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His Verbal Abuse: Are You Missing Your Husband’s Intent?

By on October 25, 2007

Do you ever consider that your husband’s verbal abuse might be intentional? Does he have excuses for engaging in this form of abuse that you accept, but that in truth, shouldn’t be excusable?

Perhaps you have brushed aside his verbal abuse in the past, but you are here reading this article because now, you don’t want to take it anymore. But how do you get him to stop, right?


If you are ready for your verbally abusive relationship to end, if you are tried of being an abused woman, you might be inclined to tell your husband just how much this hurts you emotionally. Then he’ll give it up, you tell yourself.

Well, maybe he will. Then again, maybe he won’t.

You need to be prepared for an unpleasant surprise. Yes, be prepared for the worst, but still hold out an expectation for the best.

See, whether you have thought about it this way or not–and I suspect you have not, actually–your husband’s verbal abuse might be intentional. This is particularly likely to be the case if he suffers from unhealthy levels of narcissism. And if he is diagnosable as having actual Narcissistic Personality Disorder or NPD, this probably is the case.

I know, this isn’t the type of thing you want to hear. Nonetheless, it is the type of thing you need to hear. It is pointless enduring his verbal abuse thinking that if you just ignore it or forgive him or keep showing you just how much you love him or care, things are going to change.

Sorry, but those suffering what you’ll see discussed on the internet as unhealthy levels of narcissism, malignant narcissism, or pathological narcissism all refer to levels of narcissism that result in a person who is poor partner material. These men use not only verbal abuse regularly, but they are proponents of emotional or psychological abuse, economic abuse, social abuse, and sexual abuse, too.

Did you think I forgot to talk about physical abuse? No, I intentionally left that out. See, many abusive narcissists can be successful in their careers or professional lives while they make their home lives miserable with these other forms of abuse–forms of abuse that get them the results they want. Yes, they remain in control of their wives and their children. Because they are not impulsive men, plus they often have a lot to lose, they aren’t going to engage in physical abuse because that can get them in trouble with the law. When other forms of abuse are effective in getting them what they want, why engage in behaviors that might raise eyebrows?

Those suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder, the personality disorder now used to label the type of individuals previously called sociopaths, and before that, psychopaths, are the ones who are inclined to use physical abuse. Well, just as there are men who suffer from unhealthy levels of narcissism who don’t suffer from Narcissistic Personality Disorder, you are going to see some men who merely have antisocial tendencies who behave this way, too.

But let’s get back to the topic of verbal abuse. Am I saying that all men who engage in verbal abuse are narcissists or have antisocial tendencies and you can’t expect them to change? No, I am not saying that. I believe some men use verbal abuse almost out of habit. They can learn other ways of communicating that don’t involve abuse.

I suspect that the men likely to change might come from backgrounds not unlike those of you and other women who suffer their abuse.

What do I mean by this exactly? Well, think of yourself or other women who endure a husband’s verbal abuse. Don’t you think some of you do so because you grew up in families where your parents verbally abused you? In other words, while you have never liked it, because there is something familiar about it, you tolerate it when others who came from healthier families would not.

Yes, yourhusband might engage in verbal abuse because he is essentially modeling the communication patterns of a verbally abusive parent. When he learns how he pierces your heart and self esteem regularly with his verbal abuse, however, he might elect to try and change.

Some men truly don’t realize how painful their verbal abuse is. When they see a videotape or hear an audiotape of their behavior, they are often shocked. They want to change.

These are the men who often do well in anger management classes, couples communication, or therapy. They practice the new skills they are taught. They are also typically grateful for the help.

If you tell your husband that his verbal abuse hurts and he tells you you’re being too sensitive and makes other excuses, that is not a good sign. But if he blows up and you’re then hit with another barrage of verbal abuse, that is a dismal sign. You have probably triggered his narcissistic rage. Who are you to suggest that he is doing anything wrong and needs to change his ways? Where does a nothing like you get off telling him, a somebody, something like that?

Oh, there is a chance the narcissist might feign remorse. But if you get him to go into couples’ therapy, watch very carefully. I suspect he will try to charm the therapist and convince that person you are the problem. He will want the therapist to fix you, not him. And if the therapist tries to confront him, he might well fly into a narcissistic rage and engage in an onslaught of verbal abuse against the therapist.

Sometimes a narcissist will play along in therapy for a little while. He might enjoy the attention of the therapist if he feels the therapist has impressive credentials–like he has written a New York Times Bestseller. But again, he is not going to actually try and implement behavioral change strategies, though he certainly might press you to do so. And if you don’t do as he pleases, he’ll have some new psychological terms with which to label you, of course.

I think if you watch your spouse with eyes wide open, you will know in your heart if he is trying to change. Indeed, if he is struggling to do better, then your marriage can probably be saved. But if he responds to your suggestions with rage, you might want to start trying to find the name of a good divorce attorney. While you might not elecet to leave your narcissisitic and verbally abusive spouse immediately, that day will likely come.

When you understand the rationale or intent behind your husband’s verbal abuse, you have a good idea as to whether or not your marriage should be saved.

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