It’s not about the power another person wields or takes; it’s about the power we surrender.
That is what I conveyed to Amy in our counseling session. She needed an answer for dealing with her demeaning husband, and it didn’t entail placating him or being little around him. It entailed boldly standing up for herself. Read Any’s story here . . .
We must speak our truth, I told her, in part because it might change the other person, but mostly because it changes us.
4 responses to “The Cookie War”
Amy has a tough road to travel if Matt does not acknowledge his control issues also.Since this his “pattern”, and Amy is to start standing up for herself how does she handle his anger over him now losing his “control”, and coping with Amy having backbone, and end kowtowing?
How will this relationship change if he is not aware of the change that needs to come from within him also?
It is my experience men are then threatened when we take back power, and get back in the driver’s seat and take back ownership of our life, or expect partnership…then the ” tug of war ” becomes more intense.
Her husband is emotionally abusive to Amy, he belittles her and has higher expectations of her than himself as a partner, and in no way even took into consideration her sad heart over a loss, her fatigue from work, and then puts her down over cookies and ruins her self confidence, within friendships over something he could have done for her, and put a cloud over the vacation she looked forward to.
He is a very self centered man, and seems to be dragging Amy down in many directions of their relationship.
I look forward to a continuation of this post, I have a keen interest in how you handle this type of relationship.
Great response, Lisa! You’re spot on when it comes to analyzing Amy and Matt, their unhealthy pattern of relating, and the difficulty over making a change.
Now for your question: How does Amy handle his belligerent and angry reaction when her backbone is fully developed? Answer: She stands tall and objects with strength. Refusing to take the bait, she says things like, “I won’t be part of this,” as she walks away. She just doesn’t engage when he’s being disprespectful. He isn’t likely to become docile at that point. He may get nastier. In that case, she leaves the premises. Once he knows he can’t bully her back into submission–after trying several times to no avail–he may be willing to change.
This new stance on Amy’s part won’t happen overnight or with a snap of a finger. She has to become familiar with and learn how to deal with her tendency to cower in the face of intimidation. Otherwise, she’ll probably sabotage her newly learned skills. Changing behavior isn’t enough. Looking through fresh eyes is vital.
With people like Amy, I help them see how wrong it is to put up with emotional abuse. I let them know it’s their birthright to be treated with dignity and respect. Anything less isn’t worth their involvement.
Yes, the tug of war intensifies when the controlling party of either sex loses the power to control the other. The key is to expect that reaction . . . and stay consistently strong. If the emotionally abusive partner isn’t willing to change, or isn’t willing to get help to change, divorce may be the only alternative. Before it reaches that point, I coach the Amy-types on being frank about what’s at stake if change doesn’t happen: “I’m letting you know, I’ve changed and I’m no longer going to be in a relationship where I’m degraded, criticized or disrespected. I’ve been thinking divorce lately.” If the abusive partner reacts in a defensive or critical way, my advice is to walk away–follow your instincts to protect and love yourself.
I’d be interested to hear your thoughts after reading this, Lisa.
Thank you for the great response to my comment.
I like the advice that looking through fresh eyes is vital, and stay consistently strong, to be prepared for the reaction, and respond with no engagement.
The “option” to let them know in advance of the “change” you desire, and that continued abuse, disrespect, and being degraded is no longer acceptable, and forewarning to a severed relationship.
I have a struggle in my life much like this and found myself falling into the “lair” of the abuse. Instead of me leaving what is my own home and walk away, I asked he remove himself when disrespectful,… in” defense” of his bad behavior he turns the table and will not accept that abuse is the reason for being removed from premise, and projects “being kicked out” with no responsibility for degrading my self worth, job, home, belongings, time, hobbies, etc.
I am now living with the result of what is at risk when you follow your instincts to protect and love yourself, have backbone, and be true to who you are.
Sometimes they are not capable of accepting the change in the relationship, and a partner who develops the inner strength, and self worth to say no to their demands, and forms of abuse that they use to control our spirit.
I believe the saying ” We teach others how we would like to be treated” is the foundation to respect.
Thank you for the inspiration to love and protect ourselves. Your counsel, and advice, makes me feel empowered for having the strength to take care of my heart and that I did the right thing by not kowtowing to degrading behavior.
Found the post! 🙂
I think the majority of people (flawed, but caring & reasonable) respond (eventually) positively to us when we make an effort to set appropriate emotional boundaries. But there is a small percentage of people that are only out for one thing – to win. They will manipulate with all kinds of mental gymnastics and covert aggression and they won’t stop until they get their way – OR – until the other party stops playing the game. That is what I had to do, step off the playing field. Now I’m trying to figure out how I got lured onto the field in the first place so I don’t repeat the pattern. Thanks for your insights!