No Small Things

06 May 2011

If you really love someone the small things will take care of themselves. Right or wrong?

In a relationship, what matters is getting the big things right, right? Get them right and the small things are just, well, ‘details’…


But take a moment to think about it. How many fights have you had with your abusive partner about the small stuff, the petty, silly, unimportant things?

There is a reason for that – and it may not be what you think.

Why does an abusive partner pick so many fights about trivia; like having his socks paired in the drawer, the precise time his meal is on the table, or the ‘look on your face’ when you spoke to another man.

Most of the fights you’ve had with your abusive partner have probably been about unimportant things.

Why is that?

Sure, he loves the payoff of making you feel bad. But there’s more…

Small things give him tremendous scope to practise his abusive art.

Let’s look at one such scenario.

You go to the supermarket and forget to buy an item you needed. Possibly you forgot because you’re so overstretched by the demands of the relationship that your short term memory isn’t working too well. Unwisely, you ask him:

“Would you mind stopping by the supermarket and getting that item for me?”

What does he say?

He could say a straight “No”, or “Why can’t you go back and get it” – even if there is a good reason why you can’t. But suppose he says “Yes”.

He could stop there, but most likely he doesn’t. Instead he says: “You’ve just been to the supermarket. Why didn’t you get it?” (With that question, it’s stopped being a small thing and become An Issue.)

Then he adds a little word that deftly raises the temperature. He says: “You always forget something.” (In reality, that’s a nonsense you don’t always do anything; human beings are just not that consistent. But “always”, “never” and “ever” – as in “can’t you ever?” – are great for escalating conflicts.

He adds the personal attack: “What’s wrong with you, anyway?” and the belittling comment: “Are you stupid, or something?”

And, for good measure, he can throw in a comment intended to make you feel guilty, such as: “I work all day/all week/really hard, and when I get home and just want a little peace and quiet, I have to…”

By now, he has worked himself up beautifully, hurt and humiliated you with his unjustified remarks, and he can either go for an all out fight, or let it go… Until the next time.

This failure will be stored with all your other failures, and trotted out, by him, whenever the time is right; which it will be, over and over again.

The point of this illustration is for you to see how it works, how an abuser assembles various pieces from his abusive arsenal.

What happens inside you when you experience that kind of unwarranted attack? I’m guessing you feel bad, unlovable. You have to ask yourself whether his attacks on you are justified, or not. You probably feel shame. You may well find yourself regressing, emotionally, to the frightened little girl you once were.

One item forgotten at the supermarket – or any other small mistake or omission – and your abusive partner reopens at least 4 of the 7 wounds that mark all abusive women.

How would the scenario pan out in a healthy relationship?

Your partner would smile and say: “Ok, I’ll get it for you, no worries.”

If you frequently forgot things, then each of you might think: “What can I do to change this situation? How can I spare my partner time and trouble?”

You would be able to talk about it together – without using dirty little words, like “never”, and “always”; without blame, without personal attacks, and without the old fear and shame kicking in.

In fact, being able to talk it through together – the ‘T’ word that has no place in abusive relationships – would increase the mutual regard and trust. You would feel safe. You’d feel that your voice was heard, and your viewpoint mattered.

And the underlying wounds could finally start to heal.

If you want a relationship that starts out good and goes on getting better, I can help you to get yourself to the place where it can happen for you.

But before it can, you have to heal the 7 Wounds that keep you stuck, like a fly in amber, in the damaging world of emotional abuse.

To change your world for the better, CLICK HERE


Annie Kaszina, international Emotional Abuse Recovery specialist and award-winning author of 3 books designed to help women recognise and heal from toxic relationships so that they can build healthy, lasting relationships with the perfect partner for them, blogs about all aspects of abuse, understanding Narcissists and how to avoid them and building strong self-worth. To receive Annie’s blog direct to your Inbox just leave your details here.

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