Emotional Abuse: Identifying Spiritual Abusiveness In Marriage
What is the connection between emotional abuse and spiritual abusiveness?
A subtle form (or not so subtle depending how you look at it) of emotional abuse sometimes experienced within marriage is spiritual abusiveness. The idea of spiritual abuse is a foreign concept to many people. So, what is it and how does it become emotional abuse?
When it comes to abuse, remember, all abuse (including emotional abuse), is based on power and control as opposed to love and respect.
So, spiritual abuse occurs when a leader, or in the case of marriage when a spouse, attempts to control, manipulate, or dominate another person; this is emotional abuse and it is often lurks under the guise of someone who is “being religious.”
The control often exhibits itself through fear since fear is a major factor in mind control or thought reform.
Additionally, guilt and shame are effective weapons for the abusive party in controlling the victim. Obviously, this is emotional abuse, too.
Specifically, spiritual abuse occurs in marriage when the husband or wife uses religious values to “rule over” their spouse. People might argue with me but this is nothing more than another kind of emotional abuse.
Complicating the matter is that some faiths teach that a husband has authority over his wife. Some men will, therefore, use religious emotional abuse to keep their wives in line.
Some religions require that the wife submit to the husband in everything. Husbands who are spiritually abusive will twist and misinterpret this teaching by using “God” to control their wives. Spiritual abusiveness quickly becomes emotional abuse in this situation.
What spiritual abuse does is that it makes its victims dependent upon the will of the perpetrator.
The abusive person may succeed in making the victim feel incapable of doing anything on his or her own without the help of the abuser.
Victims lose confidence in themselves and in their standing with God apart from the perpetrator. And they become subjugated and emotionally enslaved to the abusive spouse.
Spiritually abusive spouses have a need to control, exhibit jealousy and attempt to isolate their spouse from outside contact, and they demonstrate a disrespect for privacy and personal boundaries (which, again, is emotional abuse).
So, how do you know if you are in a spiritually abusive marriage?
Does your spouse exhibit control-oriented leadership, in effect, lording it over you?
Does your spouse demand submission and unquestioning loyalty and obedience?
Are uncomfortable questions unwelcome?
Are guilt, fear, and intimidation used to control and manipulate you?
Does your spouse claim that questioning him/her is akin to questioning God?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, then it’s likely that you are suffering emotional abuse and are in a spiritually abusive marriage.
If you are subject to spiritual abuse, it is important to build confidence within yourself and to stop listening to the abuser. Try to make decisions regarding what is good and what is bad for you by yourself.
Please listen to me: You must understand that God is all-embracing, and it is not essential to take guidance from others to encounter Him. God invites you into a relationship without the requirement of a third party, even if that third party is your spouse.
And, finally, healthy religion serves to elevate individuals, freeing them of guilt and shame. It is based on love and respect and does not seek to control, but instead, invites people to decide to willingly follow the leadership of God, not the ways of man.
Healthy religion does not produce fear or shame in believers. Guilt is dealt with through the gracious forgiveness of a loving God. And there is absolutely no emotional abuse or spiritual abusiveness within an authentic relationship with Him.