Answer © copyright 2005 by Lynette J. Hoy, NCC, LCPC
you are not alone. Many women are suffering in marriages such as yours. You need to learn how to cope and how to take better care of yourself. through building your self-esteem, relationship with God, assertiveness skills and getting some support. I would encourage you to begin to take some of the following steps:
Please call the National Domestic Violence hotline for resources at: 1-800-799-7233 or
- contact AACC for a referral to a mental health professional. You need to get some counseling and resources. You need to get some counseling to help you learn how to cope, be more assertive and build your self-esteem. Remember- protection and safety are the most important concerns you have. If your husband is threatening you - you need to get to a safe place!
- Get close to God. You need faith. You need spiritual strength and focus. You need to know that the God of the universe cares about you and your situation. Pray. Read your Bible, especially the New Testament book of John, Romans chapters 3-8; the Psalms in the Old Testament: chapters 42, 46, 51, 121, 139, 145 and more. Read
- more about how to grow in your faith in this article: How to Know God personally.
- Go to your family doctor or a psychiatrist for an evaluation about your depression and whether you need an antidepressant. Also, you should have a complete physical to check if your hormones and thyroid are functioning normally because there may be a biological basis for your depression besides this situation. When people have been going through an on-going crisis or stress or conflict they can suffer depression and this depletes the neurochemicals in the brain which affect a person's mood. Read my article on depression and take the inventory.
- Your husband may benefit from an anger management program. See What's Good About Anger? for information on the courses and book. Ask your husband to attend counseling with you or a marriage retreat. If your husband is a true batterer - he will need to take a Batterer's Intervention Program offered at a local domestic violence agency. Read this book together: A Christian Guide to Fighting for Your Marriage by Scott Stanley, Howard Markman, Susan Blumberg, Dean Edell. You can order it right now.
- Grow in assertiveness skills. Read Assert Yourself and order books such as: What's Good About Anger?, and Asserting Yourself.
- You need to take a time-out when your husband becomes verbally abusive. After the time-out period (30 minutes to one hour) you can talk with him about the issue and both make some requests. Make sure you talk about the issue within 24 hours. If he follows you around the house verbally abusing you then you may need to leave the house until he can calm down.
The reason that you feel so confused, depressed and fatigued is that you feel helpless and hopeless about your marriage and the emotional pain you feel when he is verbally abusing you. Assertiveness, counseling, faith, friends who are supportive, a church where you can get pastoral guidance and prayer from others, reading the Bible, and medication can all help you to improve your communication skills, coping skills and provide you with spiritual strength.
- You can change even if your husband doesn't change. And you can investigate how you may be contributing to the problems and how to change your behavior which may be provoking your husband to anger. Proverbs 15:1 reads: "a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger." NIV
Your husband needs to be responsible for his behavior. There is no guarantee that when you change.....he will.
Men have a tendency to want to fix problems quickly in a marriage, but one can't fix a relationship, one has to learn skills in communication and conflict management to build the relationship.
- Take care of yourself. Get some exercise. Think about going back to school or getting a part-time job. Take some time to get together with friends.
I hope this will give you hope and encouragement.
Many times verbal and mental abuse will escalate. You need to be prepared with a safety plan. See: Safe Relationships for information on how to protect yourself. Talk with a pastor and seek domestic violence resources. Read: What Does it Mean to Be a Submissive Wife?
Do what you can to grow in Christ, get fellowship and support in a local church.
God bless you!
Lynette Hoy, NCC, LCPC