Defining Emotional Abuse: An Assault on Identity, Worth, and Value

Emotional abuse is rampant in our culture of entitlement and autonomy. It is an element in almost every divorce. Here at the Marriage Recovery Center, our working definition of emotional abuse is an ongoing pattern of defensive behaviors used to gain and maintain power and control in a relationship.  At its core, emotional abuse is an assault against one’s personhood. The assault is multi-faceted: targeting identity, worth and value; twisting perception of reality; disregarding emotions and lacking empathy; and using anger  as weaponry. This blog is part of a series that covers each of those aspects. I will be focusing
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Separation: A Time for Reflection and Growth

In marriages characterized by coercion and destructiveness, a separation can create space for healing and open the door for potential reconciliation. It allows for time away from the destructive environment and constant triggers. There’s an old saying, “If you love someone, set them free, and if they come back to you, it was meant to be.” I don’t think life is really as fatalistic as that, but there is definitely something to be said for the deeper element of free will. When free will is taken out of the picture, love ceases to be love. If love is coerced, demanded,
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How God Wants to Transform Us

Most people assume they have clear thinking. They believe their thoughts are logical. Therefore, when people disagree with them, they think it is everyone else who is wrong. But can we, ourselves, really be the source of authority for everything? Of course not. We all have thinking errors that are destructive to our life and relationships.
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What it Means to Be a Real Man

Growing up in the United States, I learned that a “real man” was supposed to be tough, self-sufficient, strong, smart, rich, and desired by women. “Real men” don’t lose fights or sporting events. The Old West portrayed men as not needing much for themselves, but willing to die for justice and truth. Good guys were never bad and bad guys, in the end, always lost. On the other end of the spectrum, our present-day culture portrays a very different view of men. Men are often viewed as selfish, sexually charged, uncaring, stoic, and controlling. At the same time, they are
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Is It a Mid-Life Crisis?

It was Socrates who famously said that the “unexamined life is not worth living”. Many of us get to a season in life where we begin to struggle and question everything—who we are, why we’re here, and how to create a life worth living. And while some people think that mood and perspective are all a choice, perhaps sometimes we are at the mercy of life’s natural phases and chapters that are, believe it or not, seemingly hard-wired into our biology. During certain times, we are almost forced to go deeper to find our truth in order to move on
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Of Myths and Men: Men Who Are Abused

Our culture is a hard place to be a man, and even harder for men who are abused. The models of manhood we hold up are more caricatures than truth. On the one hand, you get TV shows like Raymond and King of Queens where men are clueless, large, children who have to be nagged into responsibility and adulthood by their wives. At the other end of ridiculousness is the picture of the action hero who gets shot twice, stabbed 4 times, thrown off a building, and pummeled for 10 straight minutes only to get up and save the day.
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The Mirror in Your Marriage

Want to grow? Try marriage. No, seriously. Marriage is the absolutely best place to grow. I know some of you may think I’ve lost my mind. “Marriage,” you say, “is the last place I grow. It’s the place I cope, struggle, work to recover from.” I understand that. But let’s begin with a quiz. Just give the first answer that comes to your mind. Who knows you better than anyone else? Who has seen you at your absolute worst? Who knows your darkest secrets? Who knows your worst character traits? Who has the greatest power to help you heal from
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Covid 19: An Invitation to Stillness

For many of us, life is usually such a whirlwind of activity that there isn’t room or time to really get things in order. We’re too busy, too rushed, overcommitted, and stretched thin. But what if someone called a big time out? What if life slowed down? What if I got stuck in my house for a few weeks because of a worldwide pandemic? And what if, just maybe, this big time out actually contains an invitation for us? What if it’s an opportunity to look at how we live, what we value, and where our priorities lie? Maybe it
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Changing Your Course with an Intervention

The couples that come to us for help have often landed in a random, dysfunctional, unhealthy place. Frequently, one of them believes the best hope for change is an intervention. They’re at their wits’ end, having repeated a million times in ineffective ways what they are unhappy about. But they’re also not yet ready to walk away from the relationship. If only their spouse could be awakened to the harm and pain and dysfunction! That’s the desperate plea behind the desire to do an intervention. And it’s true that an intervention can be effective in bringing such an awakening. It’s
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Another Fortunate Growth Opportunity

“I blew it again this week,” a man said to me recently. “What happened?” I asked. “I don’t know what I was thinking,” he continued. “My wife reminded me of something she wanted me to do for her and I forgot all about it. Big mistake.” “But, was it a ‘mistake?’” I asked. “Or was this the kind of ‘mistake’ you make on a regular basis?” “Well,” he continued sheepishly, “it is something she has called me on a number of times before. It’s a pattern, I suppose. I just can’t seem to help it.” “So, it’s not really fair
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