When all is not well at home..
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices in the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
An abuser is..
..impatient, unkind, jealous, boastful, proud, rude, self-seeking, easily angered and keeps a record of wrongs when it comes to his wife. He delights in evil because ‘power and control’ is his drug of choice. He struggles to see truth. He does not protect or trust. He does not hope or persevere in loving her as Christ loves the church.
Instead, he gives in to his need to control, to crush and to diminish the value of his wife: a need born out of his own brokenness and insecurity. He is so blinded by this that he cannot see the damage he is causing. He has slowly but surely crushed her spirit over the years.
All the anger he has inside is taken out on her when the front door closes. He feels entitled to check on her, to question her, to dictate to her, to threaten her – even though he is not. He has dragged her into his world and she lives in fear of the next thing that will enrage him.
Life for her is about avoiding the next explosion, the next criticism, the next put-down. Maybe if she comes home when he wants her to, he won’t get upset; maybe if she wears what he likes, cooks what he likes, tidies how he likes, gives him sex as often as he likes… he won’t get upset.
Not so. No matter how hard she tries, the criticism comes.. sooner or later. She lives with a sinking sense of inadequacy and failure to perform. He has made it clear. Life is about him and his needs.
Over time the effects of abuse take hold. She finds herself doubting her own abilities and depression creeps in. She may not even realize that she is being abused. After all.. he is not horrible all of the time. Sometimes he says sorry after an episode and seems to want to make it right.
So she blames herself. Confusion has distorted the truth. He has told her that if she didn’t do the things she does, then he wouldn’t have to get angry. She believes him. Why? Because she holds on tight to the dream she once had for her marriage. And she presents this image to the outside world, locking inside the pain that she carries.
Neither she nor her husband has any idea how much strain this is putting her under.
So when we reflect on the verse in 1 Corinthians about love, let’s be clear. What I have described here is not love. This is love in reverse. This is abuse.
BA ( Psych) MA ( C ou n s )