My husband is a good man, a good provider, a good father. But I feel he puts me down frequently for what I regard as minor things, such as forgetting to buy milk, not tidying up the house, etc. He can fly into a rage over these things and start to criticize and berate me in front of our young children. Even though I am a university graduate holding a good job, over the years I feel my self-esteem sinking lower and lower – that I really am incapable and stupid as he says. I am often fearful of making mistakes which he may pick on. I have tried to communicate my feelings to him but he has not changed. I’m afraid my spirit is being crushed slowly and gradually. I know I cannot change him but is there any way for me to cope?
It is not true that your husband cannot change. God can change him – He is in the business of transformation. In the meantime, you can do several things to strengthen yourself to cope with your situation. When you are strong, you will be able to help him. Know the difference when your husband is complaining or criticizing you.
Criticism vs Complaint vs Contempt
Complaint is a specific statement of anger, displeasure, or negativity against a specific act or lack of action.
Criticism is less specific but is more of attacking the person.
Contempt is the intent to insult and psychologically abuse someone, attacking his sense of self-worth.
I’m angry because you know I always need milk for my cereal and you forgot to buy it.
You’re always forgettingthings. I just can’t trust you to do anything right.
How stupid can you be,can’t you even remember a simple
thing like that? Have you no brains?
Your husband may be complaining about something you did or did not do but you have interpreted it as criticism of your character or you feel he’s insulting you or being abusive. It is important you distinguish his words, whether he is angry and complaining about your behaviour or he is attacking some aspect of your character or he is intentionally hurting you. So don’t lump everything together or jump to conclusion and don’t react the same way. But whatever it is, you need to protect yourself and not be hurt.
You cannot avoid having people and events upset you. To be able to cope, you need to strengthen your inner spirit in order not to be affected by external circumstances.
How do you feed your inner spirit to become strong?
Like the vine and branch, you can draw your strength by connectingwith the source of strength.
Nurture your spirit with His Word, prayer, fasting, etc. Praying in the spirit will edify and build you up (I Cor. 14:4).
When you are strong inwardly, you will be much better able to have the right attitude, perspective and control to deal with your situations without getting upset.
Be aware that in every situation the enemy will be prowling around seeking whom he may devour, so don’t forget to deal with his spiritual attacks, e.g. he will use your loved ones to provoke and hurt you, so don’t get angry with them but with the enemy who is using them. Use your spiritual weapons to attack back,e.g. use the Word of God to shut him up like what Jesus said, “It is written…” Protect yourself with the armour of God, to block the attacks. So it is not with worldly or fleshly methods using your own will and ways but tapping into divine supernatural resources, with God’s enablement. So, on one hand, it will help to discern the cause of what your husband is doing but on the other hand, the ultimate solution is to deal with the spiritual implications. Let God define who you are; your self-esteem is based on what God thinks of you (you are His handiwork, precious, of great worth) and not anybody else. Of course you should continue to find acceptable ways to communicate your feelings to your spouse and pray that he will understand. You may find such opportunities if you point out how the children are affected by the parents’ harsh words.
Can I suggest you pray together for your children?
This may be a way for you to get together in His Name and when He is in your midst, He will work.