Marriage Issues: Stopping Emotional Abuse in Marriage

What is emotional abuse in marriage? It can be hard to quantify since it differs greatly from physical abuse but can be the slippery slope that leads to it.

Emotional Abuse: What You Should Know

Emotional abuse is a topic we get questions about often. So many relationships are suffering from emotional abuse. Stopping emotional abuse should be an affirmative action for each family. We want to make you aware of the signs of emotional abuse, and what it looks like, because many spouses- both the perpetrator and the victim, often do not realize that their marriage is an emotionally abusive one. Emotional abuse, in particular, is one of the trickier marriage issues because it can often slide into other forms of abuse.

More inspiration on stopping emotional abuse in marriage:

Stopping Emotional Abuse – often minimized yet destructive to a marriage

Emotional abuse can be defined as behavior that may “result in psychological trauma.  Here, we explore what emotional abuse can look like in marriage. 

Emotional Abuse Examples

Look out for the signs of emotional abuse below in your relationship.

  • Overly criticizing and blaming – e.g. nothing is ever good enough, finding fault, never noticing/commenting on positive things you say or do
  • Constantly disregarding or distorting – e.g. aversion to recognizing or acknowledging your good points
  • Initiating and perpetuating repetitive periods of prolonged silent treatment, often for trivial reasons
  • Frequently denigrating your achievements, skills and potential
  • Habitually assuming a superior air e.g. by way of sarcastic comments or subtle insinuation
  • Regularly isolating and invalidating you e.g. refusing to remain in your presence– walking out of the room when you enter, acting as if you don’t exist
  • Persistently speaking and acting disrespectfully towards your family/ friends
  • Repeatedly withholding love, affection, and support
  • Overriding your choices e.g. demanding that you cut ties with family/friends, or dress a certain way, do things a certain way
  • Regular shouting and name-calling are more obvious examples of emotional abuse in marriage but the above behaviors are offensive forms of emotional abuse which often overlooked.


To learn how to STOP EMOTIONAL & VERBAL ABUSE and communicate with no blame and no shame, take the 5 step Communication Training.


Emotional Abuse Effects

How Does Emotional Abuse Affect Victims?
Emotional abuse is when a person uses negative language and behavior to manipulate and control another person. Although it may be subtle and difficult to detect, it can still cause the person on the receiving end of it to routinely feel isolated, upset, bewildered, confused, crazy, lacking in confidence, drained, angry, paranoid, nervous, frustrated and/or traumatized.

Unfortunately, many behaviors that constitute emotional abuse are accepted as a matter of course in relationships. Further, it may be the case that the person executing the abuse is unaware of what they are actually doing but likewise the person on the receiving end of the abuse can be unaware that they are being manipulated, not realizing why they feel they must always tiptoe around their partner.

When emotional abuse persists in a marriage or relationship, the groundwork is laid for long-term detrimental consequences. Bonds are broken and unhappiness prevails.

Emotional abuse can be just as devastating as physical or verbal abuse.  Indeed some people who have been subject to physical, verbal and emotional abuse have found the emotional element the most challenging to deal with.

Distinguishing between Emotional Abuse and rare/atypical eruptions of rage

It’s important to note that most everyone has an off day once in a while, perhaps due to stress, sickness or exhaustion.  At such times people may exhibit uncharacteristic shows of anger, antagonism or impatience towards their nearest and dearest but such occasional and manageable outbursts do not constitute emotional abuse. That said, if angry flare-ups are on the increase, do take conscious steps to reduce the contributory stress so that it does not significantly sour on the relationship.

In cases of emotional abuse angry outbursts, and behavior like the examples given at the beginning of this article is the “norm” rather than an infrequent event.

If you are concerned that emotional abuse is present or escalating in your relationship you may wish to consider exploring this through couple counseling with a suitably qualified professional.

For some of you, the signs of emotional abuse provided here may seem obvious, and for some of you, you may have just realized that you are a victim of emotional abuse.

If you’re experiencing what feels like emotional abuse in your marriage, we highly recommend that you talk with us about scheduling a 2-day Marriage Restoration Retreat. People do “bad things” when they feel unsafe and if your marriage hasn’t been safe in a long time then it’s almost like a free for all. You need to reconnect and rebuild hope and trust between the two of you with structure and safety. That is what our Marriage Restoration Retreat provides. Talk with us today about it! Your family needs you.


There’s nothing quite like the power of gaining clarity on a confusing situation. Complete the form below to talk with Rabbi Slatkin to see what he thinks would be best for you and your unique situation.

    You will receive our free 60 Second Plan to a Happy Marriage, along with transformational emails that will help you with your marriage.