Abuse comes in many different forms. In the case of spousal abuse that is doubly troubling as when there is limited physical or no physical aspect to it people tend to ignore the warning signs. I know I did. I was in an abusive relationship for years and never realized it until the very end when the physical abuse kicked in from time to time. Only then did all the pieces come together for me and I then realized I needed to get us both into therapy to deal with the problem. Unfortunately I never had the chance to do that as my ex walked out on us to be with his mistress before that could happen.
So what were those signs I missed… First off, he was controlling. His comments about some of my friends cost me those friendships. When the man you love says he can’t stand so-and-so and you want to be with your man for the long haul and not annoy him with your friend you slowly do less and less with that person until the friendship dies off. This happened to me with a few of my friends. My ex claimed not to like them (probably because they saw him for what he truly was) and did his best to discourage me from seeing my friends and spending any time with them. Eventually, the relationships changed and now while I am still friends with a few of these people the closeness and ability to count on one another no matter what is no longer there. He so isolated me from everyone that I used to be friends with so that I now have to rebuild friendships or make new ones to take their place.
My ex also controlled my life in other ways. Since he never valued me for me he never put me first in anything. We always did what he wanted to do and rarely did anything I really wanted to do. If he needed or wanted something I took care of it because I loved him and cared for him. If on the other hand I needed something or wanted something I had to get it for myself or live without. We basically had a one sided relationship that I had never realized was so one sided until we were apart. When one partner decides that their needs take constant precedence over the other partners needs to the point of suppressing their partners needs it is a form of abuse.
I also never realized how oppressed I was by him. I never realized the weight on my shoulders every day wondering who would be coming in the door today, the loving husband, the cranky assed husband, the loving father, the indifferent father, the angry annoyed husband, the helpful partner, the recluse, or simply the jerk I married. Yes there were times he was a good husband and father but those times were few and did not last long before reverting to indifference or anger or just plain sleeping all day and ignoring us all.
So why did I a smart woman put up with all this? Well, at first I did not realize it was happening because it all happened slowly over time. And when you love someone, really love them with all your heart, you want to please them and make them happy. My problem was I didn’t realize until it was too late that I was not happy. I was too busy taking care of everyone else that I did not take care of myself. It was only when he left that I realized how oppressed my life was and how much happier I was without him there.
So for all you women out there who find themselves oppressed and working hard to please a partner who does not care enough to treat them with respect. Remember this, you are an abused spouse just as I was. Please reach out to whomever you can and get the help you need. You deserve better! We all do!