etc etc etc….while addressing very little of the real problem, which was the choices he continued to make while denying he did the things he did (and leaving me to clean up the wreckage he left behind). He lied, manipulated, and charmed his way into painting me as the problem and himself as the victim…it was if the marriage itself was of more value to the pastors than the people in the marriage; the marriage must be preserved, no matter what the cost or collateral damage to the children, or God’s reputation would somehow suffer….

    The harder I tried to make our marriage work, the worse his private behavior became; it wasn’t until I turned in desperation to others outside the church and starting learning self-respect and how to stand up for myself that he recognized the end of his reign of terror was near.

    In the end, after it all fell apart, while the members of my local church were a great source of comfort and assistance for me and my family, those trained to counsel shied away from knowledge of what really happened in my home. By that point, I had lost hope in finding answers or help from pastoral counseling, and instead turned to others outside the church during my greatest need.

    Secular counseling (with a young Christian lady) at a local domestic violence shelter helped me through the roughest patches as I began the transition from a worn-out, isolated homemaker with little confidence and no college degree, to a single working parent of two teens, trying to move forward and begin to heal from the years of mistreatment.

    I’m not completely free yet of this man who still takes pleasure in hurting us all while denying responsibility for his choices and refusing help for his own issues. I still must face divorce at some point, but I have found much comfort and peace from help I know God has provided me at critical moments during this year of renewal.

    God is my husband now and I desire no other; His faithfulness has shown itself in thousands of ways over the years….My trust and faith in God has deepened and strengthened a great deal over this past year, while my faith in the institution of the church as it exists in America today has all but vanished. And that, I am finding, is not a bad thing at all.

    Perhaps if Biblical counselors focused much less on the sin that Christ died to free us from, and more on who God says we already are today, the church members would stop sinning so much (while hiding their shame), finally learn how to take off the masks we hide behind, and rest in our true identity as God’s own beloved children.

    • Sunstripe

      Thank you for sharing. I have just left an emotionally abusive relationship that has lasted 20 years – after finally realizing what is happening isn’t love, and I don’t have to put up with it any more. It’s very fresh (yesterday) but I am trusting that God will hold me and my 2 kids up as we move forward into a new life.

    • cookie

      Amen! perfectly stated, thank you.

  • unboundandcalled

    I pray that no one believes that their submission to emotional, physical, spiritual or other abuse is the road to an abuser coming to Christ. Too many of us believed that to destruction, murder, and the waste of lives. Also children are warped as they grow up left in such an environment.

    Thank you for expressing some very good thoughts.

  • lovedandcalled

    Thank-you for this timely article! I have been married over 5 years, and the first 4.75 were filled with emotional abuse. I was yelled at, cursed, constantly criticized, blamed for everything that went wrong & for all of his anger (if I had just done ____, he wouldn’t have gotten angry). In my confusion, I kept trying harder to be the perfect Christian wife. Things just got worse. He started pushing me, threatening to punch my face in, throwing things, until I would have to leave the house. Finally, when my health hit an all-time low from the constant stress, and I started thinking of suicide (except I knew I needed to live for my 2 little kids’ sake), and I started feeling a great deal of internal anger – I woke up & started listening to a dear friend who’d been trying to tell me about my husband’s personality disorder. Denial is huge for women in abusive relationships. To break through it is one of the hardest & best things you’ll ever do.

    I have to say that our marriage is much different today – not because I submitted more, prayed more, suffered more, but because I finally started seeing God’s perspective of my life, and walking in it. God hates violence toward the vulnerable, and oppression of any kind. He values me. He cares about my feelings. He brings a sense of peace & adequacy, not a sense of constant failure. He doesn’t put me down, but died to lift me up to constant fellowship with Him. He is quietness, rest, grace, encouragement & endless love. He has not designed our bodies to live with emotional abuse. Ultimately I did have a choice, and when I realized that my silence & “submission” was actually enabling abuse, I begged God for wisdom to help me wisely, kindly stop this incredibly harmful cycle.

    And so – I contacted a counselor who specializes in emotionally abusive marriages. (pray & google!) I packed up the car & headed across the country with my two kids, toward the counselor’s office. I told my husband that if he wants to have us come back home & continue with him in full-time ministry, he will have to meet us in the counselor’s office. I quietly, firmly explained emotional abuse & the damage it has done in our relationship, & that I was no longer willing to tolerate it. He yelled, screamed & threatened me. He tried to get others to convince me to come back, but I kept driving & firmly repeating that I will no longer tolerate any type of abuse. He actually did fly across country, took intensive counseling & began to see the chaos his anger had created. Restoration took weeks, as we would move one step forward, one step back. But several counselors & several months later, I returned home to a very different relationship. He has really been trying hard to control his anger & be more calm & kind with all of us. Believe it or not, he is more in love with me than he has ever been! I know he’s come to respect me as his equal, and a woman to be reckoned with. Things aren’t perfect – humans don’t completely change overnight! I still get weary of being on constant alert for the mind games, the subtle accusations & put-downs – and of being ready to nip them in the bud. But the sooner I speak the truth, the sooner the issue gets dealt with.

    So I’ve learned a lot of things. God calls us to kindness, but that does not mean ignoring sin or allowing hypocrisy to continue unchallenged. Part of both kindness & being a helper to our husband is insisting that our Christian husbands become what God wants them to be.

    We are equal partners, and therefore equally responsible for a continually chaotic home life. Once our husbands realize we will choose to live alone rather than live in endless chaos, they are faced with the effects of their sin on the family. Is it better to keep the marriage “intact” with constant hidden chaos & abuse? Well, is that being honest? Doesn’t God hate lying? Abuse is not God’s heart for marriage, prevents true intimacy, and I believe causes huge damage for any children involved. If there needs to be a temporary separation (and this is very likely), then so be it. It is only facing the reality of where the marriage has been in secret…. and when we live in truth, God can begin to heal us.

    So many wonderful things have happened in my husband’s heart in the last few months, that would NEVER have happened had I not confronted him about his abuse & refused to tolerate more. I could write pages on that, but many times I just cry with gratitude as I see God changing & using Him in much deeper ways.

    Please ladies – you do have a choice about the kind of life you live. Take care of yourself first so you can love others well. When you respect yourself, others automatically begin to respect you too. No woman deserves to live in abuse. The sooner you disrupt the cycle, the sooner it will stop. Move decisively, and create a meaningful intervention that will stop the cycle for good.

    God has worked tremendously in our marriage, but the change came once I was willing to face reality, confront abuse, and pay whatever price I needed to pay to have a different atmosphere in our home.

    • cookie

      Thank you I know what I must do.

    • Sally

      How did you financially afford to have all of you pick up and go cross-country? Where did you and the children live for the month? What about your husband’s job?

  • M.H.

    I have a fiance that recently took off after 2 yrs. We got along excellent and then he started a new job, we saw less and less of eachother and one day he just left stating he could not show the sensitive side of him. he continued to help me with bills but i had no idea where he was or where the vehicle that was in both of our names was. he was very decietful and it felt as if he was just keeping me in his back pocket until only the Lord knows when. The pain I felt after he left drive me to the doctor who then gave me zoloft and xanax. after that i decided the lies were going to stop, it was literally killing me, i had not eaten in 14 days, lost 13 lbs in those 14 days. i finally told him to come get the rest of his stuff….this was after i had promised him and myself that I wouldnt give up on him. I just hope I made the right decision.

  • Paul Kranz

    One of my biggest challenges as a Christian marriage coach is to get past the years of hurt that a non-leader husband has caused his wife. On too many ocassions, I have been unable to help a couple revive the flame of romantic love for no other reason than the wife is too emotionally hurt to do the things she must do to have the marriage she has always wanted.

    • Jennifer

      So, how do I get past that hurt? After 35 years of marriage he found another 22 year younger sexy woman. He says that he still loves her but God commands him to work on loving me. I feel like an a obligation not love

      • Paul Kranz

        Start with knowing that you can hurt people too. Realize that hurt people can’t help but go around and hurt other people. Confront your husband with how you feel. Forgive him whether he asks for it or not. Go from being a victim to being a survivor. Establish yourself as a survivor rather than a victim. Desire his happiness even if it doesn’t include you.

    • Marriage is an empty Box

      Hi Paul,

      As a man I have always provided for my wife because I thought that is what God place us here to do. I also figured that the wife was also to help. I wish to state I believe, that no one every seeks to enter a relationship that will fail. But what I have come to realize is that people usually marry for the wrong reasons and God will usually be pointing out the reason they should not and yet they still enter only to realise the sin of disobedience through the marriage. However, this are even more complicated because now you have made a vow before the Lord which is until death. I have experienced where I heard that still small voice saying not to marry my wife and my mother had also told me, but I ignored. I am a christian and my wife is also a christian,we attended the same church etc. But she has always said she believed differently to me and I do not intend to cast negative aspersions on her faith but it bothered me and enough for us to discuss it repeatedly. I became a confused man. not knowing which way to turn and other things crept in because of this confusion. Not adultery nor fornication but the mere fact that she refused to allow me to see the woman that I fell in love with. I was controlled and barked at. I was good enough to hear what she had to say, but i feared to speak my feelings or hurt to her because of the backlash. I was so depressed and numb that I could not even celebrate our anniversaries nor birthdays. I tried harder by doing more chores and helping in the home in except for cooking and that was nothing, all she wanted was to be taken out. even though i felt so down she still wanted me to take her out and act as if i was romantically attracted to her. How do you do that? We spoke frankly about what was going on. We had financial issues I asked her to sit with me she has not sat yet. The children I manage them each and every day she has only said twice in the five years let me manage them for you and you take a break. anyway she has left the marriage, but she is still trying to control me. I am ridden with guilt before God because my marriage has failed.

      • Paul Kranz

        There has never been a wife who could resist her husband while he was meeting her most important emotional needs.
        It appears to me that in your provision for her you neglected to show her loving care in the areas she needed it most.
        Don’t feel guilty. Do something about it. Just ask her, “In what ways have I neglected to show you caring love?” and get back to doing what you did in the beginning that made her say, “Yes!” at first. You can do it!!


    I just wanted to make a quick point here. I know that often times we focus on the women of abused relationship, and its hard to see the wife of a marriage as the abusive one. Sadly, this isn’t the case and many men just stay silent. For so many reasons we stay silent. For me one of those reasons has been because it is my “job” as her husband to protect her.
    I have been isolated, called names, hit, and all affection has been torn from me. She wont let me touch her, and she wont touch me. Everything I do is “wrong” and then she turns the tables on me and tells me that I’m the abusive one. She expects me to do everything perfectly, and my manerisms must be flawless at all times, and then, if shes in the mood, she may warm up to me enough to give me a brief hug.
    I don’t want to rant too much. I more want to know what is the duty of a Christian male when it comes to an abusive wife.
    Yours in Christ,

    • bryanb

      Eljay – our issues are much more subtle, but I would love to hear more direction on how to best lead an abusing wife. Not only do I feel as if I am the target of her emotional manipulation and control, I also feel a great sense of failure when i look at my “role” as a Godly husband and father.

    • Markus

      Eljay, just a few questions for thought. Did you give your wife the emotional security she needed? Many times when a wife withdraws there are unresolved issues in the marriage. When there is unresolved hurt, I have come to realize that it is difficult for a wife to open up as a defense mechanism. Were her concerns heard? This behavior is never right, but most of the time there’s an underlying issue that isn’t faced within a marriage. The thing husbands and wives both need to do is search themselves to see how each contributes to the problems/behavior. They must both be willing to admit their failures and be willing to discuss them without fear of retribution. They must feel safe in their marriage, that their spouse is going to be there through the valley. As the head, did you lead in prayer and devotion? I’m not undermining what you say by no means, but each must take responsibility for the issues. It sounds like you both were not getting needs met by the other. As for the duty of the christian male, you must pray for a God to lead you. As each of you pray (providing both are christians) as God to help you become the person YOU need to be to each other. When you do this it will cause the other to

      • Markus

        become who they need to be.

      • JackieD

        Markus, Your words sound like great advice but mask the issue and worsen the confusion the victim is already going through. When you live with an abusive person, you already carry so much guilt for somehow not doing enough for the abuser otherwise things would be better. I know you did not mean to insinuate this and you want to help. Victims wish “fixing” a relationship could be so easy. I learned through the years that there is no excuse for someone to feel they have a right to unload hate and anger on you and then make it your fault. You sound like a very Biblically knowledgable person that has a heart for God and I know it is hard to believe there are Christians out there that would be so messed up as to intentionally abuse their spouse and then deny it or blame shift. I have found that there is a lack of maturity with abusers and it is like trying to reason with a 2 year old having a tantrum. The scary thing is their size is that of an adult not a small 2 year old and they lie and do not admit to the abuse so it continues at any moment for any reason. It’s like living on a mine field. A week goes by with no explosion and then BOOM. By the abuser hiding behind lies and getting the support of Pastors who somehow turn the victim into the problem leads the victims to mentally unhealthy thoughts and confusion. What is black and white is made to be so many areas of gray. Our Christian brothers and sisters in Christ need to support the victims by listening, believing, and encouraging the victim to set boundaries that includes leaving to a safe environment so the abuser knows their attacks are no longer an option or acceptable. Then God through His church can help the victim heal from the mental scars to become a survivor that can be used by God for His glory.

  • FreedomFighter

    This was absolutely amazing!! I wish I had this article years ago when I was in an emotionally abusive marriage. That was one of the hardest things I’ve ever happened to experience, partly because I had no clue what was happening to me. Thank you for writing such a great article…even years after it happened this still helped me tremendously. God Bless

  • BTSum13

    I agree with all of this. The only thing I would add is that sometimes it actually is the wife doing all of the emotional abuse, the manipulation, and continuing to not tell the truth, and even when caught in a lie, she continues to defend her lies even though more than one person has direct knowledge that the opposite was in fact the truth in many instances.

    An example of the wife being emotional abusive and manipulating the situation is as follows: A couple got married when the husband was temporarily unemployed (the husband has been in IT sales), and one week after marriage, in an effort to force the couple to move, the wife asked the husband what he would do if he could not pay the mortgage in an upcoming month. The husband, who has still never once asked for one penny from the wife (even though the wife makes well over six-figures in base compensation), asked why she was asking. The wife responded by saying that they could lose the house. The husband first said that after being unemployed a couple of times in the last couple of years, it is a reality that he has had to deal with before, but he stated that he has still never missed a mortgage payment. Then the husband explained that after saying that, he took a step back and thought for a moment, and then he asked his wife if she was saying that if he had no means by which to pay the mortgage that she would not assist financially. And the wife did not respond for way too long, but when she finally did, she said no and she said she had debt to pay off and she needed to save. Well, it turns out that the debt she was referring to was not actually debt. Instead, the debt she was referring to was actually her moving costs after moving to the same city to be with her fiancé and soon-to-be and now husband, and her company was paying all of her moving expenses. Anyway, the couple said that after a couple of hours had passed after the wife said this to the husband, not only did the wife not apologize for what she had said to her husband, she got physical with her husband, first slapping him hard, and then closed-fist punching him in the face, which stunned the husband. This instance occurred one week after the couple was married! Interestingly, even though the wife has been physically abusive, which again started 1 week after marriage, she does not give any indication that she takes responsibility for her actions. Instead, her focus is what the husband said to her a couple of hours after she hit him. A couple of hours after she hit her husband, the husband said to her that if this is happening one week after marriage, everything in his body is telling him to run away as far away as possible and as fast away as possible (which honestly seems reasonable). And ever since this incident, the wife’s focus is not making amends for literally hurting the husband but instead that the husband did not immediately apologize to her for saying what he said after she hit him. Further, the wife starts crying and said that what the husband said to her (referring to how he said that he should be running away from her after she hit him since it occurred one week after marriage) so deeply hurt her. By doing this, what the wife is in effect doing is minimizing the severity of her actions, not taking responsibility of her actions, and worse, deflecting blame onto the husband. Even worse is that the wife then starts saying that it was the husband’s aggression that has gone too far and even said that she was backing up when she hit her husband, which does not seem possible as she hit him that hard.

    In another incident, the wife began by pulling the husband’s head and neck, then she tried to hit him again, but the husband blocked her fist and after catching her fist, he says he pushed her with his hand on her fist onto the bed and walked away. Then she physically jumped on the husband who was standing at the time and not expecting her to jump on him, and she started hitting him. In this incident, the husband was wearing his glasses at the time and his glasses were pulled down off of his face and were thrown down and broken. The wife denies breaking his glasses and said that his glasses were not pulled down from his face, but instead, she said his glasses were pushed up over his head. So, the husband said ok, they were pushed over his head, but said she still broke his glasses. She again denies this and said that his glasses fell off his face because her face and his face rubbed together. The husband then said that does not make sense because if his glasses simply fell off of his face, his glasses would not have broken like that. For them to break like that, he said, they had to have been thrown down. The wife denies throwing his glasses down and still says that their faces rubbing together caused his glasses to fall.

    Then in an effort to remove himself from the situation, the husband said he was going to take the dogs for a walk, but when the wife sees the husband at the door with his dog and her dog, she walks over to him, pushes him away from her dog and does not allow him to take her dog for a walk. So, the husband opens the door to take his dog for a walk, but she will not allow him to close the door by blocking the door. He said that she let go of the door and the door slammed. When the door slammed shut, he said his wife followed the husband out onto the front porch yelling at him that he intentionally tried to cut off her fingers by slamming the door shut. So, the husband took his dog for a walk, and during his walk, he spoke with his parents about how he was now scared of what his wife might do. He said that he told his parents that he actually feared for his safety because she gets so mad and angry and has already been physically abusive with him and also because she does not tell the truth, or manipulates the truth, and will tell complete lies to shift all blame to him. The husband said that he told his parents that he seriously thought she may have been trashing the house while he was on his walk, and then he told his parents that he feared that since she is not telling the truth and shifting all blame onto him that she will have him arrested or take out a restraining order against him. Then the husband said that when he got back to the house, she was standing just inside the door, and the husband said that the wife said to him to that she fears for her safety and does not feel comfortable at the house with him and that his aggression had gone too far. Upon hearing that, the husband said that he was in disbelief, and replied to the wife saying let’s not forget that she hit him and not the other way around. The wife responds by saying again that his aggression has gone too far and that the husband had intentionally tried to cut off her fingers by slamming the door shut. And then the wife, who had already packed up her car with clothes, essentials, and her dog and two cats, while the husband was walking his dog, left.

    Now, the husband says he is really scared, and he said that he thought about calling the police, but didn’t because he feared that the police would simply arrest him because he has heard of situations in which the husband is arrested anyway, even with evidence showing the woman abusing the man.
    Furthermore, the husband said that he is definitely now afraid that she will manipulate the truth and completely lie to take out a restraining order against him (unjustifiably) or even have him arrested, with the purpose to shift all blame to the husband.

  • Pastor M

    I’m a pastor and husband of 25 years. For a good 15-20 of those years I was emotionally and verbally abused by my wife. She came from a very dysfunctional family where the father used verbal abuse. She would curse and say horrible things in fits of rage. She did this in front of our kids, neither of which are in church or serving God today. For most of that time sex was also a reward/punishment. I was often deprived sexually and romantically. I got tempted by porn. I developed high blood pressure and depression.
    For many years I asked that we go to counseling and she refused because she didn’t have time. Finally when the nest was empty I said either we go to counseling or I’m going to leave you.
    Amazing how a little accountability to an outside authority can straighten out a persons behavior. She changed drastically after being confronted and counseled by a professional.
    She still has her moments of cursing and rage, but nothing like before. I pray for her and choose to love her but I struggle with regret over wasted years and kids who do not respect our faith.

  • amy

    “I’ve seen marriages that reflect Christ and the Church: husbands lovingly leading their homes and wives lovingly submitting to their husbands. ”
    This was posted in 2013, not a century ago. A relationship where the individuals involved are not equals is a relationship that is doomed to a harmful power dynamic which, in some cases, can exacerbate abuse in order to maximize that power for one partner at the cost of minimizing the power of the other partner. It is absurd (among other things — including misogynistic) that you should recommend that one partner should “submit” to the will of the other. Goodness.


    This post has given me a bit of slight hope. Im not married, according to the bible i am only betrothed. me and my betrothed man have been together for 1 1/2 years. during this time we both have expressed much anger. i have admitted that my anger comes from the house full of dominant woman that i grew up in. i admitted that i am not used to submissiveness because that is not how i was raised but something in me tells me that i am to be under a man. anywho this man of mins has emotionally and physically abused me.

    a good example is that the bible says that if a woman is to learn anything, she is to ask her husband at home. i ask my man some questions at home and he throughs a fit or huffs and puffs, calls me stupid; simply because i do not listen which is why i do not understand and have a question. WHAT? now i know that sounds very simple minded but its what happens. well anyways, being that i was raised to be dominant, i become hurt and angry at the same time. this causes many more issues to come about.

    now there were times where i would become silent and submissive, he would still disrespect me and not care for my well being.
    Just to think that i am 18 years old, no children, and have always had trouble with weight (stayed in the 90 lb range). i finally reached 107 lbs in april, just to find out may 1st that i weigh 90 lbs. i have been trying to feed myself but lose appetite, his family thinks im sick and may be dying. YES! i am dying on the inside. the emotional AND physical abuse has caused me great plain.

    an example of physical abuse between both of us – i hit him with a belt one time out of hurt and anger because he was belittling me. he beat my ass like i was a child with the very same belt.
    daily, when we argue and voices are raised; my 1 year old dog runs and hides instead of protecting me from him but she will surely protect me from any other man :/

    HELP ME!!!!!!!!!

  • Distraught

    What do you do when women emotionally abuse their husbands… What do you do for the husband who thought he should turn the other cheek because that is what God expected of him even though the wife would use words to hurt. A hurt so deep that he actually thought something was wrong with him and that the criticism was true because someone who loves you would not be capable of belittling, devaluing his contribution and sacrifices for the benefit of his family. Destroying and tearing down instead of building up to create unity and harmony. My endearing greeting and happiness to see my family was met with gall and a hand that sent a message loud and clear. Rejection became the order of the day when he arrives home from work, after journeying in heavy traffic. The young children model this behavior exhibited by their mother, although they do not have words to understand nor articulate what they see, but hear her saying “do not touch me”, “do not come close to me”. In their little minds Daddy should not touch me either.

    With mutual agreement the husband resigned from his job to care of their young child when he was born; a wife who does not agree to any suggestion that would make life more meaningful; not even the suggestion to move to another town where it would be easier commute for both working parents, while the children are placed in daycare When your wife tells you that you have low self-esteem, and need to talk to a professional… then the professional says ‘nothing is wrong with you’ you need to go back to work “go get a job”

    I am a professional and good at my chosen career. My plan for part-time work met with disdain and accusation of changing the plan even in the face of complaint from her that our finances need to be on sounder footing. Her inflexible stance created tension and such volatility, I cower even to talk to her. Everything must be her way or the highway… and it actually came down to that when she ordered me from the house – her house. She demanded this and ensured that I followed through even at the expense of hurting our children whom I care for so deeply and was content to turn the other cheek for peace because deep down I loved her, and would go the extra mile but all the time realizing that nothing I did ever pleased her.

    I now know that she never understood the meaning of being wife and husband nor the principle of covenant in marriage. As I have read,
    “This newer psychological view of marriage predisposes couples to selfishness, the major enemy of marital love and a lack of fulfillment and happiness that is found in self-giving. Subsequently, serious marital conflicts regularly develop.” Copyright © 2005 – 2011 Richard P. Fitzgibbons

    And “The church presents marriage as a sacrament that is supported by the Lords love and grace and requires cheerful self giving, and openness to children according to God’s will, and sacrifice.” Copyright © 2005 – 2011 Richard P. Fitzgibbons

  • Jane

    I’ve been married for 5 months and before we got married, my husband always cursed at me for not doing things his way, and we would argue about where we would live and of course he chose to live in the area of his choice. We don’t go to visit my relatives they have to come visit me because either they live to far or I have a dysfunctional family etc, etc. The times I wanted to leave I was afraid of him taking away the very little things I had worked for from me and leave me without nothing or afraid of him causing a big scene and going crazy, he always knew how to convince me to stay and how things will get better and he is just stressed and always apologizes for treating me wrong. When I did talk to him about the things say to me and how much they hurt my feelings, he sure did day that I was a nut case and I’m just exaggerating, and he never said anything to me for me to start crying (i’m a very sensitive person) and that i’m just a cry baby! but yet he is apologizing?!?! We got married in January 2014 and months before the wedding I still didn’t see any changes in him, so I always had faith that when we do tie the knot, he will change, Well…. Until this day things are the same I’ve became more stressed and depressed to where its taking a toll on my body. I’m also starting to keep to myself I’m constantly thinking and worried about what the outcome will be for us. My family believes that my husband doesn’t want to live nearby them so that he can treat me however he wants. I had a good bond with my sister and kids we were inseparable and now that I don’t see them, my sister feels like something is wrong and like always, I come up with excuses. Finally, I did talk to one of his sisters and she told me it will be ok we are married now and its too late to think about leaving him, so now I feel like I’m in the wrong for seeking help. I am trusting God that He will guide me through this difficult time, I believe God doesn’t like the fact a man treats his wife bad, in the bible it states that a man should love his wife just as Christ loves His church. I’m so hurt and confused but my faith in God will never fade, it’s only making me seek the wisdom He will give me.

    • cookie

      Hi Jane,
      Sounds like you need to get counseling I am and it is helping me. Please seek counseling. Yes, a husband is supposed to love you like Christ love the Church. I have found out that my husband cannot give what he does not have. He wants to live to lives Dr.Jekyle and Mr. Hide. I am learning to put my foot down. My husband is a constant liar. I have been depressed at the edge ready to snap. I call on Jesus he will never leave us or forsake us. There is a way out and he will show you. He is cutting you off from family true sign of abuse. Get away from the control. Find a women’s abuse shelter. Trust God he does not advocate abuse in no form. I told my husband I love him but don’t like him. His response was ,”Oh yeah.” He didn’t ask why. I believe the drugs and alcohol has given him brain damage. I pray God will direct you. Be encourage we will make it!

  • Groundhog Day


    I have a wife who is an interesting case. She’s a great woman. But she is simultaneously very particular and also very unexpressive. A lot of times, I can make a small mistake and it will lead to intentional silence that can last for weeks. She also gets extremely angry at me if I say anything she disagrees with in front of others, and I will likely not be spoken to for weeks. Usually she will say “I need to see you change.” And I will say “what would you like me to change?” and the answer will be “everything I wanted to marry a great man of God but I’m stuck with you.” One of her justifications for this was that I called and asked if she was bringing home food (not rudely, I was just curious because I didn’t know if I should cook or not). Another time it was because I missed a prayer meeting due to a mandatory work event.

    The criticism is very general. I’m often confused what she means and there aren’t any examples. If I ask or apologize, the answer is usually “Im not telling you why Im angry you should have known before you made me mad”

    We’re going to counseling now and she will often say she wants to work on the marriage, yet when we get home she will stop talking and say “I don’t have to talk to you if I don’t want to.” And then she’ll usually explain that she doesn’t care about our marriage and I have to make it work,

    I know its weird but since shes always mad about my attendance at church events and when I do prayer or the way I do prayer, I feel like theres no freedom left with God. I can’t choose to come to him. I have to act the way my wife wants, go to events when my wife wants, and say things about God that fit inside her theology. It’s like the individual relationship I had with God is gone because this new thing is required. If I don’t do it the way she wants, she will insult me more, deny me sex for longer, and will extend the silence.

    I love my wife, but I don’t like her anymore. And by like I mean, if I had a choice (not out of obligation) I would choose to spend time with most other people than my wife. I believe a family should be close though, so I am in a room alone with a silent person for 4 or 5 hours most days (and no, it wasn’t at all like this in courtship).

    She’s Christian, but she has this weird and narrow view of what “being on fire for God” is. I’ve come to dislike the Christian culture, and I’m sick of having to be a politician at church events.

    I wish that it was ok to be myself again, with God. Those were good times.

    Oh well I guess.

  • Lonelyandtired

    I have been married just under 2 years. I have 3 sons from a previous marriage, and my husband didn’t have any and had never been married. My oldest son was 19, and graduated from high school just after we started dating. I was honest with my husband and told him before we got serious that because my son has learning disabilities, I wanted him to focus on college during the school year and not to worry about working. He told me that he agreed with me 100% (or he did at the time). After just over a year of dating we got married, and my children and myself moved in with him. My husband never said that his feelings had changed about my son and his school, but apparently just a couple of months after our marriage he changed his mind (or his family changed it for him), but he never came to me to talk about how he felt, he gossiped to his family about us. This went on for over a year, and nothing was ever said to me, suddenly his family started uninviting my son to any family functions…and then a letter came through the mail addressed to my husband with no return address. When I opened it, it was a letter from his mom telling him how wrong I have been, and how I was taking all of his money (I work, and actually make quite a bit more than my husband), and that I was being abusive by expecting this (when actually, we have actually been going to counseling because my husband, as the psycologist says, is narcissistic and is unable to show compassion, love, and understanding). My son has since moved to Louisiana to be with family there….I am having a extremely difficult time forgiving him, and the fact that every time he says he is going to start working on his issues and then falls back into his abusive behavior, is making it even more difficult. I miss my son terribly, and am heartbroken that my husband has driven him away, and has no remorse or understanding about my feelings. But he has admitted that he would not have stayed with me if the roles were reversed. I dont know what to do anymore, I love my husband and dont want to leave, but I dont know if I can continue to deal with this

  • Heather

    I am not sure if I even belong in this discussion. If I am really being emotionally abused. I know that others have it so much worse. I love my husband with all of my heart and I think that is why his words can hurt so very bad. And then I think i am being emotionally abused. But it is not an everyday thing so maybe not. It’s just when he gets mad. Like today for instance. I am in Texas right now and he is in Florida. He got into an argument last night with my 19yr old son. My son called him an ahole and he got up and open hand hit his eye pushed him on the floor and held his face down really hard. He told me that he only pushed him. My son sent me a pic of the top of his eye bruised with a knot on top. In the fifteen years we have been together I told myself if he ever hit my child that would be it. So I called him and very nicely said please don’t put ur hands on my son. And he said he is lying I only pushed him and I tried to explain the picture and he started cussing at me calling my son the p word. And telling me f u and f him and then he said f the 13yr old daughter we have together. F all of you I am done with you. You make me sick. I am tired of u sticking up for his little p a word. I am really going to f him up tonight so you can see what its like. I said I am not trying to say what he did was right I am asking you not to put your hands on him. F u
    …u already said it u believe him. In the mean time he kept hanging up on me and I would try to call back to explain myself. And I was balling because his words hurt. My 13 yr old daughter text me and says mom if that is you that keeps trying to call him back please stop. He will only hurt you worse. He is just a jerk. So embarrassing that she told me this. I shouldn’t be scared to speak my opinion now and then. We are suppose to bring each other up and guide each other. He only does this when he is mad. So I started googling if it was a sin to want to leave ur husband for hitting your son. Then I found this amazing article. I am so lost.

    • Lucy Ann Moll

      Emotional abuse does not have to happen daily for it to be abusive.

      • Heather

        Thank you Lucy. :-) At this point I am just praying several times a day that he be a good and patient father until I get to Florida.

        • separated

          Heather I delt with the same treatment from my husband and after being married 4 years and I left. You are being abused and he will continue to abuse you emotionally. It will only get worse. Eventually he will physically abuse you too. Get out now!

  • Dumez Gracy

    Hello every one i am Gracy Dumez a German citizen but with my family here i Canada, i had some problems in my marriage because thought i keep some secrets from him before we get married and i was unable to get pregnant because my husband hate it to sex with me that again develop to my filter problem but before we get married he so much love me and i love him as much so i decide to search for a solution on marriage site and from friends and i find so many spiritual doctors then i contacted three of them one after the other but they all disappointed me till my family seeks for divorce and he happily divorce me because he already find another lady. so while i was alone with pains i still look for solution every where till a meet with a friend of mine that just came from Germany then she direct me to this site where i read about Dr on how he solve marriage, relationships, family , healing and so many testimony about then me and my friend decide to contact despite i he told me about the materials that i must provide i just have to do all that he told me because of what other persons said about him. three days after we have done all he ask me to do, he said he have done everything i did not know how it will work because i could even contact my husband again he already block but i was so sup-rice Hashberg call our home line to ask of me. well we are happily married now with one kids but expecting another one soon. My dear contact if you have any problem that give you pain. contact today he is helpful and excellent

  • thankful

    thank you for this post on emotional abuse. This explains SOOO MUCH! The hurt, the rejection, and pain causing agent is now in focus and can be dealt with!! Knowing where to start is the first step in this process of restoration. But now I can also call it what it is “abuse”, and not stand for it! Very thankful.

  • Jasmine Fencio


  • Guidanceseeker

    Hi everyone, I want to be lead by the Holy Spirit as to what to do in my situation. I totally want to please my Father. I pray for my husband, who has become violent, manipulative, etc. I know that I have nagged about his non cleaning and spending habits in the past, but I believe that I can’t continue to go around in circles. He has put his hands on me several times, and the other night was last straw when he threw me out the bed on my back. Yes, 30 secs later I go up and defended myself. I know that I’m not loved by this man. We’ve been married for 3 years as of April 16, 2014 and he seem to not want to change. He put up a front in front of alot of people, very munipulative. I’m praying for him and I even thought of seperating until he can think some. However, I don’t know if this is what the Lord want’s me to do. It’s my flesh wanting to do this at the moment. I can’t let this man bring take me backwards, when I know I’m pressing to go forward for God glory.

    • Mary

      I would advise you to separate from him soon now that the physical abuse has started so that he will know that you won’t tolerate that. I think that the habit becomes more engrained over time. I hope you have some good supportive friends that won’t take advantage of you while you are separated . God bless you and I hope you and your husband find a way out of the cycle. I am separated from my husband and am looking for a way out too.

  • Disappointed

    Children and I have been emotionally and verbally abused for 6 years. I got the guts to confront spouse she went to church crying and I actually got asked if I was doing anything tto turn the kids against her. Yes holding them, drying their tears, and telling them they are of worth. I wish the church wouldn’t act so sexist. It took alot for me and the kids to admit we are being abused and they now observed the church not only doesn’t care but tries to blame the victim. I don’t want a divorce but I want my kids to know abuse isn’t okay. I really thought the church would believe me and the kids

  • mimi7436

    hello , I have been marry for 12 year but we have been together for 16 years he is starting to control me , on who am I talking to…who I see and how long …i feel claustrophobic and not sure what to do…or where to go

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The BCC exists to strengthen churches, para-church organizations, and educational institutions by promoting excellence and unity in biblical counseling as a means to accomplish compassionate outreach and effective discipleship.