17 Mar

We have never done a podcast on this subject or talked much about either physical or mental abuse, but felt it was a very important subject to discuss and we do have some experience as we have a family member that has gone through some serious abuse and we recognize it is probably more prevalent than we think. When the word abuse is heard, most people think of a physical abuse such as being hurt in some way physically.

This absolutely happens, but in this article, we are going to talk about the more common abuse that happens in MANY relationships, and often times we may not even recognize we are doing it! In this article, we are going to share the many types of emotional and verbal abuse that can happen in most marriages.

This is a subject that really has an impact on us as we have a close relationship that has experienced both physical and mental abuse, and we have seen first how it can not only destroy marriages, but also the individual. This is a subject that should not be taken lightly or overlooked.

We also want to point out that while we tend to only think about the kind of abuse that one person is doing to the other, consider how we can often abuse ourselves. As many of you have probably listened to the podcast with Alex Boye, what we say to ourselves can also cause significant damage. Some villages in Africa will actually kick you out of the village if you are talking negatively as they believe it can impact the entire village.

You can check out that episode 140. The Way You Speak To Your Spouse (And Yourself) Can Have Severe Consequences

Here are the most common forms of verbal and emotional abuse:


Name calling is probably the most common and easiest type of abuse to recognize. Examples of this could be to say “you idiot” or “you are so stupid.” We need to keep any name calling out of our language even if you think it is playful for funny.


This could include any light sarcasm or a sarcastic tone of your voice. It could be meant to be funny and harmless, but could be very harmful to your spouse.

Example: “No wonder you are always complaining about your weight, look how much food you just ate!”


People that are master manipulators can turn situations around and put the blame on the other person. They are so good at this they often get the spouse that is being manipulated to think it is their fault or that they have done something wrong!

Example: “If you really cared about me you wouldn’t say that.”


Sometimes it is ok to provide constructive criticism when the person wants to know, but when you are constantly belittling your spouse and criticizing everything they do, that can be very unhealthy and create a very negative relationship. This can also cause your spouse to develop a very low self esteem.

Example: “Why are you so lazy?

“You never get anything accomplished!”

Demeaning Comments

This happens when your spouse is putting you down or making you feel belittled.

Examples: “You overreact all the time.”

“You are never happy with anything I do.”


Threats in relationships happen to try to force their spouse to give them what they want. While this may seem crazy and most people would think they would never do this, it can happen very subtle. People that are very aggressive, or loose their temper quickly are most likely to make threats in the relationship.

Examples:”If you don’t buy that for me, I am not going to have sex with you”

“If you don’t keep things quiet, I am going to take the kids and leave you.”


This form of abuse is the most common and happens when a spouse can’t take responsibility for their actions and has to blame their spouse for things they often don’t have anything to do with.

Examples: “You are the reason why we are never on time for anything! 

“It’s because of you that I didn’t get that job promotion.”


Accusations often stem from a spouse having severe jealously, or because maybe they have lost trust because of previous things. We should never accuse someone of doing something and if we believe something has been done, we should talk about it before making any accusations. Accusations most often turn out to be false. We need to be very careful what we accuse someone with as it can cause significant damage and never be undone.

Examples: “Your late for dinner, is there another woman or something.”

“I saw the way you were looking at him, you must not love me.” 


Withholding happens in may forms. It could be not answering your spouses calls, or refusing to talk to them. It could also be withholding sex or other things from your spouse until they give you what you want. This kind of abuse happens all the time. We even did a podcast on it that you can listen to HERE. Almost every couple at some point in their marriage has withheld until they get what they want.

Example: Women will often withhold sexual intimacy from their husband until they get what they want.

Men will often withhold things from their wife until they get the sexual intimacy (or what they want).


Gaslighting happens when you discount your spouse feelings and emotions leaving them to wonder if they are wrong. This is a very common form of emotional abuse and it can make the spouse feel isolated and not wanting to express their feelings. This is a very toxic behavior and is also manipulative as it often gets the abused apologizing for something they never did.

Examples: “Why are you always so emotional and sensitive about everything?” 

Circular Arguments

There are many couples that seem to just love to argue about everything. What movie is good, what food is the best. No matter what they are talking about, they seem to thrive on arguing. This can be draining and make you feel like you are always walking on eggshells.

If any of these types of abuse are happening in your relationship either knowingly or unknowingly, you need to reverse course. If you are a spouse that is the abuser, stop it. If you are a spouse that is getting abused, don’t put up with it anymore. Sit down together as a couple and talk about how to get this behavior out of your marriage and change course for the good.

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