Defining Emotional Abuse: Using Anger as Weaponry

“Emotional abuse” often feels like a heavy and serious accusation, especially when combined with the words “anger” and “weaponry.” Yet living in an emotionally abusive relationship takes a heavy toll on your mental and physical health and your self-esteem, not to mention the relationship itself. Maybe you’ve wondered if your relationship is emotionally abusive. Your partner’s actions are hurtful, but are they bad enough to be considered abuse? One of the most harmful and insidious aspects of emotional abuse is that it can be difficult to recognize. This article will help you better understand what emotional abuse is, and help
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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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A Training Plan for Change

“Resilience isn’t how far you bounce when you hit the floor. It’s how you use what you’ve got left to work with to make something great.” – Author Unknown There’s something in our hearts that comes alive when we hear a story of courage, valor, and impossible odds. Hence, the latter part of the quote above gives us a much more meaningful definition of resilience than the first sentence, which speaks of resilience as if it were a passive act. Resilience is, in fact, active, creative, and inspiring—what will you do to make it work with what you’ve got? When
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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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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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