The following signs of an abusive wife are important to understand and recognize. The difficulty is that an abusive wife leads you along a path where many of these things become normalized. you settle into a life where you accept these things as ‘that's the way our relationship is’ and you don't actually recognize how abusive the situation is. Even worse, many men don't think these things are happening to them because their wives have redefined what the behavior is all about.
For example, many abusive wives start managing the finances early in the relationship. They may suggest that they are better at math, or better at organization, or they are in a better position to understand where the money needs to go and so on. If they work in a bank or in finance, they will of course use this as a `valid´ excuse to do the book keeping. This all seems to make sense to the husband in the way it's presented. Then 5 years later, or 10, or 20, the man is in a position where they know little to nothing about the financial state of the relationship. Income, outgoings, bills, debts, savings, the man may know literally nothing about these things. She manages it all.
If asked about it the man will usually explain that she deals with all that because she is a better organizer, or she works in a bank etc. He has been led to believe and accept this idea. The fact is that she is totally controlling the finances, but he doesn’t think of it that way. It was redefined in his mind as something else. This redefinition is a major tactic of the abusive wife and it's why many victims don't realize the level of control that they are being subjected to.
So, as you go through this page, if you do see many of these signs of an abusive wife in your own situation and you think that the other ones are not present, it’s important that you pay attention to these ones. They may indeed be present in your life but you just don’t recognize them because they have been labelled as something else. These ones are your blind spots. You have to be able to recognize these ones to fully understand the level of control that this woman is exerting over you.
If you can’t figure them out, ask a trusted friend (not your wife!) or better still, get professional help!
These signs of an abusive wife are in no particular order.
When you met your wife initially, did you feel very quickly that you have met your soul mate, someone who absolutely understood you? Did you feel straight away that here was someone who really cared about you, and you both had lots of things in common? Did she make you feel safe, that you could trust her from the first moment?
Do you now miss that person you originally fell in love with? The person you are now married to seems so different. The original one shows up very infrequently. The cold, selfish, controlling one is the one you have to deal with on a day to day basis.
Have you stopped spending much time with your friends and family? Do you spend less and less time on your hobbies and sports? Or have you even stopped them altogether?
Are you constantly busy? With no time for yourself? Are you constantly doing things for her? Or for ‘the relationship’?
Does she tell lies, keep you in the dark about lots of things and twist and distort information to make it more ‘acceptable’?
While not revealing much about her movements, does she want to know all about yours? Where you were, who you were with, what was spoken about, what you did...?
Have you noticed that there are lots and lots of rules? Some of these are said out loud but many are not. Sometimes, you ‘just know’ what you can say or do (or not!) but you have never been specifically told these things.
Does she change the rules when it suits her? And, of course, you are not allowed to do the same thing.
Are you allowed to challenge her, disagree or criticize? Or are you afraid that World War III will break out if you do so?
Are you expected to run everything by her before you do anything or buy anything, but she makes a lot of unilateral decisions? If you do something without checking first, does she make you feel awful because you haven’t included her, she doesn’t feel that you are a team player, you are not taking care of the relationship or you are being selfish, and so on?
Did you only find out important things about her after you were majorly committed in some way (you had moved in together, got married or she was pregnant)?
Are there times when she criticizes you, and then humiliates you, and then criticizes you some more? She seems to have a fantastic memory for all the things you have allegedly done wrong. But when it comes to things you think she has done, does she claim she cannot remember or she flat out denies it happened?
Have you noticed that you can criticize her in your own head, but if anyone else tries to do this you stand up and defend her? “She is not like that, it’s not that bad”, “You don’t know her as well as I do”, and “She does have her moments but she is really a great person/wife/mother at heart”, are some of the things you say to justify her bad behavior to others.
You think all relationships are like yours and if anyone says their relationship is great, you think that they are in denial in some way.
Does this woman know so much about you that you feel inferior in some way? You are not allowed any privacy in that you are expected to tell her everything and she knows all the supposedly ‘bad’ things about you so you feel that she has something over you? Is it fair to say that your relationship is not a relationship of equals?
Does she reveal personal stuff about you to others, often in front of you? If you did that to her, would there be hell to pay afterwards?
Do you ever feel dependent on her? Are you very afraid of losing the relationship, even if you are often not happy and very fed up with her controlling you?
Does she threaten you with leaving the relationship if you don't go along with her? In the same vein, does she threaten to take the kids away and never let you see them again?
Are things black and white with her? You are wrong, she is right. Her decisions are good, yours are bad. Her opinions are correct, yours are worthless. This is one of the very important signs of an abusive wife.
Is she impossible to satisfy? Whatever you do she wants more. It doesn’t matter how much time, effort, money, energy, creativity you put in, it’s never enough for her. She finds something to criticize in what you have done. No matter how much you give, she expects more?
Does your whole life revolve around her? Or more specifically, does it revolve around making sure she is comfortable, making sure she doesn't get upset, making sure her life is as easy as possible?
Does she have everything she wants and everything her way while your needs are often not met?
Do you feel a sense of satisfaction or comfort only when she is happy?
When she is upset, do you feel that you are wrong, bad or flawed in some way?
Does she make you feel guilty? Very often? In fact, are there a whole range of things she makes you feel guilty about? Your family, your friends, who you are, your past, your interests, your thoughts, actions and feelings?
Do you often think about leaving the relationship? Does she call you names? Stupid, pathetic, worthless, clumsy, useless, stupid, jerk, sinner, fool, crazy... Instead of saying such things as "That's a foolish thing to do," does she say "You are a fool for doing that!"?
Do you ever feel hopeless because it seems that it doesn't matter what you do or say you can't have things the way you want?
Do you sometimes wonder how this woman who supposedly loves you can be so cold and cruel towards you and/or the children?
In fact, did you ever ask yourself why she had children in the first place if she was going to treat them the way she does?
Can she shut you down and make you feel two inches tall with a look, a tone of voice or a particular phrase?
Does she always have excuses for her bad behavior? Excuses that you are expected to accept? And you can't use those excuses yourself?
If you see many of these signs of an abusive wife in your relationship, then you really need to do something about it. Staying in the hope that if you can just get things right, you will have nice times again is not a good strategy. These people don’t change.
You can read more here about emotional abuse, the dynamics of abusive relationships, dealing with controlling people and how to divorce a sociopath.
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