Yesterday, we examined what constitutes physical abuse within a marriage. Today, let’s explore something much more subtle and overlooked…verbal and/or emotional abuse. Once again, I strongly urge women to take a stand against abuse of any kind. Keep in mind, you are showing your children (especially your daughters) that either women are supposed to be weak, helpless, perpetual victims or that women can be confident and strong while still displaying love and kindness.
After doing much research, here’s a fairly comprehensive list of behavior that constitutes verbal, emotional or psychological abuse: Frequently calling you obscene names, often yelling in rage, a pattern of constantly criticizing you and putting you down, prolonged periods of refusing to talk to you at all, pattern of ridiculing or making fun of you, pattern of mocking you or mean-spirited sarcasm, verbal threats of violence, intimidation through displaying knives or guns, constantly accusing you of wrongdoing, forbidding you to talk to parents or siblings, preventing you from leaving the house, refusing to allow you to talk on the phone, forbidding you from speaking to friends or neighbors, gas-lighting you by causing you to question your memory of what happened.
Again, I urge you to take a stand against this kind of abuse. You are a valuable woman. You are God’s daughter and precious in His sight. Don’t allow yourself to be emotionally pummeled. You will slowly be destroyed. That is NOT God’s plan for you. In fact, God instructs us to guard our hearts in Proverbs 4:23….”Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life“. If you are suffering this kind of abuse, please talk to your pastor, pastor’s wife, or a certified counselor. Your husband may be upset, but you must protect your heart. By the way, if you fear for your physical safety as a result of revealing the emotional abuse, then take protective measures such as moving to a friend’s home or a domestic violence shelter while you work through the issues with your husband.
Many of us come into marriage with broken sexuality. You may have been sexually abused as a child. You may have slept with some prior boyfriends. Your husband may have been sexually molested as a child or slept around before making a commitment to you. All of that stuff from the past can cause us to be somewhat broken or scarred when it comes to our sexuality.
However, God is in the business of redeeming and restoring! If you or your husband are haunted by the memories of former lovers or pornographic images, confess that to each other, and, prior to making love, pray together for Jesus to heal you. Jesus can and will heal your broken sexuality. James 5:16 says, “Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.”
If you or your husband are sexually scarred due to past sexual abuse, pray together before making love and ask Jesus to heal you sexually. Ask him to restore your innocence. Ask him to allow you to totally delight in physical intimacy with your spouse. Jesus is the great healer. Claim Isaiah 53:5 “by his wounds, we are healed“
And one additional benefit of praying together before making love is that it is one of the most intimate things you can do! Beautiful spiritual and emotional intimacy occurs when you open your heart before your spouse and pray for God to enter into broken places.
Whether we realize it or not, most husbands are actually very insecure. Many of our men have suffered deep emotional wounds in childhood. Some were teased incessantly at school. Many were physically abused by their dad or grandpa. Others were sexually abused by the neighbor man. Some were basically abandoned by one or both of their parents. The emotional wounds, though often never revealed openly, still exist.
Unintentionally, we sometimes take a knife to that open wound and rip it open a little further. When a man’s wife constantly points out his faults, the wound becomes larger. When a wife complains that he doesn’t make enough money, isn’t romantic enough, doesn’t play with the kids enough, doesn’t talk to her enough….his insecurity grows deeper. He feels like a failure once again. He feels unwanted, unappreciated. He feels like he’s just one big disappointment.
Ladies, let’s truly become our husband’s helper (Genesis 2:18) by being the one person in his life that always sees the best in him…who truly believes in him. Let’s consciously work to affirm anything and everything he does right. Think of yourself as your husband’s biggest cheerleader. He needs to know you’re on his team. This doesn’t mean you should never confront him if he’s way out of line, but even then, you can confront him lovingly and respectfully. Let’s become the soothing salve for the emotional wounds of our men!