Why Women Stay With An Emotionally Abusive Husband

24 May 2016

Why women stay with an emotionally abusive husband long after they should have left is a mystery to the people who stand on the sidelines looking on. Onlookers cannot understand what drives a woman to keep on giving a toxic relationship chance after chance, in the hope that it will mutate into something beautiful.

Even those women who stay with an emotionally abusive husband don’t understand exactly why they do it. Eventually they will walk away.

When they finally walk away, these women who have suffered so much still don’t let themselves off the ‘hook’ of abuse.  They don’t see that the reason why they stayed was because they didn’t understand what was really going on.  Instead, they continue to subject themselves to the same kind of verbal abuse as Mr Nasty inflicted upon them by calling themselves,

  • Stupid
  • Cowardly
  • Spineless
  • Pathetic
  • Crazy, and
  • Broken

Reasons why women stay with an emotionally abusive husband

When asked outright, why they stay(or stayed) with a husband who constantly hurt and humiliated them, common replies include:

  • “I can’t manage financially without him.”
  • “It’s better for the kids to have two parents.”
  • “I still love him.”
  • “I’ll never get anyone else as good again.”
  • “It’s better to have someone than nobody.”
  • “If I just try harder, maybe I can still make it work.”
  • “It was great at the start.”
  • “I can’t take responsibility for destroying the family.”
  • “I still think he/ the relationship has so much potential.”

In my time, I’ve been guilty of storing all sorts of left-over items of food in my refrigerator that I might find a use for one day.  Mostly, I don’t.  Life moves on. I need to produce healthy meals each day, rather that waste precious brain-power wondering how I can recycle half a cup of rich chocolate icing, or whatever.  I did have one friend who kept recycling her left-overs, as many times as it took (at breakfast, lunch, and dinner) until every last molecule was consumed.  But that’s unusual.

Mostly, the ‘maybe’ left-overs that find their way into the refrigerator sit there, gradually deteriorating, until you make the only sane decision, and trash them.

Emotionally abusive relationships are actually ‘maybe’ left-overs that keep on deteriorating, until you finally consign them to the trash.

Still, the question remains, why do women really stay so long with an emotionally abusive husband?

All the reasons already cited are partial truths.  Underpinning them all lies one common thread.

The real reason why women don’t leave

The real reason why women stay with an emotionally abusive partner is this: they do not believe in themselves enough to leave.

Having worked with so many women who were sick and tired of feeling tethered for life to an emotionally abusive husband (plus having been there myself, of course) I know the real reason.

Women stay with an emotionally abusive relationship because

They do not feel that they are enough.

They do not feel they are enough, in their own right, to create the life, the career, the financial security, or the family that they want for themselves.

They don’t feel they are enough to live their own dreams, or even listen to the urging of their own hearts.

I know these women would argue that it is their hearts that tell them stay.  However, the reality is slightly different:

Women stay with an emotionally abusive husband for as long as they do because their HURT (rather than their heart) tells them to stay.

Any woman who has stayed in emotionally abusive relationship believes, first and foremost, that nothing will ever heal her broken heart.

That, of course, is another misunderstanding.  No emotionally abusive man will ever heal your heart.  He’s the one who broke it in the first place – and thoroughly enjoyed doing so.

He’s a love-breaker, not a love –maker.

An emotionally abusive husband LOVES the ‘good’ feelings he gets from the bad feelings he inflicts – on you.

Women stay with an emotionally abusive husband because they don’t want to believe that their man is who he really is.  They feel powerless in the relationship and therefore want to reclaim their power by healing the relationship – and turning Mr Nasty into Prince Charming.

Why problem-solving from the outside in doesn’t work

Because emotionally abused women really don’t see themselves, they think that the only way to resolve their problems is from the outside in.  They only have to reboot the relationship – running an entirely different program of course  (a little like trying to run Mac software on a Microsoft system or vice versa) – and everything will be perfect.  Including them.

Women who stay with an emotionally abusive husband believe that the solution to their relationship problems will be the solution to all their problems.

That can never happen.

The only solution to emotional abuse that works is working through an effective healing program.  Human beings, including emotionally abused women, are far more resilient, than they know.

Women stay with an emotionally abusive husband because they are prepared to lavish their time and effort on anyone and anything except themselves.  Nothing will change until that changes. They only have to learn to lavish 10% of the care on themselves that they lavished on the relationship to turn their lives around.

Warm wishes for your healing and happiness,

Annie Kaszina


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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