Lisa asks: "Do emotional abusers change?”
Her husband is an abuser, and she is concerned about her future. She doesn't want to live in an emotional abuse marriage and subject to her children to this relationship sickness.
Before answering this question, if you think you might be in an emotionally abusive relationship, the first thing you need to do is to know the difference between a difficult marriage and an emotionally abusive relationship.
A difficult marriage
In a difficult marriage, the fight is typically about a particular issue. For example, you may want to save money or your wife wants to spend money or you want to spend more time together as a family, and your husband wants to go golfing with his buddies. Typically in a difficult marriage, the trigger for arguments are different opinions regarding what to do or what not to do.
An emotionally abusive relationship
An emotionally abusive relationship it is characterized by one individual who wants to lord over his or her partner. The abuser overtime chips away at his partner’s self-esteem reducing resistance until he or she has undisputed dominance within the relationship. Typically, the aggression is verbal. However, sometimes it can turn violent with hitting, pushing or assault with a weapon.
For example, Don who is an abusive husband, tells his wife Karen who can and who cannot be her friends. He believes he can control her social life and that he knows what is best for her. Because Don is jealous, he has objected to and found ways to eliminate all of Karen's friends.
For example, Sharon, who is an emotionally abusive wife, feel she has the right to manage every free moment of her husband's time. As soon as Tom comes home from work, she has a long list of what he must do. If he fails to comply, she becomes extremely angry and threatens to leave him. Tom feels hopeless, and he is depressed. He is also fearful that if he leaves the marriage, Sharon will turn her tyranny on their three children. So he stays, hoping to protect them.
Take the free emotional abuse test and find out if you are being abused. Click or tap here: Emotional abuse test
Emotional abusers can change if they have these five character traits
Our question: "Do emotional abusers change?”
The simple answer is, it depends on the person who is behaving abusively. If the abuser has the following characteristics, it is highly probable that he or she will change for the better — if he or she wants. Devoid of the following five characteristics, the likelihood of positive change decreases significantly.
If an abuser is to change, he or she must be able to recognize that he or she is behaving badly. The starting point of all self-improvement requires recognizing that he or she can do better.
Within a relationship, learning how to behave better requires the ability to distinguish between one's behavior and the behavior of one's partner. Identifying that one's behavior is the source of at least part of the problem — and perhaps the entire problem — is being objective.
The abusive person must accept responsibility for his or her behavior. In other words, he or she cannot blame his or her partner for the ALL the bad behavior. Taking responsibility means showing remorse for past behavior and a willingness to find ways to prevent the bad behavior from happening again in the future.
Once Responsibility is accepted, then a decision can be made regarding what to do about patterns of abusive behavior. If there is no acceptance of responsibility, then there will only be blame, avoidance, and no positive change will be possible.
Humility is an essential ingredient if an abuser is to change. Humility is like grease between two gears. Humility gives the abuser the strengths to say," I am wrong and I am sorry." Humility leads to remorse for having hurt his life partner and others.
The opposite of humility is arrogance and stubborn defiance. If the abuser puts forth those bad character traits, he or she will never change.
If the abuser gets to the point where he or she has decided to make positive changes in his or her behavior for the benefit of the relationship, he or she needs to carefully monitor his or her behavior. The emotionally abusive husband or the emotionally abusive wife needs to replace "abusive behavior" with kindness, tolerance and sensitivity.
The emotionally abusive husband or the emotionally abusive wife needs to be careful how he or she thinks (reasonable expectations), speaks (gently without anger) and behaves (with kindness and sensitivity).
Your abusive partner may have many of the above positive character traits. However, this is not enough. Your partner needs to be sufficiently motivated to want to do whatever it takes to stop the abuse.
For example, the emotionally abusive husband or the emotionally abusive wife must want a healthy and happy marriage or committed relationship. And your partner must be prepared to sacrifice his or her wants to achieve these marital goals.
Conclusion: An emotionally abusive wife or an emotionally abusive husband and change
You and your partner must accept that eliminating emotional abuse and then living peacefully and respectfully together — is the best thing for each of you.
Living together peacefully as a family is important for every member. This is especially true if you have children in your family.
Breaking your family has many risks. Typically, children do not do well with separation or divorce.
Knowing this, leaving your abusive partner should not be your first choice. Divorce should be considered only if the abuse is unrelenting and beyond repair. Consider professional from a qualified relationship specialist if needed.
You can find caring relationship specialist here: American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy
Abusive families are unhappy places for all who live there. Your home should not be like a jungle where the "strongest" gets his or her way. Families need to be a civilized place to live, were the core values of love, respect and honor permeate the home environment.
Family members who have more should help family members who have less. Justice and kindness are what sets us apart from animals and is a universal principal that should be recognized and observed by all.
Understanding all of this will then sufficiently motivate both of you to do your parts to overcome the abuse and reestablish trust and closeness.
Positive change can take time. The victim of emotional abuse needs to be patient and understand this. Slow and steady progress towards a more respectful and harmonious life together as a husband and wife or committed couple is definitely worth the effort and time needed.
An emotionally abusive husband or an emotionally abusive wife should not be just tolerated. Emotional abuse injures everyone exposed to it!
Yes, you can eliminate emotional abuse in your relationship; emotional abusers can — and do — change. Doing so requires objectivity, responsibility, humility, self-discipline and motivation.
Wishing you and your family the very best,
Marriage and family therapist Abe Kass, MA, RSW, RMFT
Emotional abuse solutions
Hi, this is Abe Kass, the author of this awareness guide on emotional abuse and psychological abuse.
I have also written an essential guide to lead you forward if you are living in a relationship that is characterized by emotional abuse. My booklet, The 15 Essential Facts Victims of Emotional Abuse Need to Know is your map to relationship freedom.
In my book I will show what you need to know about your current situation, what are your realistic options, and what you need to do to exit yourself from a life of emotional abuse. As well, I will discuss briefly other types of abuse such as psychological abuse, verbal abuse, domestic violence, and sexual abuse.
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