It’s important for you to be able to recognize the signs of a destructive marriage. For example, Julie knew she was in a difficult marriage, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on why.
But whenever she tried to assert herself, especially around money issues, it never went well. Her husband Sam earned the majority of the family income and insisted Julie keep a strict accounting of all her spending.
Each week Sam collected her receipts and then critiqued her spending choices item by item.
After a while, Julie began to doubt her own judgment. She also grew exhausted listening to Sam’s weekly lectures about how wasteful and extravagant she was.
When she protested, Sam informed her that, from now on, he would do all the shopping for the family. Julie was in a destructive marriage, but she didn’t know it.
All she knew was that she felt small, stupid and insecure despite having an MBA and holding a management level job before her children were born.
So I want to give you five warning signs that your marriage is more than difficult or disappointing. It’s destructive.
1. You Feel Controlled:
Like Julie. Instead of being an adult partner in your marriage, you’ve been demoted to the status of a child or even a slave.
Your husband has all the power and makes most of the decisions, not only in your family life, but also in yours. You have little or no freedom to make independent choices, to dissent or even disagree. And, if you do, the conflict that it causes isn’t worth it.
Does your spouse squash a perspective on things? Does he refuse to work with you as a partner and share power in decision-making?
2. Second, You Feel Afraid:
Now, obviously whenever there’s any kind of physical or verbal abuse, your marriage is destructive. But Julie wasn’t physically abused.
But she did feel afraid to put her foot down and challenge Sam’s new shopping restriction. Her self-esteem and worth were constantly diminished by Sam’s overbearing personality and she felt afraid she was losing who she was within her marriage.
Does your spouse bully you, threaten you, humiliate you, intimidate you, force you, or coerce you to do things you don’t want to do?
3. Third, You Feel Conf used:
When Danielle tried to explain to her husband, why it was important that he called her, if he was going to be late, he agreed.
But when he didn’t do it, and she confronted him, he got angry and twisted things around and accused her of being controlling and trying to change him.
Does your spouse have a pattern of misleading you, denying things that you know are true? Lying about things or getting you to blame yourself for other people what he messes up?
4. Fourth, You Feel Dismissed:
Your perspective, your feelings, your desires, your needs are regularly ignored or minimized. Linda tried explaining again and again why she was uncomfortable with her husband’s friendship with his female co-worker.
But her husband always had the uncanny ability to make her feel like she was overreacting, hypersensitive, and even a bit paranoid.
Does your spouse ignore your feelings and act indifferently to you and your needs?
5. Fifth, Feel Objectified:
Karen’s husband worked long hours and spent little time interacting with her, other than when he wanted to have sex.
Tired of being ignored, one night Karen wired up her courage and said, “You know Stan, I know you want me to be more affectionate and sexual with you and enjoy a physical relationship, but the way you treat me so much of the time makes me feel angry and hurt.
I just can’t manufacture warm feelings for you when you want to be intimate. Wouldn’t you rather have sex with a wife who enjoys being with you instead of simply a wife who does her marital duty?”
Stan’s response stung her to the core. He said, “Of course I would. But, if wifely duty all I can get I’ll settle for that.” Stan’s indifference made her feel like an object he used, not a person he loved.
Does your spouse act as if it’s your sole purpose to meet his needs and make him happy? Does he get angry when you ask him to do something for you…
if there’s nothing in it for him? If you recognize that your marriage may be destructive, don’t close your eyes.
Face the truth and begin to take some action and get some support. Educate yourself about the dynamics of destructive marriages so that you know what you can do to make the changes that may save your relationship.