There are several types of abuse...
- Physical abuse is an act of another party involving contact intended to cause feelings of physical pain, injury, or other physical suffering or bodily harm.
- Sexual abuse is forcing undesired sexual behavior by one person upon another.
- Verbal abuse is the most common way to attempt to control the behavior, thoughts, and feelings of another human being. This can be comments made to harm another person or degrade them. The comments are mean spirited.
I want to reiterate that I do not advocate abuse in any form. I do not believe women are designed to be abused and just endure that abuse for their entire lives. This is not good for her, her children, or her husband in any way.
Men can misuse the authority and position they have been given by God. A woman who truly loves her husband does not wish for him to spend his days being abusive and unloving toward her, knowing that he will receive his just reward for how he handled the position he was given. A man is given a responsibility to love his wife as himself, to cherish and protect her. He was not given a wife to brow beat and treat worse than an animal.
I have seen this happen and it is very sad. The wife enables this behavior because she feels afraid. This is especially true with Christian women. They feel they are meant to submit to the abuse as if it is a calling by God to do so. Submission is a beautiful thing in the context of a healthy relationship. The submission can be used to win a husband to the Lord in some cases. When I try to help women in abusive situations it can be very tricky. It is tricky to know if she is just frustrated with the relationship or if she is truly being abused. When I find out that she is being verbally abused, she is unwilling to do anything about it and that becomes a difficult situation for me. I can comfort her but unless she is willing to help fix the situation, the comfort will not be a lasting fix. Instead, I first ask if she is provoking her husband to wrath in some way. A woman can frustrate a husband by her disrespect or nagging and complaining. When a husband feels like he is stuffed into a corner, he can get mean and react out of frustration which is not always considered abuse but rather a negative response.
How can a woman frustrate her husband?
- She can complain about how long he is working and that he “NEVER” has time for her. This frustrates a man because he feels he is working so hard “FOR HER” and providing the family with a living. He does not feel like he is doing anything wrong and he can get mad because he feels he can not win.
- She can criticize her husband for how he spends money or how well he completes a job. It can be frustrating when a husband feels he is doing his best and he is not appreciated.
- A woman can frustrate a man if she is neglecting his intimate needs as she shoves him aside.
- There are many more ways a woman can frustrate her husband and provoke him into being grumpy and less loving towards her. She can help the situation by being a good helper and an encourager. Some men are just plain mean no matter what. If she does all that he asks, is submissive, warm, joyful, and looking to please him and he still treats her like garbage, I would venture to say that he is crossing the line into becoming verbally abusive.
Of course, men can frustrate women by how they neglect attending to their needs or noticing the things they do for them and show appreciation. Men can often frustrate their wives by overlooking their sacrifices and devotion. It is truly a vicious cycle to which the end is always disappointing, but not usually a case of TRUE verbal abuse.
Here are a few examples of verbal abuse from a spouse…
- Name calling… “you are lazy, fat, ugly, pathetic, a looser, pig, etc.”
- Degradation… “I made a mistake to marry you. You are a lousy spouse. You can not do anything right or worth anything. You make me sick. You are worthless and do not deserve anything.”
This abuse can be on the part of the wife or on the part of the husband. Some women are notoriously mean spirited and verbally abusive to their husbands but husbands usually do not seek help for this. They just get frustrated. Both parties do feel beat down and the marriage suffers greatly.
Some men have a personality that can come across as gruff or unthankful. My husband can come across that way because he is very quiet and does not smile very often. I used to think he was mad at me all the time when we were first married. He would seem cold and uncaring because he never told me that I was pretty, or special, or that I did a good job with anything. I figured out soon enough that he is very happy in our relationship and he is very much in love with me. I have to ask him if he likes the meal I made and he will say that he loves it. He does not often offer compliments. I usually ask him if he is happy and he always says yes. When I ask him if he loves me, he says, “Of course I do.”
Verbal abuse is the most prevalent abuse that gets swept under the rug. Physical and sexual abuse are a more cut and dry. You know and understand that steps need to be taken in order to protect yourself or any other victims. Verbal abuse can be overlooked because it does not leave physical scars or evidence but it can be very destructive in an emotional/spiritual way. In fact, I was abused in all three manners and I would say that verbal abuse was equally as hard to deal with. It was hard because when you are told what an ugly piece of trash you are over and over and over, you start to believe it. The bible tells us that life and death are in the power of the tongue. You can build up or tear down. If it was important enough for God to mention this in his Holy word, why can’t people see the importance of their words towards others?
Proverbs 18:21 "Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof."
James 3:8-10 "But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be."
Since I am a wife, I would like to offer some advise to women who are in a situation of being abused:
- If you are being physically abused you need to call the police or get some help immediately if you feel threatened or if your children are in danger.
- If your husband is sexually abusing you or your children you need to call the authorities for that as well. It would be a sin for you to allow this to go on.
- If you feel your husband is actually crossing the line and being mean spirited as a default and it seems like he wants to hurt you with his words you need to first examine your own conduct and words. Have you done anything to frustrate him? Have you been pure in all your ways?
- Verbal abuse is a very touchy subject because it can be a term used loosly to define discontentment in a relationship. Negative words get tossed across an endless sea of selfishness. I hesitate because people could jump the gun on this one, completely ignoring their own involvement.
First, try to win him with kindness. Do all you can to make your relationship joyful, peaceful, and loving. If this fails after a time, I suggest talking with your husband about how he is treating you. It would go something like this “Husband, I need to talk with you about something. Have I been frustrating you in any way? Are you happy with me? I noticed that you talk to me this way and that way and I feel like you really do not love me the way you used to.” You can say it in many different ways, but you get my point.
If he gets worse and even more mean spirited, you need to find an older woman in the church whom you know to have integrity in her conversation. She is not given to gossip or back biting and she should be in a healthy relationship with her husband. Go to her and tell her what is going on. Seek her council diligently. Pray and ask the Lord to soften his heart and to give you the grace you need.
Have a meeting with a couple that has been married a good amount of years who is known to have a good relationship. If you can get your husband to agree to a meeting with the other couple in order to talk things out and find a solution, that would also be a good step to take. This could be with a pastor and his wife or marriage councilor as well.
My husbands 2 cents: “Now, if he should continue in this manner, not seeking counsel or direction from other men in the church, it may be time to get drastic to get his attention. It may be necessary to separate for a time in some extreme situations until healing can take place in the relationship. Listen, a man has an even greater responsibility from the Lord to love his wife as his own flesh. If he is treating her like trash and throwing away the precious gift he has been entrusted to cherish and love, there will come a time where he will have to give an account. A wife who truly loves her husband would wish for him to finish well. If she hates him, she will endure, enable, and essentially heap coals upon his head on the day of judgment by her downcast and brow beatened kindness. She can be the martyr and get a grand reward for all her wonderful mothering and submissiveness but her dear husband whom she honored and obeyed will have to answer to God for how he ruled while here on this Earth.” ~Mark Harrison
What I do know is that a marriage is meant to be glorious and wonderful. It should be a sanctuary of acceptance, peace, and love. My husband and I had to work very hard to get where we are today by the grace of God. All relationships take time to develop into something sweet. We are in this 100%/100%. Not 50/50, or 30/70. We both give each other all we got. Mark and I are the best of friends and biggest sweet hearts. God has truly given us such a special vision in our home to love one another as He teaches us to love one another. We esteem each other above the other and treat each other the way we would want to be treated. It works. God’s plan works for everyone.
Mark 12:31 "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these."
Philippians 2:3 "Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves."
Ephesians 5:24-25 "Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything. Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it;"Proverbs 25:21-24 "If thine enemy be hungry, give him bread to eat; and if he be thirsty, give him water to drink: For thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head, and the Lord shall reward thee. The north wind driveth away rain: so doth an angry countenance a backbiting tongue. It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house."