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Is My Spouse Abusive or Do We Just Fight a Lot?

On Behalf of | Nov 21, 2022 | Divorce

All couples fight – in fact, relationship experts say that couples who do not fight may be in deeper trouble than those who fight frequently. However, what is key for a healthy relationship is that a couple fights fairly and that they can come back together after facing conflict.

When you are in a relationship, especially one that involves a lot of conflict, it can be difficult to know just how much conflict – and what kind of conflict – is normal. This is especially true if you grew up in a home with high-conflict parents. If you feel unhappy or unsafe in your marriage, it is important to accurately assess whether you are dealing with marital abuse. Here, we offer some tips from relationship experts to help you determine whether your marital conflict is normal. If you feel it is not, consider scheduling a consultation with an Illinois divorce attorney.

Normal Marital Conflict vs. Abuse

Equality and fairness are essential in a marriage or domestic partnership. You deserve to feel valued by your partner. While everybody sometimes says things they do not mean in a fight, if your partner regularly makes you feel belittled or devalued, this may be a sign of relationship abuse.

In particular, verbal abuse is communication that is used to assert power and control. It could be direct – like a partner who says, “Wow, you have really let yourself go” – or it could be more subtle, like a partner who looks at you getting ready to go out and says, “You think that looks good?” or who simply rolls their eyes and shakes their head at you. Any of these acts or statements are not communicating something meaningful except to make you feel bad.

Another hallmark of verbal abuse is that it often gets worse with them. If your partner rarely used to make you feel bad, but now engages regularly in any of the following behaviors, they may be abusing you:

  • Mocks or ridicules you

  • Belittles or insults you

  • Bullies or harasses you

  • Invades your privacy or acts suspicious all the time

  • Blames you for everything

  • Ignores your efforts to connect or reconcile

  • Makes you feel powerless, afraid, or unable to come up with the right answer

If you feel your partner is doing any of these things and you approach them to have a good faith conversation about the problem, your partner’s response will tell you a lot about whether the conflict you are experiencing is normal or abusive. In a healthy relationship, your partner may be defensive but will ultimately respond with empathy and apologize, and then try to find ways to make it right. In an abusive relationship, your spouse will deny your complaints or blame them on you.

Contact a Chicago, IL Domestic Violence Lawyer

It can be hard to determine whether your conflict with your spouse is normal, especially if your spouse gaslights you or otherwise manipulates you into thinking you deserve the abuse. If you are considering divorce from an abusive spouse, it is important to plan your departure carefully so that you and any children are safe. Call NextLevel Law, P.C. by Daniel R. Hernandez, Esq. today to schedule a free, confidential consultation with one of our Chicago, IL domestic violence and divorce lawyers to find out more about your options for protecting yourself.