Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband? is a question I am very rarely asked. This is actually quite surprising – when you think that I’ve spent 12+ years working with thousands of women who are waking up to the realization that they’ve been trapped in emotionally abusive relationships. These women have begun to realize the relationship is so bad that they may well need to walk away…
At this point, with the light is finally starting to dawn, and difficult decisions leading to long-term consequences needing to be made, you might think these women would finally be asking themselves:
Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband?
But they do not. Instead, their internal inquiry goes like this.
“How can I possibly do this thing? Can I really survive without him? Will I be making the biggest mistake of my life? What will people say? What am I doing to the children? What if it’s all my fault? How is he going to take this?” What will he say? What will he do? Can we do this amicably?”
What they’re doing is actually turning their internal spotlight on all the things that will NOT help them move forward.
However, since these questions can become an obsession and take up an awful lot of valuable emotional for no useful purpose, here are the best answers my professional experience can offer – albeit in shorthand form:
- “Can I do this thing?” Absolutely! Plenty of other women have done just that and gone on to live fulfilling lives. But the process is not risk-free. You will need to protect your physical safety and financial interests throughout the process of extricating yourself from the relationship.
- “Can I survive without him?” You bet. But a better question is: how much longer can you survive with him?
- “Will I be making the biggest mistake of my life?” Staying is a far bigger mistake.
- “What will people say?” Whatever the hell they like! You can’t stop them, so why agonize over it? Their opinion is acutely important to them: it needn’t be important to you.
- What am I doing to the children?” Nothing is as bad as subjecting them to the hell of a toxic marriage.
- “What if it’s all my fault?” It really ISN’T. This mess could never have happened without his expert input.
- “How is he going to take this?” The same way he takes all the other things that get up his nose: badly.
- “What will he say?” Whatever he thinks will best serve his purpose. Rest assured, it won’t be pleasant. No surprise there, then!
- “Can we do this amicably?” No! You’ve had a toxic marriage. Here’s how it works: a toxic marriage is never going to lead to an amicable divorce.
- “What is he feeling?” You could be surprised by what’s really going through his head.
To put it as simply as possible: by the time a woman starts to think about leaving her emotionally abusive relationship, her husband has become her adversary.
She already has as much evidence as she could ever need to know that he is someone who fights dirty.
Under the circumstances, the question: Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband? should be starting to look a tad naive.
However, maybe it’s not that quite that simple.
Given that most women who are in the process of leaving an emotionally abusive partner know what they would like to see and hear, and can easily disregard what does not fit with that, let’s drill a little deeper.
“Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband to behave like the civilized person I think he should be?”
Should you stop trusting your emotionally abusive husband to behave like the civilized person that he might argue that he is)?
This is a coaching conversation I have over and over again. Often with the same clients who struggle to believe their emotionally abusive husband is as black-hearted as he shows every sign of being.
An emotionally abusive husband has NOTHING to gain by being civilized. You already know that Sweet Reason, and Caring & Sharing are not his favorite ways of showing up in the relationship.
He is NOT going to have the personality transplant now.
His aim is damage limitation. He either wants to stop you from making good your ‘threat’, or else, minimize the cost to himself. He has no intention of losing face, or losing out financially, just because you want out of the relationship.
So, what possible reason would he have for behaving like a civilized person – always assuming that he knows how?
“Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband – when he threatens me?”
Emotionally abusive husbands and partners are not always out and out liars. There are times when they tell the truth.
The problem is, their truths are far less palatable than their lies. That’s why emotionally abused women try so hard to disregard those truths.
However, when an emotionally abusive husband comes out with threats, you need to sit up and listen carefully. You have to believe he could well be telling the truth. At the very least, he is sharing his intentions with you. He wants to cow you into submission, and he is telling you that he will do whatever it takes to hurt and diminish you.
The wake-up call
In fact, what we are really looking at is your wake-up call. You trusted that man to be everything that you wanted him to be – and hoped that he could be.
Trust is a fine thing. However, in the real world, Trust needs to be earned. An emotionally abusive husband never actually works to keep your trust. (He likely never even bothered to earn it.) Your trust is useful to him. However, it does not place him under any moral obligation – as you may well have noticed.
- With Trust off the menu, you need to take a good look at what the evidence suggests and what you can – reasonably – believe about him?
- If he has threatened to make you miserable, has he done so?
- When he has promised you good things, have they materialized? If so,have they provided you with the satisfaction you hoped for?
Your wake-up call comes when you realize that his intention for the “relationship” is to keep you feeling unsafe and under attack. That, if you like, is the “job description” of an emotionally abusive husband.
Your job is to show up for yourself – instead of relying on your biggest detractor to do right by you. Life starts to look up when you understand that an emotionally abusive husband is committed to doing you down – NOT doing right by you. and make sure both you and he understand that his days of doing you down are OVER.
My lovely client S. was in the process of divorcing a dastard* when we started working together. Her dastard was cunning, manipulative, and would stop at nothing to do her down. She would have liked to trust him to be better than he was, but doing so would have led to her losing out big time.
Instead, we looked at how to contain and outwit the dastard – purely with a view to safeguarding S.s interests.
S. soon realized that when she allowed the Dastard to set the agenda, she lost every time. When she took charge of the way she showed up in a situation, the Dastard withdrew and regrouped.
Once S stopped hoping the Dastard would show up as a sanitized version of himself, she found she. actually had a lot more room for manoeuvre than she’d thought. The more she showed up as an empowered adult woman, the better things worked for her.
Should I stop trusting my emotionally abusive husband? is an important question for an emotionally abused woman to ask herself. But there is a better one. It goes like this: “Isn’t it time I started trusting and believing in myself?” If this article resonates with you, chances are it will resonate with many other women who are trying to free themselves from an emotionally abusive relationship and feel good about themselves. Please share on social media to get the word out there. And if you are struggling to divorce successfully, and need support fighting your corner, drop me an email.
* objectionable person who behaves in a dastardly way
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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