A New Year, A New You

For many people, January is a time of renewed hope and a fresh start. Marking a new year often means closing one chapter and viewing the next with new purpose and expectation. But this is not the case for those stuck in emotionally abusive relationships. Their vision is obscured by the trauma of their experience, which feeds two big lies to them: 1) Everything is a threat, and nothing is to be trusted and 2) I have no power to effect the change needed to free or protect myself. It may be that you’re not feeling hopeful or confident that
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Defining Emotional Abuse, Part 3: 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, Part 2: 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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Resilience: A Powerful Plan For A Relationship 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 relationship story of courage, valor, and impossible odds.  The latter part of the quote above gives us a much more meaningful definition of being resilient than the first sentence, which speaks of resilience as if it were a passive act, but instead, it is active, creative, and inspiring. Psychological Resilience, as defined in Wikipedia, “is the ability to mentally
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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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5 Amazing Myths of 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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Growing Marriage: Take A Look In The Mirror

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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