Abusers are very deceptive. They will play victim publicly – BLAMING YOU FOR EVERYTHING, that’s wrong with you, them and the relationship. They do this so people can feel sorry for them – NOT YOU! This type of abuse is known as Gaslighting.
Several years ago, Lauren and her husband, Bob, were in a disagreement of sorts regarding the condition of their marriage. A week after celebrating their 5th wedding anniversary, Lauren, who had been unhappy for a long time, decided to have a peaceful conversation with her husband about the state of their marriage.
Lauren wanted more time, love and respect from Bob as she was investing the predominance of emotions in their marriage.
♦He stayed late at work trying to prove himself to his boss and co-workers.
♦He was ‘Johnny on the spot’ in keeping commitments that he made with other people, but, he went back on promises and commitments that he had made and pretended to be surprised when Lauren was upset.
♦He often treated Lauren as if she was just there.
Because they both attended the same church, Lauren was taught to ‘give more’ to her husband in hopes that he would see himself in the future. This also ensured that he didn’t lose any benefits in the marriage, despite the fact that Lauren was losing herself.
Trying To Make a Change – The Explosion
As mentioned, it was a week after their 5th anniversary when she tried to talk to Bob about their marriage. They were at a restaurant enjoying some post-anniversary celebrations. Later they were supposed to go to a special hotel and have some ‘extra’ fun. Bob’s mood was light and relaxed, therefore, this seemed like a perfect time to broach the subject of their marital condition. Since he was feeling light, she thought he’d be in a more agreeable mood.
Nothing could have been farther from the truth.
When Lauren tried to talk to her husband about what was going on in their marriage, Bob became VERY angry and defensive. He had changed from the mild-mannered person that he normally was and began attacking Lauren. His mood went quickly from calm and relaxed to vexing and war-like. Lauren was calm as she tried to explain why she was unhappy, but Bob was on the defense and attacking everything that she said. Not only was he attacking what she said, but he was also playing ‘Word Salad’. In other words, he was tossing the whole conversation around so that his wife would get lost and hardly make a point.
Finally, Lauren had given up and said that they should leave the restaurant. Bob walked dominantly in front of Lauren while she walked behind him in tears. He knew she was in tears but ignoring her wounds made him feel powerful. Upon reaching their vehicle, Lauren took the back seat of the car and lay down and cried. Bob, still feeling powerful, ignored his grieving wife. Once they finally reached their home, Bob asked forcefully, “You getting out?” Surprised that he didn’t even care how she was feeling, she responded that she would stay in the car for a bit.
“How can this be?”, she thought.
“How can the same sweet man that I thought I married turn into such a monster?”
“How is it that every time I go to church to say this is how I’m feeling, they feel sorry for him and defend him?”
“How is it that I am the bad guy in their eyes?”
“How is it that they can’t see what I’m going through and trying to say?”
“I’m trapped. I can’t get out of this marriage.”
“How do I get through this?”
Lauren was left to decide whether or not they’d go on their special date to the hotel. She really wanted to go because she wanted to get out of the house, but how could they go and have a nice time now?
When she told Bob of her suggestion, he didn’t object. He proceeded to call the hotel to cancel the reservations. He didn’t do anything to try to fix it. “Why didn’t he fight for me?” she thought. When they were engaged and a major issue came up that threatened their upcoming nuptials, he tried to work it out. Hard. Now it seemed that it was easy to turn a blind eye to her. Too easy.
Lauren decided to call a friend to tell them about what happened. This was their reply, “Relax. Try to make the best of the remainder of the evening and when everything is good and calm ask him these words – Honey, why is it when you saw that I was upset and hurt that you didn’t reach out to me – and see what he says.” The friend encouraged her to continue the nice evening and go to the hotel.
She thanked her friend and went on.
Sucking It Up – Ugh!
Upon arriving at the hotel, Bob’s behavior had changed. He was now on his best behavior. It was clear that he was trying to make up for his outburst before – without apologizing. Looking back now, she wondered if he was acting ‘all nice like’ because he knew that she had informed one of their friends of his behavior.
As the evening progressed, she asked him the following words. This was his reply, “I didn’t reach out to you ‘cause I was mad.”
Needless to say, they had sex. Lauren felt it necessary to moan to show that she was enjoying the experience. She had been taught to ‘humble’ herself in her home. Since she was a woman and Bob was a man – and men were typically proud – he could easily be nice IF she was more humble. The experience was often degrading, but she felt that this is what she had to do to have a happy home. She felt that her being unhappy now would all be worth it later. It was only a hope because she was so unhappy and had been for the majority of their 5-year marriage.
Switching The Blame
Upon going to church the next day, the friend that Lauren had called approached Bob and asked him why did he act that way toward Lauren. This time, his reply was very different. This time it was time for a victim’s reply. This time he said, “I wanted to reach out to her but I was scared that she was going to reject me.” For this, the friend went back to Lauren, feeling that the hubby was the innocent victim, forgetting how he behaved, telling her that he was just scared to make it right.
Do you see the difference in the responses?
Response to the wife: I didn’t reach out to you ‘cause I was mad.
Response to the friend: I wanted to reach out to her but I was scared that she was going to reject me.
The response that he gave to the friend caused the friend to forget how he had behaved. It made Lauren seem like she was the ‘nightmare on wheels’ because she was the one to be feared. This caused Bob to appear to be the victim because he was only lightly dealt with regarding his behavior. As always, it was Lauren that had to change and be sweeter toward Bob to get her desired results.
Another thing that frustrated Lauren was how nicey, nicey he behaved publicly. To all of their friends Bob seemed like a sweet man that just needed a wife’s help. They didn’t see how intentional he could be. Interestingly, they didn’t seem to care how she was faring. She knew if she left the marriage, most of ‘their’ friends would blame her. She felt as though she didn’t have any choices.
With Bob’s behavior virtually unchecked, this made him free to go and be himself while Lauren had to be on extra good behavior. In other words, Bob didn’t lose anything. He continued to fly under the radar having people feel sorry for him while Lauren gave and lost everything – including herself.