Physical abuse leaves marks that can be easy to identify by yourself and by others. But detecting emotional abuse can be more difficult. The emotional damage they leave, while not physically visible, can sometimes be much more harmful and damaging. However, by reading about the signs of this type of abuse, you can seek help and put a stop to this in your relationship.
Here are eight signs your spouse is emotionally manipulative:
1. They try to appear smarter than you
If your spouse is an intellectual bully, they'll talk down to you when they think they know better about a certain subject. They belittle you with their own knowledge, making you feel less intelligent than them.
Not only is this their way of claiming authority over you, but by diminishing your opinions, you are less likely to debate with them.
When you two are in an argument, they always have to be the one with the last word. This is because they care more about being right and "winning" the argument than they do about resolving a problem or being sensitive to your feelings.
3. They don't let you participate in the big decisions
If your darling doesn't involve you in making big decisions (such as buying a home or moving to a new city) it could be because they don't respect you. Your marriage is a partnership, so you two should be unified when it comes to making big decisions for your family.
4. They make you feel guilty
A key attribute of someone who's emotionally abusive is their ability to play the victim. They make you feel guilty - like you're the one at fault or that you're failing in the relationship. This might be their way of covering their own guilt. For example, your partner may say something hurtful, then brush it because it was just a joke or because "you're too sensitive."
The best kind of marriage doesn't come from focusing on your partner's faults, it comes from improving yourself. Of course you're not going to be the perfect husband or wife, but your sweetheart shouldn't demand that of you.
There's nothing wrong with a little teasing - everyone should be able to laugh at themselves a little bit. But if your partner regularly insults you and calls it a joke, they might be emotionally manipulating you.
Even if they truly did mean something as a joke, but accidentally went a little too far, they should apologize and move on. Everyone has a line they shouldn't cross when it comes to humor, and your spouse should know when and where a joke no longer becomes funny.
6. They give you the silent treatment
A healthy relationship must be based on good communication. However, that foundation easily crumbles when one partner refuses to talk. The silent treatment is a cruel form of punishment because it doesn't allow the two of you to move forward. You shouldn't have to be afraid that your spouse will stop talking to you if you take a wrong step in their strict set of rules in the relationship.
When your partner has a strict set of rules for you, you're constantly going to feel like you're falling short. They'll make you feel guilty by saying things like "I wish you were more like so-and-so" or "why do you have to be like this?" They'll make you wish you were different, or that the love they have to offer is contingent upon how well you do in the relationship.
True love shouldn't be contingent upon anything; they should love you no matter what. That love will inspire you to be the best version of yourself, but you can't get there if you're unhappy with yourself right now.
8. They exaggerate their co-dependency
An emotionally manipulative person doesn't know how to be independent, so they depend on you. Because of this, they make you feel guilty when you try to have a life outside of your relationship. They feel jealous and blame you for their insecurities. This is because they want you to be as dependent on them as they are on you.
You two should both have lives and friendships outside of your marriage. There should be trust between the two of you - too much dependency on each other can turn resentful the second someone else comes along.
If your spouse does regularly does these eight things, it needs to be addressed. There's a chance your sweetheart is unaware of the damage they're unintentionally causing, so lovingly bringing how you feel could be enough of a solution. However, if the situation is more severe, seek help. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233, or visit their webpage for assistance.
Emily Brady is a member of the FamilyShare content team. She studied Communication with an emphasis in journalism. She loves photography and finding a good book to read in her hammock on a sunny, breezy day.