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Verbal Abuse in Marriage

2 Mistakes Victims of Verbal Abuse Make That Lead to Unnecessary Divorce

If you’ve been on the receiving end of a rageaholic’s repeated outbursts, you know how devastating it is to be verbally abused.

You know how demeaning, cruel and destructive it is to your self-esteem.

It’s the worst.

When that hurtful scenario keeps recurring, it seems only sane and obvious to get away from that abusive person permanently.

If you have no power to prevent your partner from exploding, what choice does that leave?

The only logical thing to do is divorce.

But what if you could reduce the blow-ups? What if they dwindled down to hardly ever? Or even none at all?

I wouldn’t have believed that was possible if I hadn’t seen it for myself. But now that I’ve also witnessed thousands of other women who have used the Connection Framework in their relationships to create the same outcome, I’m a believer.

You don’t have to take my word for it–you can see for yourself by experimenting in your own verbally abusive relationship.

Most victims of verbal abuse are making at least one of these common mistakes.

Just correcting them will go a long way toward bringing the peace, and with that, the passion and playfulness return.

1. Withholding Oxygen

Silent Treatment in Marriage

One of the mistakes that I made early on in my marriage–and that I see SO many other women making–was being disrespectful to my husband.

And since respect is like oxygen to men, withholding it is a serious problem even if you don’t know that’s what you’re doing.

When I finally learned what respect looks like to men, including my husband, it was a shocker.

If you would have asked me early on if I was respectful to my man, I would have nodded vigorously and said “Oh, yes, I am! Except for the way he watches too much TV, all the junk he eats, what a slob he is and that he doesn’t make enough money.”

As I’m sure you noticed…that wasn’t respectful. At all.

Clearly, I had no idea what respect meant, but I thought I did. I didn’t even realize that I had something to learn because I’d been hearing about respect in marriage all my life and I assumed I understood it and was doing it. Mostly.

I had no idea I was part of the problem. I thought I just married a jerk.

I figured he had an anger problem and he needed to work on it for our relationship to improve.

Until he did, I was getting hurt a lot and it was chipping away at my self-confidence and Joie de viv. And he wasn’t even working on getting better about his verbal abuse as far as I could tell. Which is why divorce was looking like my best option.

What I didn’t realize is that my disrespect was also hurting his self-confidence and Joie de viv. It made him defensive.

No one is at their best when they’re defensive. In fact, people often seem like hostile, vicious donkeys when they’re defensive.

To my husband, my disrespect was devastating.

The pain of knowing that the woman who knows him best in the world didn’t think much of him was too much to bear.

His defense was to be mean back.

That’s not right and it’s not fair, but it is human.

Abby had the same experience. She explained that because she wanted to help him be healthy, she’d told her husband how bad it was for him to drink soda and that he needed to stop–even though he loved to drink soda. His response to her concerned comment was to scream at her that what she said didn’t matter and to shut-the-bleep-up.

She wanted to know what to do about his verbal abuse.

But right there in her question to me is the part where she said, “I know better than you and you’re making a terrible, ignorant choice by drinking soda, you incompetent idiot! ”

Of course, those aren’t the words she used, but that’s how her disrespect landed on her husband’s ears, and that sounds pretty abusive once it’s translated, doesn’t it?

Who wouldn’t be defensive?

If your man’s hostility seems to come from out of nowhere, it may also be his inappropriate response to feeling disrespected.

That’s what it turned out to be in my case, and so many others I’ve witnessed as a relationship coach.

2. Responding to His Verbal Abuse

Responding to Verbal Abuse in Marriage

Maybe you’re not disrespectful at all, or that has nothing to do with the rampages that your man goes on at your expense.

It could be, and often is, that he’s just in a fowl mood and he gets some kind of crazy release from unleashing a truckload of hurtful words on you, just because you happen to be there.

When that happens, it’s scary, and as a mere mortal woman, you feel defensive and hurt.

Maybe you argue with him to set the record straight and it just escalates and ends up being a huge blow-up.

Or maybe you don’t say a word–maybe you clam up and clench your jaw while he berates you. Maybe the tears roll down your cheeks and you just suck it up and hope it passes.

Whether you speak or don’t the hurtful words come.

What then? Is it time to find a divorce lawyer?

The idea is to make yourself safe, and being married to him leaves you feeling like you can’t protect yourself.

It’s as though he’s in charge of whether you’re safe, and you can’t control him, so that makes you his victim. And nobody wants to be a victim.

3. And You Don’t Have to Be the Victim

You can stay safe and teach your man how to treat you by honoring yourself in every moment of verbal abuse.

In other words, you can find safety inside of you instead of getting away from the perpetrator of the verbal abuse that you’re married to.

What if you stopped suffering from verbal abuse because you took care of you whenever it started?

And what if learning some simple procedures and following them just a few times would have him respond to you in a much more mature, calm way?

What if you changing your part of the dance made him behave so much better? Because that’s what I see again and again when women get the Connection Framework.

Of course you can’t change the way he processes his anger. But you can decide not to be the audience for his frightening, hurtful monologue.

Instead of leaving him for good, you can do what thousands of women all over the world have done to heal their relationships from verbal abuse: They learned how to stay with themselves and give themselves what they needed most to feel safe regardless of what her man was saying to her.

Suffering with verbal abuse is no way to live.

No one deserves that. It’s not your fault.

But it is your responsibility to make yourself safe, and it’s within your power.

And the best way to do that is an inside job: Learning the skills that make you safe from within.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

102 replies on “Verbal Abuse in Marriage”

I agree with many commentators. Abuse is Abuse. It’s never justified. In fact, one abusive behavior grows into another, whether it’s verbal, emotional, physical, financial, or sexual. I was actually warned by a friend about my future husband, and since it was a long distance relationship, I was blind to many things. Yet, little did it take for him to show his real face by calling me a *** ** when I first had the audacity to disagree on a point. I thought that I just needed to show more respect, to get counseling, to walk on eggshells, but no, that was in vain. Ten grueling years down the road I hate myself for not leaving that very first time when he did it. I would have saved myself a decade of peace, sanity, health, and mental state.
Now, I’m simply in a survival mode, falling asleep only when he’s gone for work early morning, unable to function and perform daily activities, nor make decisions. The willpower is gone. I really want freedom, but I have no support from the outside, religious abuse is real too, when pastors keep telling you to work things out and close their eyes on issues when you bring them up.
I used to be a cheerful, high achieving person, with master’s degree and excellent career, I’ve been called dumb and stupid by a man with zero education.
In fact, he might be right. Only a dumb person would continue staying in an abusive relationship like this.
So, please, before giving advice to women to tolerate abuse, see how it’s affected thousands of domestic violence victims, and what responsibility lies on those who try to guide and counsel.

Leila, you’re right. Abuse is never justified. No one deserves to be treated the way you’re being treated. I can see why you’re in survival mode after all you’ve been through. I’m heartbroken to hear how you feel. It sounds so grueling and numbing to be stuck in this situation.

I remember feeling stuck and how awful that was. That’s why I hate to see any woman stuck–especially in abuse. That’s why my coaches and I are committed to offering another option when a woman chooses to stay. Because no one deserves to be abused.

I’m sorry but after 48 years this advice is ridiculous. The hurtful insults have nothing to do with cleaning up “ my side of the street” . The rage tornados are not on this side of the street, however the mess is here…. I felt blamed reading your blog…. Ugh ….

Page, I’m sad to hear that you feel blamed reading my post. I hear a big ouch and appreciate your vulnerability. Being insulted is so hurtful and the rage sounds scary. You are not at fault for his anger or comments. No one deserves to be treated that way.

Since I could not control my husband’s behavior, I was not at fault for his choices. But it’s interesting that when I got a new script he did respond differently.

You are the expert on your own life, so only you know whether experimenting wtih a different approach would work for you.

Hi, I am sure this will not be posted, but truly, truly, wow….I can respect that you are encouraging women to endure, grow, and clean themselves up etc., but in reality, abuse is abuse. An abuser is an abuser, plain and simple. I shouldn’t have to control my reactions to things, mitigate verbal abuse, mitigate abusive behaviors, etc., in order to ‘survive’ in my marriage. Simply put, and you should know this, verbal abuse often turns into physical abuse, as it did in my current situation. I have learned to mitigate much of this, but at the end of the day, I am simply training myself to survive through the verbal/mental abuse. I shouldn’t be choked for responding to name-calling in kind. I have learned to mitigate the physical abuse by enduring the name-calling, but should I really have too? Absolutely not. I chose too, because I need to provide financially for my two children. Moreover, upon divorcing, he would just be doing the same thing with another woman, in front of my kids. I am guessing it would be worse, because said woman would not have a vested interest in protecting my children. We are not in the caveman days anymore. Abuse is abuse is abuse. An abuser is the problem, not the person that pissed him off. Geese, it’s absurd that even needs to be said.

Cynthia, you’re right–you should not be treated that way. No one deserves to be treated that way. It’s not your fault. I’m sad to hear what you’re enduring. I can only imagine how painful and scary it is to live with abuse.

I get why this approach may not fit for you. It didn’t make sense to me at first, but then I saw the results, as I was desperate enough to try a different approach when mine wasn’t working. I’m standing for you and your family to have the peace and respect you deserve.

I agree with all the other women here about this article I am not all about blaming the victim at all respect goes both ways but it is hard to respect someone who does not respect you when it’s strictly says in your marriage vows to love and honor and cherish all the days of your life I used to love my husband until he started verbally abusing me and emotionally abusing me always telling me that he’s going to leave me and that I’m useless pathetic and calling me other degrading names I stand up to him it’s hard not to say anything when you’re being put down I don’t even look at him as a man anymore I’m not even attracted to him because of the way he’s treated me I am a Christian and I don’t really believe in divorce but I don’t think I have much of a choice I’ve been married 10 years and I can only count on one hand how many times he’s been nice to me. Life is too short to put up with it I would leave but I pay the rent here and everything in this house is pretty much mine I just wish he would leave. He is never happy and he likes to lie about things in his life to people like he’s ashamed of who he truly is so he has to make up stories. I think too much of myself to put up with any more of his abuse.

The fact that you are literally telling woman what men are thinking and pretty much how we feel. And they still can’t listen they blame us is a issue . Taking accountability goes both ways fixing a marriage goes both ways. Men we exert our anger in a manner of yelling and being rude but I can tell you it’s coming from feeling defensive. Now weather that man goes and talks with someone to work on that is on him. But its up to woman as well to take accountability it’s not.all us it’s not all our fault. And I don’t fault men who won’t take the blame for all the issues in their marriage.

My husband is addicted to pornography. I have learned how to not take it personally. I have tried putting it aside. It hurts our intimacy and it hurts me. Every so often he asks “what is going on with you?” It seems like he actually cares, I guess I fall for it because I wish he did. I don’t always take the bait. But, I am doomed weather I open up to him about it or not. He presses and is mean until I do. Then he proceeds to tell me that I am wrong and that I am acting crazy. It always ends in him shouting at me and somehow making me feel even smaller. He is a really good dad and he has his moments as a husband. I am just going to be heartbroken in this life and it is devastating.

Dear Laura,
It is very difficult…almost impossible to NOT appreciate the veracity of your article after taking time to read every single comment on this blog, as well as your grace-ladden responses. From my perspective, God made the first man, realized he didn’t have the capacity to survive alone and he made a woman OUT of a part of him….a rib. What do the ribs protect?…the lungs(oxygen) and the heart (the pump)- the main drivers of our mortal bodies. The truth is, women can very easily run the world we all exist in if they realize how much natural instinctive power they inherently possess. Except if a woman was forced into a marriage/relationship,..the man was once someone you knew and loved before he suddenly became an abusive monster. I want to believe that you could still find that guy again because the power to either prepare him for his funeral or resurrection him his ruins has always been in your hands from the moment he chose you. While most women seek validation from their girlfriends, a man would always have a spring in his step when his biggest cheerleader is his wife/partner. A man would gladly sell a kidney and a half just to please the woman he loves who truly respects and appreciates him….the cloak of masculinity is only a facade. The downside though is the same way he defends his family from an external threat, is how he also defends himself from any personal threat. This is coming from a guy who has endured physical, emotional, psychological, and intense verbal abuse from wifey for 11 years…with 2 beautiful kids. I don’t claim to be a saint either, but I realized that I had to first remove my own shades to better appreciate the real color of her eyes (metaphorically). So far, the results are pretty encouraging….but trust me, a huge percentage of men would be anything but rational in my shoes. This article has successfully treated this particularly difficult topic. Finally, I leave everyone with a favourite line by Stephen Covey “Seek first to understand, so you could be understood”.
Laura, may God bless your heart for the beautiful work you do as he continues to replenish your well of wisdom.

**Please ignore all the hate.

I get what you’re saying about the wife playing a role. But not only does my husband verbally abuse me, he verbally abuses all of our children even my 3 year old girl. He screams at all of us, calls us morons and threatens to smack my 3 year old in the face when she has normal tantrums. He says he goes to work yet pays zero to rent, bills, food, etc. He is gone all the time then comes home and ignores us for smoking weed in the backyard. Tell me how to respect a man like that? He told me so many lies and keeps lying all the time. When I ask him to help me pay bills he screams terrible names at me and slams things. I don’t feel safe when he’s angry and me and my kids retreat to a bedroom and lock the door. Tell me how to fix that? He is already divorced once for the same issues. His 2 daughters from that marriage dislike him and he’s their Dad. He makes them cry all the time and never says sorry.

Laura, I have to admit I am a bit confused. I am not certain what your spiritual beliefs are . My worldview would be Christian/biblical. In scripture, when someone persists in unrepentant sin the apostle Paul tells them to be put out of the church until such time as they repent and that means more than just a teary eyed show of remorse.

So what I am wondering is, how does it really help to show respect and honor to a man who is refusing to repent of a sinful root in his life and heart attitude?

I was in a verbally abusive relationship. And I did turn my relationship around, but it actually happened when I started respecting myself more, not him. We teach others how to treat us. At first, I was scared when I was around him. I would react with sadness or withdraw from him when he became abusive. This all changed when I stopped letting him hurt me emotionally. I did this by not caring about his thoughts on me. I decided to love and respect myself. What I discovered was that when I did this, I was able to react to him in a neutral or positive way. Eventually he stopped verbally abusing me. It just…disappeared. I believe that the person who is verbally abusive is trying to project their pain into you. When it doesn’t work, they will stop. I also believe that the verbally abusive person probably had a verbally abusive parent who did not love them unconditionally. When the verbal abuser is angry with you and you get hurt or angry, it makes them feel worse or scared them even more. When you remain unhurt and untouched by their behavior, they feel safe and loved. They will also no longer feel the need to act out because they will see that you still love them. This is just my own experience, might apply to some other people’s relationships, but definitely not all. Just wanted to mention that my experience was the opposite, that nothing changed until I changed how I thought of myself.

Brilliant, Erin! Love this. Congratulations on transforming your interaction in your relationship.

I am stunned by your advice to women who are verbally abused! I’ve been married for 24 years. 12 years ago, I became disabled. In those 12 years my husband has turned into a monster. 2 days ago, in front of the neighbors, he started screaming at me because I needed a ride to the store to buy Easter treats. He went crazy throwing things in the garage, calling me a c***, a fat pig, a bitch, etc. I locked him out because I was afraid he would hit me. He tells me I’m worthless, crazy, that I’ve let myself go. So, I’ve been coping by walking on eggshells, never confronting him, making perfect meals, perfect house, etc. I haven’t been to the dentist in 5 years, eye doctor, 4 years. I am like a dog chained up in the backyard, forgotten. I go on the internet and find your article…you are not empowering women! Far from it. You are telling us to be good, keep our mouths shut and learn to live with it. That’s what I’ve been doing. I don’t have many options being on disability. There are times when I see only one way out.

Laura Doyle, as a victim of emotional and mental abuse who is also very experienced and knowledgeable about this topic, I am both shocked and outraged at the advice you give. By it’s very nature, abuse is not the fault of the victim. The victim does not have to do or say anything to be abused – the abuser will abuse regardless. If you read books written by experts on the topic, you will realise how dangerous your advice is.

AS, I hear you. My intention is not to blame the victim but to empower the women in such a relationship with the tools to create a culture of respect.

I am so thankful you are not my counselor. How could you put the blame on the victims of verbal abusive. Tell me how is it my fault when my alcoholic husband goes on a rant for 20 minutes because I could bring him to organismic through oral sex. Or screams at me and when I ask why, he can not give me an answer. I thank God you are not my counselor and pity the victims of verbal abuse that put their trust and money I to your services.

Janet, for the record I am not a counselor, nor do I blame victims of any type of abuse. I am a relationship coach with the privilege of seeing miracles every day, including wives who are victims of verbal abuse empowered to change the culture in their marriages by restoring respect themselves. My own relationship transformed from being riddled with verbal abuse to being the playful, passionate marriage I always wanted.

I hear that you are an extremely devoted wife and am sorry for what you are going through. You do not deserve that kind of treatment.

I do not ask for your money, but what I would love is to see you have the kind of mutually respectful marriage you deserve. If this situation is not working for you and you are interested in trying something new, I invite you to my free upcoming webinar: How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life at

Very joyful post. I just stumble upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed browsing your blog posts. I really admire the valuable information on abuse in marriage you have been able to share us through this post.

I feel that your article is not quite on point. I want to describe a situation that people in a verbally abusive relationship can probably relate to.
My husband was having a bad day and I was cooking potatoes. I, very respectfully, asked him what kind of potatoes he would like. He told me that he knew what my look was all about. I had no idea what he was talking about. When I said, “sorry, I really didn’t mean anything. Do you want mashed potatoes? ” I was already in panic because I could see his anger welling up.
My “mistake” in his eyes was denying that I had a resentful look on my face. This warranted an explosion of obscenities, put downs and throwing a wingback chair, narrowly missing my six year old daughter.
This is the reality of verbal abuse! What you are talking about is trailer trash fighting. I am scared for my life when something sets him off! Your advice and post is dangerous and I encourage you to take it down!!

Andrea, I get that there’s a difference between what I’m describing and your experience. I hear that you are afraid for your life. Your safety comes first. If your husband is physically abusive, that is a divorce I endorse. If you’re not sure whether you are safe, I would love to support you. I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call with a certified coach at

I am going to assume that you have never been a true victim of verbal abuse. And by that I mean living with someone who hurts you daily with words because they are miserable and angry in nature. You probably didn’t even think how a verbally abusive marriage could affect the children either. People who are verbally abusive mostly have some kind of abuse early on in their childhood. But you probably didn’t know that either. Coming from a wife who is a victim of verbal abuse, I will say it IS a ground for divorce. Have you ever thought that after years of being verbally abused that you begin to go sane and lose your patience that you start to act and sound like them? It starts to damage your mental health as well. But you probably didn’t think of that because you’ve never been in that situation. It’s always easier when you’re the outsider trying to look in and judge a marriage you aren’t living in. I hope no one else thinks that verbal abuse is something to take lightly. And it isn’t always the victim’s fault. Maybe it’s hard for you to believe but there are actually people out there who are just that mentally dysfunctional to verbally abuse someone for no legitimate reason. For you to try to make someone question what they did to make them get verbally abused is like blaming a physically abused person for getting beat because of something they did. There are always ways to handle situations. Verbal abuse is never okay just because you are angry. But it seems you are justifying that.

Jessie, I absolutely agree that verbal abuse is never okay. I do not take it lightly or justify abuse of any kind. My point is simply that, in my experience working with thousands of women, restoring respect has a way of changing the culture–and communication–in the home. I’m sorry to hear that has not been your experience. No one deserves to be treated the way you have.

Laura your advice, while well intentioned, is only what worked for you in your particular situation. It sounds like you recognized that you were verbally abusive, aggressive and disrespectful. That’s great but more often than not this behavior is from the man … who is taller, heavier and stronger than the woman. While your point of view is valid from taking stock of your own abusive behavior, it is a downright dangerous and reckless piece of advice to offer up to far more serious problems that are beyond the depth of your professional opinion or credentials.

Katherine, I appreciate your sensitivity to women’s vulnerability. To clarify, I do not condone physical abuse or verbal abuse for that matter.

Hmm? I got up this morning in a perfectly good mood. I was getting dressed to run some errands. My husband walked in and told me his friend invited us to go to an event later in the day. I knew nothing about it till that moment.
I told him I was going to stop by my friend’s house to visit with her since she had just had surgery. He started yelling at me and said so you already made plans. I said I am just merely going to stop by.
Then he went on to say fu$& you, you’re an as(hole. If you want to leave, leave.
This is a pattern. He pretty much does whatever he wants, when he wants and I sit back and don’t say anything. When I make a plan to do something, he gets insulting and angry. He will usually say if I want to go, go.
How would you handle that?

Oh, Michele, that is so hurtful to be spoken to that way. I’m sorry you’ve been going through this. I admire you for reaching out for support on how to handle these situations. I’d love to see you have the freedom to follow through with your own plans and be treated with respect in the process. I know that’s possible for you! My free webinar will help you get started. It’s called How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for it here:

Nicole, I hear you. That’s why I’m so committed to empowering women. Because no one deserves abuse or violence.

When you finally pluck up the courage to leave your abusive spouse it is terrifying to carry it through.
The last thing people need to hear is unrealistic happy ever after stories. I’m a Christian and believe in seeking to be the best you can be and that is ongoing throughout our lives. However, a true abuser is one who doesn’t even recognise its abuse and blames all his responses on his partner. When only one party is seeking to change, the other is extremely vulnerable and questions whether the twisted versions of events means she is losing her mind.
I took ending my marriage extremely seriously as all my hopes and attempts of smoothing the waters failed. Most Christian and moral marriage loving books highlight tough love in this scenario. I am pleased your strategies worked for you, but you were clearly one of the few abusers to recognise your vindictive behaviour. Most abusers will never see what they don’t want to change.
I think you’re advice is dangerous, particularly to people who are so crushed they question their sanity. Support is what they need to stay strong and escape, not doubts about whether they should stay and hope a miracle happens. Unless I was a perfect person I will occasionally retaliate to the worst names imaginable. Then I was really for it.
You should not be allowed to voice your views. You are likely to be responsible for many verbally abused people being physically abused. As mostly the control and anger escalate.
Please step out of your inappropriate role and just enjoy the rewards of your own advice as an abuser who saw the light. Most never do

Roz, I am sorry to hear you went through the pain of an abusive marriage. I admire and applaud you for having the courage to leave. There are divorces I endorse, and being with a husband who is physically abusive absolutely qualifies. In my experience, verbal abuse is a different sort of animal, but a woman’s safety always comes first. Thank you for sharing your experience.

I don’t think this is helpful to a person who is married to a verbal abuser. I have been married 7 months to a man who flies off the handle at the slightest thing. Sends my chdren and I running in Terror. And NO it had NOT been a two way street. He accused me of being verbally abusive with him when I told him verbatim the things he had yelled at me at the top of his lungs. My adult children laughed when they considered me being abusive and out of control. It is not part of my character. And I hadn’t fought back out of paralyzingly fear that the abuse and rage would turn physical.

This kind of reasoning that verbal abuse isn’t “really” abuse promotes the lack of safety for many victims who are already being gaslighted and manipulated into believing that they are the problem.

I know some people call the slightest situationabuse. But when you are with a chronic rageaholic and running in fear for your safety because they cannot seem to de escalate, you are not dealing with a two way street. It may take two to tango… but it only takes one person to kick you in the shins and yell you into submission.

Kelly, Your experience is certainly valid, and I can see why you were terrified in that situation. I don’t wish that on anyone! I’ve been amazed to see what women can accomplish in situations like yours with a few Intimacy Skills–when they learn what men consider disrespectful and how to respond to hurt with vulnerability for example. I wouldn’t have believed it myself. I trust that you’re the expert on your own life and will do what’s best for you.

I have read these comments and find many of them to be disrespectful and hateful. I agree with Laura (if these people can’t disagree with her respectfully, on a blog) I can imagine how they dished out the abuse, just as good as the so-called perpetrator. I pray these folks can calm down & seek the peace and love from GOD first, and then work on themselves because you have to be the change that you want to see in the world.

Who are you to advise someone to a divorce, ( actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling she simply isn’t safe, and safety always comes first. That’s a divorce I endorse). GOD is the one who has said what’s appropriate. Of course, it might help if you can understand that coach.

Mark, I had to go back and re-read this to look for the part where I advised someone to get divorced, because I couldn’t remember ever doing that! Sure enough, I wrote that I would endorse a divorce for safety purposes, not advise one.

I see miracles all the time, even with marriages that seem to meet the three situations I describe here. I never ever give up on a marriage. But if she tells me she’s not safe, and she has to leave, I trust that wife as the expert on her own life and support her in finding safety for herself.

Laura I have been practicing the 6 skills over the last 2 months and have seen a change in both of us. Though I don’t know how to deal with him still being angry and abusive to our teenage daughter. All they ever do is fight and sometimes it’s over the littlest things that escalate to him losing his temper and threatening to leave as he is done she pushed him too far. I would have defended my daughter a few months ago but now and just last night I bit my tongue and stayed out of the fight. Is this the right thing to do? This morning he wouldn’t speak of the incident. Do I let him bring it up? I could clearly see he was upset but I stayed silent and didn’t ask how he was. One other time I stayed silent he told his father that I didn’t back him up during the fight. I am not sure if I have done the right thing. I want him to own his own actions. I know he is more than capable of parenting our daughter. She is so angry and hurt by her father’s actions (he had a emotional affair) that she resents him and when they fight she attacks him. Should I wait for him to bring it up with me? Or stay clear? I don’t know what to say to him. I may not get the opportunity as he is away now for a few weeks working. He threatened our daughter during the fight that when he gets back he will be moving out and she would be rid of him. Any advice would be apprecaited. I don’t know what my next step will be?

Sarah, Sounds like a lot of drama and stress for you watching your husband and your daughter fight like that. Sorry to hear! I think you were wise to stay out of the latest fight. It might be interesting to see what happens if that’s new for you. Also, I’d love to see you get some support with this, as your relationship is also getting impacted when he threatens to leave. Sounds scary! I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to see if working with one of my coaches might be right for you. You can do that here:

I fell in love with the positive traits my then fiancé displayed. I pushed away the red flags. I witnessed how he treated his friends, his sisters and his mother with disrespect but I would ignore it and convinced myself “I’ll take the bad with the good.” I assumed that was good enough. That was very naive of me and I should have never married him. But sometimes we make mistakes, even big mistakes. You can’t change the past. You can only move forward with the knowledge you have.

It took 3 months of marriage before the disrespect and verbal abuse that formally had been reserved for the other people in his life was pointed at me. I can assure you that I treated this man with respect, was his constant cheerleader and support during stressful times and was a positive, optimistic influence in our marriage. In no way did I deserve to be called a bitch. I didn’t deserve to be told to fuck off. I didn’t deserve to be reminded constantly how “sensitive” I was, or that I “couldn’t take a joke.” And the list goes on and on. He made me feel emotionally unsafe, destroyed my spirit and left me feeling worthless. This happened in only 10 short months of marriage. If I had stayed, our relationship would have destroyed me.

Verbal abuse is not black and white. To paint a picture that in every verbally abusive relationship, the victim is somehow to blame for the abuse is unbelievably hard to hear as a former abuse victim. I am a survivor of abuse and I am a better person because I left.

Alex, I’m sorry you suffered and felt belittled in your marriage. It sounds awful. No one deserves to be treated that way.

I don’t want to invalidate your experience, which I get was very real and scary, but for me, respect is very different than the things you describe here–cheerleading, support and optimism. Respect for men is about treating them as though they are capable and competent, and honoring and trusting their thinking. Most women don’t recognize the difference and therefore are inadvertently disrespectful. They don’t know they’re being disrespectful, but it still lands on the man just as hurtfully as the comments you describe here.

From my perspective, a different outcome may have been possible in your marriage besides you being the victim and having to escape. I don’t hear anything in your description that makes me think this wasn’t solvable. Even in the happiest marriages, sometimes the husband says something that hurts his wife deeply. That’s just part of living so close together. We have all said terrible things to our spouses–even the things you describe. We have all said things in the heat of the moment that were meant to hurt and destroy. I’m not saying it’s okay or that it’s right, but I am saying that there are other ways to make yourself safe without having to abandon the relationship entirely.

It sounds like you made the best choice for you in leaving, given the options you saw. For me it was very empowering to take myself out of the victim role and take a hard look at what I was bringing to the party. Once I did that, I was empowered to make a different choice about how I reacted and that led to me having the marriage I dreamed of when I said, “I do.”

When you slice your finger open bad enough that you have to go get stitches and your husband tells you to shut up when you ask for a ride, and you have to drive yourself alone to the hospital and then he doesn’t speak to you for 2 days, well then you can tell me all about how my marriage could have had a different outcome. I’ll spare you the details of all the other incidents that I had to deal with.

You can continue to tell me how this marriage could have had a different outcome when you’re married to a man who does not seek counselling for these issues.

I showed my husband respect. I respected what he thought. I was not called names “in the heat of the moment.” He was much more comfortable calling me these names in non-confrontational moments. We didn’t fight. I couldn’t disagree with anything he said. The only times we argued we’re when he was disrespectful towards me. Respect goes two ways. I expect my husband to respect me. Every woman should. And you should not be speaking about verbal abuse like it is a one-size fits all tee-shirt.

Alex, It sounds awful. You definitely know what’s best for you better than I do. I’m sorry for what you went through.

“Desperation” … years ago I was a regular at a weekly AlAnon meeting and I have also found similarities in Laura’s encouragement to focus on yourself and also make yourself happy. While the work didn’t cause my husband to quit drinking it did change my perception of how to live my life in a very positive way. I am grateful for it and I am grateful for Laura’s work as well.

Thanks Laura for your reply
Am relieved to hear someone similar experience and did the work

Ive been to my first al anon meeting
Lo and behold they teach similar things you say : FOCUS ON YOURSELF, WORK ON YOURSELF, FOCUS ON WHAT YOU HAVE CONTROL OVER (myself) AND NOT ON WHAT YOU DONT HAVE CONTROL OVER ( the husband)

they also don’t tell you what to do
(Tro, divorce, leave , stay, jail, psych ward)
They just help you to help yourself
I waited and waited for your reply but I’m glad i read it today
When I’ve had enough time to think for myself

I hope I can get more support
And I know your program worked and works…..but I was using the “doesn’t work though on alcoholics” but now I’m like so what
It will work on helping me work on myself right?
I’ll keep trying
Your sharing of that woman does give a glimmer of hope
Although al anon is more direct stating (it’s not to make the other stop drinking and they may never) but both yours and theirs says
“Work on yourself”
Peace and faith to all
God bless to anyone who wants to help someone else

The abuser giving advises to the victims…

Well, I understand that you have been an abuser and have realized this in time to save your marriage. You have changed. That is all very nice, but also very rare. And unlikely…

Please, make a note at the beginning of your articles and books…Something like: “If you are a victim do not read me. Read if you are an abuser”.

Also the kids not feelin. Safe after they see dad is back again
Will it happen again why does mom still let him be back in house
Do they wonder
And also am I keeping him from hitting rock bottom by not leaving

It feels weird for me to start being respectful after all that he did and isn’t that rewarding him for wrong behavior….by still giving him opportunity to conduct business as usual…..water seeks its own level there is a hard to admit truth in that….everything most commenters said he had also done the raging throwing destroying kicking things the abuse…..yes quite all weirdly similar……

Laura I read Johns statement on the counseling
My husband just got out of a 3 day inpatient psych. He’s back at home and I’m contemplating between getting a tro and just sitting it out

I’ve read everybody’s comments
I acknowledge my part on being a passive aggressive myself where I would lord it over (complaints) my husband when he’s sober then when he drinks he then “verbally abuses” including 3 little kids and his teenage stepson

There is a drinking problem a possible military PTSD and clinical depression and severe childhood history of abuse in his books

We’d go from 1 good weekend then to 1 with his raging and threats the next depending on how much attention and conscious effort or non effort I make
Police were recently involved and they took him in instead of jail to hospital

I’ve done counseling to help myself get stronger and understand the ladies here who have felt the after effects and plus trauma on my kids

We’re together 11 married 9 supposed to be I wanted a church wedding on the 10th next year

I have been wary listening to all the police advise all the counsellors listening to my complaints as I choke on elaborating what I do myself or say or minimize my part

There are the I’m quiet but he’d still go crazy times and it’s the alcohol….

I’ve done coaching years ago when I was wanting divorce
I’m going through menopause now and it adds to the picture

I can say a litany of husband did this and that but I can also say a litany of the other good side
However my children have been severely traumatized and that’s making me want to pull the plug
On a practice run I told my kids this is how it’ll be if I’m by myself and I sounded more stern more angrier more stricter and more “evil” to them than if their dad was there
I felt heavy burdened

I have not decided to not do the tro and am on a crossroads
I was suppose to plan a party for my 2 kids and mom but need to scrap that due to the tensions at home

I’m thinking to go to your weekend but I feel I might sulk and not be in the mood to dance and sing and be happy and feel I’m gonna feel out of place and nobody’s gonna be allowed to complain there

The world out there says I’m an enabler and there is alcohol involved and I’ve searched all your alcohol articles and latched onto that one that says “heavy drinking was even curtailed”

But outside voices say leave
Take your kids out of house
Let him hit rock bottom
Go to counseling make him go to counseling…………………my kids have suffered through all this and as I read John say about Jekyll and Hyde that’s him…..I’m in this bubble and can’t get a perspective and am searching other than for the traditional rto approach (that’s restraining order) divorce let him hit rock bottom by leaving alcoholics anon meetings which I have never been to….I felt that peace the other wife said for the week he was not there………I even screamed around him “this program” does not work for alcohol addicted husbands (as your disclaimer said)

Clarify that part with the “heavy drinking” fixed comment you made
I know my head will clear in a few days…….. And your expected “only you will know what’s right for you will emerge”…….but I feel the frustration of the commenters how u keep giving hope when all they want to hear is “leave””divorce”
The bubble is……the alcohol the trauma to kids……etc I’m inside and can’t look at it from the outside

Desperation, Wow, I’m sorry for all you’re going through with the rage and drinking and fear for your children’s safety. I was thinking about another woman who came to the Cherished for Life Weekend in a similar situation to yours. She will be speaking at this weekend about how she has healed that relationship against the odds. I am also thinking of another woman who left her husband over his drinking and is now reunited and thoroughly enjoying their alone time together. So it’s all possible. If you can make it to the Weekend, I promise it will rejuvenate you and very likely your marriage too.

Of course, you are the expert on your own life (You knew I was going to say that!) and you know what’s best for you. But if you’re asking me, I invite you to come get loved on at the Cherished for Life Weekend and let’s find out what’s possible for you.

Wow. Obviously written by someone who has never experienced abuse. Or maybe laura is an abuser? Abuser don’t often recognize their illness.

You are current abuser. Declaring “sorry, oopsie i was and abuser and I didn’t mean it” doesn’t let you off the hook for your atrocities, doesn’t undo actions/words and doesn’t make you a decent person.

The fact you are a relationship coach is aweful. I pray that the people who listen to your horse-hockey actually get real guidance and wisedom and find peace.

Last note: verbal abuse is not always a two way street.

I clicked this link to find counter-evidence for my impending divorce (am I doing the right thing leaving a verbally and emotionally abusive relationship?). But this article’s perspective seems like a 30,000 ft. view and not indicative of the deep non-physical abuse and destruction I’ve dealt with for years. On my end, there was no verbal abuse going back in his direction – I was emotionally and mentally razed to the ground and blocked from ever criticizing him or questioning him. He spat in my face, forced me to clean up messes he created just to watch me clean it up. And more. But he never hit me. So when someone comes along and calls verbal abuse a situation where couples are putting each other down, I agree that that can be fixed. But verbal abuse in the majority of serious cases involves someone whose voice has been taken away. So I didn’t even feel this article addressed verbal abuse – only bad but fairly normal relationships that involve put downs from both sides (which probably covers most relationships).

B, I’m so sorry to hear about the humiliation and suffering you’ve been through in your relationship. For me, spitting in your face is physical abuse. When you say “making you” clean up a mess I’m speculating that this was also under some kind of physical threat or imprisonment, which I also consider physical abuse. For me, the headline of your post is that you’re leaving a physically abusive relationship, and I’m happy to hear you’re making yourself safe. No one should have to live like that.

Hi Vicki,
I feel like I’m in the same boat as you. I’m reading Laura’s comments to women and am agree with some statements but am concerned that the abuse in my relationship is not a 2 way street. I’ve been married to my husband almost 10 years and we have two girls. He has bad road rage and throws items around the house when he’s angry. He has punched walls, doors and furniture. He has flipped furniture and such in front of me when he’s angry and these actions scare me. The emotional and verbal abuse are there as well, and he tells me it’s better if I don’t say anything when he’s angry or else he will get angrier, so for the sake of the kids, I stay silent and try to discuss his actions later in day when he’s calm. I recently moved out and after multiple family interventions he finally is seeking help. There has been such peace at home now that I don’t have to walk in broken egg shells all the time since I moved out. However, I’m not sure if he can really change and I’m trying to make good decisions. I don’t believe if I was nicer or controlled my words better his anger and abuse would be better. His parents tried to send him to counseling when he was in high school so it’s always been like this. I’m still struggling though about this.

JA, I’m sorry to hear you were so terrified in your own home. That would be exhausting, and I can see why you’re relieved to feel safe.

I had a client in a very similar situation to yours, also with two kids (teenagers) who also moved out and was so relieved. She thought she would definitely never go back. Her husband had also had anger issues going all the way back to high school. I’m happy to report that the relationship completely healed and they are back together. He is not raging anymore. It took about a year in their case.

She told me she finally understands why people say they’re so excited to spend the rest of their lives with their spouse. She says she couldn’t have imagined this would be the outcome before, but they reunited and they are shopping to buy a house and the whole family is happy and healed.

So there’s hope for your family too if what you want is to put your family back together.

I am divorcing my husband, of ten years. At first I felt guilty about it but being verbally and emotionally abused feels worse. It is not always a two way street when It comes to this type of behavior. I use to sit silently or close my ears while he constantly puts me down. Sometimes in front of the children.
He’s been out of the house for one week and it’s so peaceful… Thank God for peace.
I feel no one should stay in an unhealthy relationship/marriage unless the abuser wants to seek therapy individually to work on him/herself to save the relationship. I believe a marriage counselor is not the answer when abuse is the problem.
My husband wanted to go to a marriage counselor when I finally told him I wanted a divorce. I felt he should seek therapy individually. When so many mean, horrible and vulgar things are said to a person I feel there’s no foundation to work on. So I decided to move on, life is too short to live in a unhealthy and miserable relationship. My decision to divorce has been an emotional roller-coaster ride but I will get through it…being healthy mentally, physically and emotionally is what is important.

Vickie, I hear you. Sounds painful. I felt the same way at one point. I’m wishing you all the best. You certainly can’t make him change, that’s for sure. That’s not how marriages are saved.

I think Laura Doyle may very well be a man to further manipulate women he believes to be weak.

I agree with you Laura, and for my husband, he interprets my raised voice, or disagreeing with him, as being disrespectful. When I get emotional, I have a tendency to raise my voice, and although I’m not making hurtful comments, just speaking louder in a tone he doesn’t like, he lashes out at me and can be very mean. I’ve tried very hard to control my volume, but I often don’t realize I’m speaking loud or emotionally. He also becomes very annoyed and angry with me when I disagree with him. Lately his patience is getting shorter and shorter and it seems as if were always fighting now and he’s always giving me the silent treatment. His mother passed away 3 months ago, and this has made things much worse. His patience is nonexistent. We have 1 daughter together, but I also have 2 other daughters who live with us full time. He also has no patience with them. He ignores them and when he does speak to them he’s mean. He thinks they are disrepecting him by not following the rules, like forgetting to make their beds or put toys away. He said he will contibue being mean and ignore them until they change. I asked him to try to have a balance of kindness and discipline. He won’t listen. We’ve only been married for 2 years and 9 months. I feel like I’m at the end of my rope and I don’t know what else to do! I’ve suggested counselling, but he’s me and the girls are the problem. He threatens me with divorce and that he’ll keep our daughter. I do love him and I wish there was hope, but I’m not sure there is!

JG, I’m sorry to hear about all the fighting, and that you’re feeling so afraid for the future of your relationship and for your daughters. Sounds really stressful and painful! I know how dark it seems when there’s silent treatment. I have good news though. I know it’s hard to believe, but I can see your marriage becoming brighter and better than it’s been since the very beginning of your relationship, and you can turn it around without going to counseling. Consider reading, The Empowered Wife, which is available on audio (I know moms of young children don’t always get much time to read!), and spells out exactly what to do. Then come back and let me know how you’re doing. You can read a free chapter online here:

You should not be giving anyone in an abusive relationship advice. Your comments that “verbal abuse in marriage is always a two way street” and that “water finds it’s own level” are so offensive. You have no understanding of the issues and I sincerely hope that no one in the kind of relationship I have been trapped in for years takes any advice from you.

Kate, Sorry to hear about your painful relationship. I hope you find the peace that you’re craving.

Laura doyle sounds to me you were the verbal abuser in your relationship and you found a way to stop Verbal abusing and now your marriage is amazing if only so many other abusers would follow suit!! good for you well done!

upon looking at your bio, I see books you have written, but no mention of ANY schooling, training, etc. How can you give out advice under the assumption that you are a skilled, trained therapist? You seem to be someone who just calls herself a “coach”. This is very misleading. I suggest that women DO NOT TAKE YOUR ADVICE. Especially since one of your blogs is about NOT GETTING A MARRIAGE COUNCILLOR. You are nothing more than a snake oil salesperson.

Emily, Ouch! You are correct I am not a therapist. I’m a relationship coach. My credentials are that I made my broken marriage passionate and playful again and helped thousands of women do the same thing in their marriages. I have only my own experience to share. If it doesn’t appeal to you, I trust that you will look elsewhere to find the wisdom that does serve you.

Most people don’t realize that a study at UCLA found that 75% of couples who got traditional behavior marriage counseling were separated within a year.

Some people take an academic approach to marriage. My work was done in the trenches–with real women in real marriages. Women all over the world in 17 languages and 28 countries have found success with The Intimacy Skills.

You are a joke of a therapist. Who condones verbal abuse?! Once you finally leave that unhealthy relationship do you know how long it takes for people to feel secure with someone else. Your the worst therapist ever. Not one marriage counseling book, priest at a church, or other therapist ever agree verbal abuse is ok. Your messed up.

Maire, I don’t condone verbal abuse and I’m not a therapist. All I’m saying is that sometimes we’re not aware of our own contributions to the problem, (like calling someone a joke or saying they’re messed up, for example). If you did that in your relationship, you would be contributing to a culture of verbal abuse without even realizing it. Becoming conscious of that and making a different choice can make your relationship much more intimate and safe.


I love your constructive replies to the people that attack you on your blog. It is very ironic, that the responses are usually in response to some sort of abusiveness which they exhibit in their put downs and name calling of you. Kudos to you in staying “the bigger person” in your responses. You may not be a therapist but you know more than most of them. 🙂

Heather, thank you for your vote of support. I’m glad you appreciate my replies, and I appreciate you pointing out that irony! Thank you for your generous acknowledgments.

No one gets to tell their fiance when they’re asked “when do you want to get married?” I said “At least June” and for 2 hours, get my reasonings for choosing June picked apart (to save up money, have time to pack all my belongings, warm weather starts in June in CA since the wedding is in CA, and so that I don’t feel rushed), he is saying “Oh that’s logical” or “oh that’s unreasonable.” Towards the end of picking my decision apart, he says “I won’t respect your opinion unless deemed appropriate.” Therefore, in my experience, it doesn’t matter if you keep your side of the street clean. If they don’t deem you worthy of respect, they won’t be treating you correctly. Just a thought, Laura 🙂

Kristin, Sorry to hear about this prickly conversation with your fiance. Sounds like it didn’t go well. We had lots of conversations that didn’t go well around here, for years. But I was amazed how much power I had to change the culture of those conversations and make them fun again. Today we mostly laugh together, and it was all in my power to create that in my relationship. You have the power too, Kristin, but I get that it’s hard to see that right now. I’d hate to see you walk away from a relationship that could be amazing, because I almost walked away from mine and he’s the man of my dreams. Getting some support will be a big help!

People have to want to change to actually change. I am engaged and going through premarital counseling through our church, the coach told my fiance he needs to go through divorce care as he’s not over his prior divorce. He’s treating me like his ex-wife. I don’t need to sign up for a life time paying the price for someone else’s relationship. One can still be respectful and the other person hears through a different filter, one of self entitlement, and say things like “I won’t respect your opinion until deemed appropriate.” That’s a red flag in my opinion because that man doesn’t know the foundation of respect. It’s not my job to stick around and wait for him to learn the concept. He’s 41. He said he’s “30 years set in my ways.” When a man says that, he’s not going to change, he’s well formed. I said to my fiance “I need to only do the premarital workbook once a month because I’m getting stressed from all the serious conversations everyday.” His response was “Well, I need a favor from you. To finish the Evernote document that was started.” Relationships don’t thrive on “bargaining chips,” Laura. That’s a bad sign someone doesn’t fight fair. Just because you keep “your side of the street clean” – there’s no reason to have to put up with someone who will always have the blinders on. That’s just existing. I read your book about killing the marriage counselors…and my fiance is just a spender! He’s getting his money off of a trust to get put through CRNA school. He won’t talk about finances now that we are engaged. That’s a red flag. We are long distance and he says after February he won’t have enough time for me? It’s time to pull the plug. He was scared to tell me he may not be able to afford Christmas gifts b/c he didn’t get his credit card paid off this month – he usually gets it paid off – yet he’s still shopping on Amazon b/c he shared his Amazon Prime account with me, and says he’s going to buy a gift card for his Pastor and Pastor’s wife to go on a date for all the nice things they’ve done for him? I can still be the loving person and it obviously shows I’m not a priority. Plus, I wouldn’t be confident in leaving the finances in his hand since he doesn’t want to open up and he’s lying about his finances.

Kristin, Sounds painful to have your fiance behave that way and say there won’t be Christmas presents. For me, when my husband was not making me a priority it had everything to do with the energy I was bringing to the relationship, which in my case was prickly porcupine energy of resentment, anger and fear. My husband was defensive all the time and trying to avoid me. Looking back, I don’t blame him. It was mind-blowing to see how differently he responded when I went back to being respectful, vulnerable and grateful like I had been during dating. I truly had all the power, and so do you. I know you’re hurt and angry right now, but you have the power to create the kind of connection you want with this man, who I’m guessing is a good guy or you wouldn’t have agreed to marry him. There’s plenty of reason to be hopeful that you can use the Six Intimacy Skills to have a wonderful relationship with him!

You are being naive. Yes, women feel more entitled these days to behave as badly in a marriage as the men they marry. Your example however is in a case where there are two reasonable adults willing to work on a marriage. Controlling men will not accept any responsibility but they will accept their wives treating them respectfully. Then they will use that power to become even more insidiously abusive.

Jenn, I can understand why you feel that way. My experience has been that husbands want their wives to be happy and that when she brings the respect and vulnerability, he drops the defensiveness, and his hero gene naturally reawakens and he treats her with tenderness. It’s a dramatic change for sure, and I’ve had the honor or witnessing it over and over. I’m always moved.

Some husbands want their wives to be happy but there are a few husbands who lack empathy and are only concerned with their own happiness.

Your experience with your husband’s verbal abuse might be not be the same as others. Maybe your husband was just reacting to your abuse, but some women have husbands who are truly abusive, lack compassion, and will take your kindness for weakness. They will also blame their wives for their abuse, which is what you are doing and it’s very dangerous.

Just because you found a solution for your problem, doesn’t mean you have the solution to everyone’s problem.

Joyce, I can understand why you feel that way. Your thinking leads to some mysteries though. For example, why would a woman marry a man who lacks empathy and is only concerned with his own happiness? When did he become that way? Did he change his stripes at some point? How did he woo her?

Over the last 18 years of doing this work, I have seen many women describe their husbands as lacking empathy and concern for their happiness, but he subsequently transformed (back to the man he was when she fell in love with him) when the wife learns to be respectful and practice the rest of the Six Intimacy Skills.

In my experience, a husband who acts the way you describe is busy defending himself from his wife’s unwitting criticism and disrespect. She often doesn’t even realize that she’s being critical or disrespectful, just as I didn’t realize. So it appears he is bad and wrong and she is a victim.

I don’t blame her for his mean comments as he always has a choice of how to respond, but I do believe there is great power in being accountable for your part of a breakdown and your own reaction.

For me it was very dangerous to not know how to have an intimate relationship. My training was poor. I was in the habit of blaming and feeling like a victim, which didn’t ever get me what I wanted. Now that I have the kind of relationship I always wanted, it’s hard for me to see other women struggling unnecessarily. Blaming my husband was a big distraction from examining my self, the only person I can control. Once I changed my focus I got my miracle.

So what you’re saying is that it’s okay for his respect and love to be conditional because he has a hero gene? I appreciate your sentiment about respect being reciprocal, but it’s really awful that you are legitimatizes a spouses abusive behavior for any reason, period. People who love one another AND know themselves show compassion to the other when they are hurt; they don’t abuse them.

Thank you so much, Laura for your approach to this topic. I was married for 30 years to a very contained man who never exploded with anger. It turned out there were problems with alcohol and what turned out to be emotional abuse and I had to leave. I have been with my second husband for 16 years. He is kind, helpful, funny and generous BUT, he has a temper and when he is stressed he sometimes explodes and says hurtful things. This is very difficult for me because I am always very careful about not saying anything which might hurt anyone’s feelings. I wondered if he was verbally abusive but from your comments and also the fact that he is always supportive and never disrespectful. I have a friend in the same situation and we decided that they simply get frustrated and we get the heat. I have also become more aware (thanks to you) to the things I say which may seem disrespectful to him.

Virginia, Sounds like you’re married to a mere mortal man–not a perfect one, but one you can have a great relationship with! I know it can be very painful to have him explode at you, but I love that you see a bigger picture of a man who is funny, supportive, generous, helpful and kind. I admire your maturity and wisdom!

What about a woman who had learned to hold her tongue (before she got married), so when her husband lashes out she just takes it (again and again)? What about a man who consistently, albeit occasionally, spews hate about his wife or others, and the woman knows not to exacerbate the situation by talking back? What if her husband’s verbal abuse has turned his wife OFF to sex and to him in general? I say in that case, DIVORCE is the answer. If one person has worked on themselves enough to hold their tongue when they are being insulted to their face, they should leave the low life who was able to hide himself for a while (while dating) and end the misery of the full fledged verbal abuser that he really is. They never change ladies. If you are a bigger person and not spewing insults back at them, and they continue to abuse, GET OUT.

GB, if he’s not physically abusive or chronically unfaithful or actively addicted to drugs, alcohol or gambling, then he will change just as soon as his wife starts treating him more respectfully in my experience. For most women, we don’t even know we’re being disrespectful. Learning how to become our best selves makes all the difference in how he responds to you. It seems like a miracle when you see the changes!


How do you expect a woman to respect a man she has been married to for 40 years after years and years of being degraded, never having been able to do anything right to please him? Oh before marriage and in front of family he was just the nicest, quietest, jolly fellow. How do I go about respecting a man that tells me to “shut the f up” anytime I ask him to do anything beyond getting out of his recliner? He rejected me sexually for a good 30 years because I tried to explain to him I needed more than a 5 minute roll in bed to be pleasured, too much “work” he said. He wants to retire at 62 (without a pension) yet wants me to keep working to supply him with healthcare. Personally I want to keep working just to be away from him. You want me to respect that type of person? Seriously?

Dee, my heart breaks when I hear how degraded and rejected you feel. I see why it’s hard to respect someone who’s treating you that way. I’m standing for your power as a wife and a woman. You are definitely the expert on your own life. I just know for me it made my life easier, not harder, when I learned what respect looks like and started treating my husband respectfully. I want the same for you. If you’re curious about what I mean, I invite you to check out my upcoming free webinar, How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for it here:

I found your site while searching about disrespectful and verbally abusive husbands because I am trying to decide about pursuing divorce. My husband doesn’t physically abusive me, and that is why I can’t seem to find adequate help. I understand that you say a person married to somebody who physically harms them, repeatedly cheats on them and is actively using alcohol/drugs is cause to divorce. I wish to ask to what degree of alcoholism is enough to pursue a divorce, though I understand you may say it is for me to judge. My husband drinks at least 3 days a week, every week. I was married to him once before and he divorced me when I sought refuge at a shelter (he put bruises on me). So first marriage lasted 7 years, we divorced for 6 years, then he convinced me he was a changed man and I remarried because I believed it was best for the family, since he professed to be a Christian and he was clean. The verbal/emotional abuse I deal with every weekend sends me into despair and I drink alot of caffeine to handle my over-eating that accompanies the abuse. I also become compulsive and purge items. I have seen a counselor but she feels I am just responding to the environment and I do not have any mental illnesses. My husband drinks and picks fights with me, talks over me, calls me names, criticizes me, tells me I am not a Christian. I can’t have a conversation with him even when he is not intoxicated because he puts me down and interrupts. He gets $200 a week after living expenses to use for beer and most likely, drugs. He gets paid on Thursday and is broke a day or two later. I can’t stand my husband, I try to avoid him, but after he fights with me, I grit my teeth, I become angry and ask him about his lies and he tells me to “not worry about it.” What do you think is in my best interest?

Tracy, I encourage you to apply for a complimentary discovery call as I think this conversation deserves more than just a brief reply.

Yes, your moron, verbal abuse IS an excuse for divorce. Stop trying to brainwash victims into thinking this is acceptable. You obviously do not understand the damage done to a woman’s (or man’s) spirit by a verbally abusive spouse. It is NEVER the victim’s fault as you are implying here. You should be ashamed of yourself to publish such an article. Respect goes both ways. You are clearly an insolent and ingorant woman who needs to get educated in the irreparable damage that comes from verbal abuse. I am a professional and I deal with victims daily. Surely you must be the type of person who would blame a rape victim for the rape itself. God help you.

It’s unbelievable what “advice ” you’re giving out Doyle . I never put my husband down yet he puts me down when he’s drunk or angry and I don’t deserve it . He’s even done this toward my teen daughter who he shouldn’t even involve in this ! I love him but can’t take it anymore especially after he’s involved my child in his verbal abuse. He apologizes says he loves me but then it happens all over again sometimes within days . He wants to move back to our home state which I will never move back to and especially now with his abusive issues and drinking problems. I’m not moving my kids and myself anywhere for this and more problems there . He can go without us. I want to live in peace and yes am having trouble letting go of my love for him but will have to . Im tired of waiting for him to change and stop drinking etc. He doesn’t physically help with the kids (one being his) and is the sole provider . I think he thinks he shouldn’t have to help with them . I’m mommy 247 I never get a break. I don’t believe I’m wrong in not moving with him because of all his problems that he’s inflicted on our family .God help me be strong to provide for my kids and myself when he moves away .

Bonnie, this sounds heartbreaking and overwhelming. No one deserves to be treated the way you have! It’s great that you have a clear vision for yourself of living in peace. I used to feel like I had to do everything. The 6 Intimacy Skills put me first so I could stop feeling overwhelmed and start receiving support from others. I hear how painful it is to make the decision to let go of your marriage when you still love him. I respect your decision and know that you are the expert on your own life. Some clients choose to practice the Intimacy Skills for a surrendered divorce that is more peaceful for them and their children. I believe that you can have that peace you’re seeking. Why not experiment with what the Intimacy Skills could do for Bonnie, regardless of your decision regarding your marriage? I have a free webinar coming up called “How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life.” You can register for it here:

Laura–I get what you’re saying. I hear the women, too. I have so much of my own crap to own and how easy it would be to just say what a rotter my guy is.
We both have our crap. And we forging forward together.
So many women I know are saying their husbands are narcissists. So easy to ‘diagnose’ others. What am I? A damaged person who is healing. And guess what? So is hubs!
The calmer I stay, the more grateful and loving TO MYSELF and to God and yes, even to my often raging hubs, the calmer things get! It’s not perfect, but it is improving!
So yeah, Laura, I get you.

when you are constantly lied to, gaslighted, dismissed, diminished, torn down, questioned repetitively, “always wrong”, “making things up”, advised to “consider meds because I’m really worried about your health, sweetheart”…..these things add up. ABUSE IS ABUSE. PERIOD. let’s for arguements sake he just got his feelings hurt and had a human reaction to what you said/did. – does that excuse him from not having self control bc you’re at home when he can clearly exhibit self control and respect in front if others in similar if the same scenarios? is it a victim’s fault that they were a part of trauma bonding without their consent? and that if they don’t submit to people pleasing then they’re pretty much just asking for the abuse? – even if he’s doing it as more of a human response, not bc he had an evil plan to marry you and destroy you, he’s still responsible for HIS ACTIONS. if he feels that dismissing you is just a simple way to avoid conflict with the least amount of yelling or stress for the both of you, it still stems from him being lazy and selfish bc he has no intention nor interest of actually fixing the problem and them victim is still left feeling worthless and very much a victim. it is excruciating. maybe you are still in shock or denial.

I agree with Andrea. You are telling people to take responsibility for verbal abuse and if we treated them better they would not be verbally abusive. You may need counseling. I do not agree with you. It is dangerous and you are encouraging women to stay in a abusive situation. Shame on you.

Dear Andrea, your vitriolic reply makes me wonder how much pain and bitterness might be hiding under that « people helping » exterior of yours. You deserve peace and happiness too. Blessings. Elizabeth.

What if myself(wife) being the victim?
He says hurtful things but dosnt take responsiblity for it, he says he dosnt mean them or he was just joking but why does he say those thibgs then, ive never ever cjticized or commentented on his habbits orway of doing things or how he decives to handle finances, i never interfare in what he does and he might even be wrong at times i support his wrong decisions, on the other hand he always has somethibg hurful to say about me that when confronted he says he didnt mean it and i am being too umature and toosensitive but he never takes responsibilty amd never appologizes

Hinozia, I’ve been amazed at how much cleaning up my side of the street really made a difference in the emotional safety in my relationship. You have nothing to lose by trying the Six Intimacy Skills, and you just might be amazed at how much influence you have to make your relationship fun again.


I am my husbands (grandmother) I’m expected to take care of him and his parents as she had. After 18 years I’ve had enough of No sex or
let alone intamacy. He is legally blind although I’ve seen him pick up a dime off the floor. & He can read a newspaper close up.
Yet his & his parents needs matter more than mine.
I have No $$ after paying for a house and credit card bills. I’m 67 years old he is 59 he is on disability. I have a very small pention.
I get that I don’t respect him. I am not respectedby him or his family. I refuse to be the whipping horse any longer.

I’m a man 74 and my wife comparisons me to other men on Facebook that are husband’s of her old girlfriends. She tells me look how thin they are and look at that pool. Then I’m called fat and poor. I worked as a system technician but lost 400 thousand in my 401k in a scandal. I had a brain tumor removed and hip and knee replacement. I took ballroom dancing for eight years but now use cane to walk.
Why do they always make it sound like the woman is verbally abused. I’m a man. During my knee replacement I stayed at my daughter’s for a month for pt. My wife ransacked my room and moved licenses I had and other things I still can’t find. I feel invaded. No sex in 25 years.

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