Dismissing Feelings Through Lack of Communication

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Verbal abuse, the use of words to hurt can also be accomplished by refusing to communicate. When your spouse dismisses your feelings through a lack of communication you are being verbally abused.

Refusing to talk about or validate your feelings is just as abusive as using words to put you down or humiliate you. Your spouse may give you the silent treatment or belittle you for having certain feelings.

Doing so minimizes you and your feelings. When your feelings are minimized in such a way, you eventually learn to ignore your own feelings. You end up ignored by your spouse and yourself.

How do you know if your feelings are being dismissed?

1. As I said above, your spouse gives you the silent treatment. If you express feelings they are not happy with, they respond by not responding. You want to let someone know how little he/she means to you…give them the silent treatment.

For example, Cathy is a believer is honest communication, her husband Ed is a conflict avoider. When Cathy says, "It hurt my feelings when you said I was common." Ed's response to Cathy sharing her feelings is to clam up and refuse to talk about Cathy, her feelings or the demeaning remark he made.

Either Cathy's feelings are unimportant to Ed or, Ed never learned to engage in a conversation he fears will take a negative turn.

Whatever the reason, due to Ed's unwillingness to communicate their marriage is doomed. 

2. Your spouse may acknowledge your feelings but do nothing to change the situation. He/she may be a great listener and communicator, but poor at taking the steps needed to solve marital problems. Your spouse appears to care by listening but shows how little he/she cares by not taking action.

Ben's wife, Ashley loves to shop. Ben communicates to Ashley that her shopping is causing financial problems for the couple. Ashley listens, tells Ben she is sorry and will get the problem under control. The next day, Ashley spends $400 on a new pair of shoes. 

She sent a loud message to Ben that his concerns over finances are of no concern to her. Ben, in this situation, has a choice. He can take away her access to money or, get a second job. Whatever choice he makes Ben is going to become resentful of Ashley's dismissal of his concerns and we all know what resentment does to a marriage. It isn't pretty!

3. Your spouse listens and then belittles you for feeling the way you do. Have you ever sat down, opened your heart to your spouse only to have him/her tell you, you are being silly? OUCH! You learn to hide your feelings. You feel insecure in the relationship and doubt your own feelings. You become the child; your spouse becomes the parent.

Ginny can do no wrong, James, her husband can do no right. Ginny emasculates him at every turn by belittling his feeling and opinions. If James says the children need to go to bed earlier, Ginny rolls her eyes and puts them to bed later. James doesn't have a voice in his own marriage because he fears Ginny's constant negative reaction to any opinion, thought or feeling he shares.

Ginny is going to one day wish she had respected her husband!

Verbal abuse can be hard to identify and respond to. Unlike physical abuse that leaves scars for others to see, verbal abuse leaves emotional scars. Although those scars are hidden, they are just as devastating. Have you found yourself in a verbally abusive marriage?

More About Verbal And Emotional Abuse:

Does Your Spouse Call You Names?
Does Your Spouse Use Words to Shame You?
Does Your Spouse Yell, Swear and Scream at You?
Does Your Spouse Use Threats to Intimidate You?
Does Your Spouse Blame You for Their Bad Behavior?
Is Your Marriage Making You Sick?
Is Your Spouse Verbally Manipulating You?