Unfortunately, anger and emotional abuse is far more common in Christian marriages than you might think.
Oooo Melissa! You hit my prickly spot. I’m going to need prayer on this one. My husband has anger issues (I’ve got the holes in the walls to prove it) and says very belittling things to me. I think divorce a lot. Respecting and forgiving him is my biggest challenge.
It’s a touchy subject and one I do not take lightly. Here’s my response below:
I believe that anger is a form of emotional abuse. All relationships need boundaries. The occasional outburst is one thing. Feeling like you have to walk on egg shells or like you never know from one moment to the next what is going to “set him off” is another issue altogether. My heart goes out to you.
Here are some good resources on emotional abuse:
- Help for those Suffering from Emotional Abuse
- God Loves Ugly – Review and Author Interview
- When Trying Harder Becomes Destructive
- Counseling Marital Abuse
- Biblical Grounds for Divorce
- When Pray Harder Isn’t the Answer
It is OKAY to stand up for yourself. It is OKAY to say, “This is NOT OKAY.” It’s OKAY to admit you need help.
I know some people say that the Bible does not say “Only submit to your husband if he’s a good husband.” However, I do not believe that God expects any of His children to endure any type of abuse, whether it be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual.
I’m not saying that divorce is the only answer or even the best answer, but setting boundaries is crucial in any healthy relationship!
Very often, the abuser is not willing to change until the relationship is brought to a crisis point, i.e. the wife forcing a separation until change happens.
And in many, if not most cases, abusers will not change regardless.
Books to Read About Abuse
If you feel confused about your marriage or like marriage is much harder than it should be or if you believe you may be in an abusive marriage, I highly recommend the following books. I’ve read all of them.
- Boundaries in Marriage by Henry Cloud and John Townsend
- Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men by Lundy Bancroft
- Should I Stay or Should I Go? by Lundy Bancroft
- Is It Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage by Natalie Hoffman
I believe that as long as you are married and your husband continues to struggle with anger management, you need to learn to take control of your situation as best you can. Here are some things you can do right now:
- Write a letter to your husband explaining how you feel when he belittles you, yells at you, etc. Make a list of your complaints in a respectful way. For instance, say: I feel defeated when you tell me I’m a bad wife. I feel defeated when you tell me I’m lazy. Tell him how much you love him and how much you want to have a happy home.
- Begin responding to his common complaints in a respectful way and be consistent with your answers. For instance, if he routinely gets angry at you when you spend $5.00 at Wal-Mart, answer calmly and say something like, “It is not okay for you to treat me with disrespect. I have the right to spend our money when I stay in the budget.” Or you could say, “It is not okay for you to yell at me. When you sit down with me and help plan a budget, I will be willing to stay within the budget.”
- Refuse to fuel his complaints. If he has a habit of coming home and immediately finding 10 things to be angry about, try to ignore the outburst and say, “I need you to come home with a pleasant attitude. When you talk to me that way, I feel broken inside.”
Of course, these are only suggestions.
I do not know your situation.
I do not recommend you do or say anything to your husband that would incite him to violence or more anger.
You know your situation.
If you want help leaving an abusive situation you can visit The National Domestic Violence Website or Call them at: 1−800−799−7233 or TTY 1−800−787−3224
I’ve been divorced. I know what it’s like to be in a bad situation. Feel free to email me if you want to talk!