There are many people currently involved in what could be defined as a toxic relationship. When people choose to marry, they do so believing that their spouse will love, honor, cherish and respect them for the rest of their lives. However, many individuals find themselves in a life-long commitment with a spouse whose words are verbal daggers right to the heart.
When attending a wedding, we often hear Scripture verses about love included in the ceremony.
Love is patient and is kind; love doesn’t envy. Love doesn’t brag, is not proud, doesn’t behave itself inappropriately, doesn’t seek its own way, is not provoked, takes no account of evil; doesn’t rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. —1 Corinthians 13:4-7
So, what should you do if you when these words are not ringing true in your marriage and you find yourself being verbally abused by your spouse? Some people may tell you to leave the marriage. They’ll say that you deserve better and that you don’t need to put up with it.
Chances are that they are sincere in their advice because they care about you. However, they are not walking in your shoes and it can be much more complicated than just exiting the marriage. Perhaps you have children; maybe you just don’t believe in divorce, or it could be that you dearly love your spouse and just want him or her to realize how much these negative comments hurt you, and the harm that it’s doing to your relationship.
You Can’t Change a Person
Yes, you’ve heard this before, but it needs to be repeated. Your spouse will only change his ways if he chooses to do so. You only have the power to transform yourself. Ask yourself, how do you treat your spouse? Are you nitpicky and point out everything your spouse does wrong? Do you try to build him up or tear him down? Take inventory of how you behave and what you’re bringing into the relationship. Once you do this, the next step is to focus on how to persuade your spouse to take a good look at him or herself in her own mirror.
Talk with Your Spouse
In the beginning stage of this negative cycle, make an attempt to talk to your spouse. Choose a time of day that you are both calm and willing to have an open and honest conversation. If the disrespectful comments are just starting, calmly sit down and discuss it.
Does your partner realize what he/she is saying and how it is affecting you personally? Is she stressed out and possibly taking it out on you because her patience is being tested on other life issues? Find out if the negative comments are intentional and meant to cause you emotional harm. Regardless of reasons, remind your loved one that you do not deserve to be treated this way. Tell her you hope that she now realizes what she is doing. Clearly explain that you expect your spouse to treat you with the same respect and consideration that you give to her.
Do you and your spouse regularly attend church services? Being in a group worship environment can be very beneficial in discarding negativity. It renews your mind, body and spirit, and helps you feel God’s strength and support. Many churches also offer programs for couples in the form of retreats and counseling.
If talking with your spouse one-on-one didn’t resolve your issues, your next step may be to try a mediator. A marriage counselor can be a very effective tool that can help save your relationship. Talking with a professional will give each person an open forum to honestly express their feelings. Sometimes in a marriage we stop listening to one another. Having a third person can assist you in truly hearing what your partner is trying to say.
In some cases, the environment at home has become so unhealthy, that for your own well-being you may need to consider a temporary separation. Although you may not want it to lead down the road to divorce, sometimes being apart can provide clarity and perspective to a situation. Time away may lead you back down the path of marriage bliss.
Life will be full of challenges, and it’s important to remember that you should always be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. Equally important is to remember that every person deserves to be surrounded by true and unconditional love.