Being in an intimate, committed relationship means opening yourself up to one another. In the process of constantly working through your thoughts and feelings together, you can form certain coping and communication habits that aren’t exactly healthy. Though you’re confident that there is no physical abuse in your marriage, you should reflect on whether there are other insidious forms of abuse taking place, like emotional abuse.
The tricky thing about this type of abuse is that it is subtle, but no less damaging than other overt forms of abuse.
Checking your motives and behavior can keep you from becoming complacent and it is an essential part of strengthening your marriage.
Watch out for these signs that you’re on your way to becoming emotionally manipulative towards your spouse.
1. You always have to have the last word
It doesn’t matter if you’re having a heated argument or just deciding where to go for dinner, you always have to have the last word. Though it’s healthy to have open communication, the danger lies in viewing your opinion as superior. You may not be aware you’re doing it, but if you notice how you constantly cut your partner off during discussions and refuse to listen, then you may be becoming manipulative without realizing it.
2. You criticize them constantly
Do you criticize or make fun of them? Making jokes at their expense is a sign of disrespect. You may not even realize it, but you have a habit of making your partner feel inferior. Disguising criticism as humor and sarcasm is a way to disempower and ridicule. Are you guilty of this? It’s not too late to change! Make an effort to build your partner up, to empower them, instead of tearing them down.
3. You are becoming overly co-dependent
Does it bother you when your spouse pursues hobbies and interests outside your marriage? Do you find yourself lashing out because of insecurities you can’t seem to shake? Be careful not to burden your spouse too much. Allow them some freedom. It’s important to give your better half room to grow.
4. You make them feel guilty
In the same vein, you might be becoming emotionally manipulative if you find yourself playing the “victim” in order to make your partner feel guilty or control their behavior. Once you’re upset, do you give your partner the silent treatment, knowing that they will go out of their way to woo you? This is a form of manipulation that shouldn’t become a habit.
5. You don’t value their opinion
Do you find yourself excluding your partner when making decisions? Maybe you should evaluate how you can trust and respect your partner more. Marriage is, after all, a partnership. But it doesn’t become solid overnight, it requires patience, love, and the humility to accept what we need to change to become the partner the one we love deserves.
sources: Psychology Today, The Huffington Post, Family Share
READ: 7 Behaviors that look like love, but are actually emotional abuse