How to stop emotional abuse in marriage

Too many times in life, there is a friction between us and others, and a deep sense of frustration when our basic emotional needs are not being met.

However, sometimes we deal with a person who surprises us: when we are able to talk with them, express needs, and negotiate positive solutions, we are shocked and think to ourselves, “Why hasn’t this person told me this before? It would have been so easy to satisfy their request, if only I had known it!”

How does that exchange of needs and satisfaction begin? With assertion! Assertion is the art of saying what you need, believe, and deserve in a way that other people can hear you clearly.

This ability is essential for if you want to stop emotional abuse in marriage, and improve an abusive marriage. Unhealthy alternatives to assertion are:

1.    Submission – letting other people’s needs come always before yours, whether just or unjust. This happens if you accept disrespectful treatment from a loved one for some time, and breeds deep resentment;

2.    Aggression – forcing your needs on another person without their agreement.

Both are lose-lose options, meaning that both sides, even the “winning” one will get less from the relationship. These options build anger, hurt and resentment instead of respect and love.

The proper way to assert your needs and desires is this:

1.    Create a clear idea of exactly what behavior is irritating you, and why. If he/she is not speaking to you in front of your friends, that is clearly a hostile behavior that needs addressing. What is the behavior that you want, instead of this? Acceptance, care, attention? Be clear on what you want.

2.    You need to define the behavioral change that you need from this person or to set limits with someone whose behavior is unacceptable or hurtful to you.

3.    Don’t back down on your personal rights as a dignified person; stand firm in your belief that your rights, needs, and dignity are just as valid and important as anyone else’s, regardless of age, power, role, or gender.

How does assertion work?

1.    Begin describing the negative behavior in clear words:

“When you make jokes about my cooking in front of my friends, as you did last night at Alice’s party…

2.    State the impact on you:

“I feel put down and unappreciated.”

3.    Declare that you want a change and to agree to making the change:

“Remember that we are each other’s support system and we don’t criticize the other in public.”

If you want to stop emotional abuse in marriage in a healthy way, remember that your purpose is not to blame, but to deliver information about the impact of the behavior. Messages centered on the “I” pro noun, delivered calmly and with steady, non-apologetic eye contact have a better chance of being received as information, and not criticism.

The victim of emotional abuse needs to provide the offending person with a steady feedback on the impact of their behavior for two reasons. It is information necessary to change, and to building up self-esteem. Assertion greatly assists an emotionally abused woman, because it gives her the opportunity to express and defend her own needs in an unequivocal way. In this way, you deal with an emotional abuse marriage.

Nora Femenia, Ph.D is passionate about supporting women’s recovery from emotional abuse once and for all. Nora has created a powerful set of tools for helping women break out of the mind-set that keeps them in a toxic relationship by first discovering unconscious beliefs and family blueprints.

To know more about her latest book “Recovering From Emotionally Abusive Relationships” please visit

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