Edith: “I don’t understand his behaviors. He told me a few minutes ago that he loves me, yet he’s calling me stupid and lazy for leaving dirty dishes in the sink. Why does he say he loves and then treats me this way?”
“Why does he say he loves me, and then hurts me?” Women in abusive and potentially abusive relationships often find themselves asking this question.
Before we can answer the question, “How can he say he loves me and then hurt me?” we must first define what love is. Although most people agree that certain behaviors are associated with love, there are individual differences. I associate love with hearing the words “I love you,” physical and emotional intimacy, the acknowledgment of occasions that are important to me, listening to and validating my feelings, appreciation of the things I do, assistance with child care and household duties.
- How did you define love before you entered your relationship?
In an abusive relationship, what a woman considered to be love when she entered the relationship changes over time.
- f you are in a relationship now, ask yourself — how you know that your partner loves you
- How do you define love now?
- How does that definition differ from your definition of love before you entered the relationship?
- Has your definition of loved changed to accommodate your partner’s behaviors or beliefs about love?
For example, some women come to believe that the fact that their husband wants to have sex with them means that he loves them, even when he physically and/or emotionally abuses them. Or women come to believe that a man’s gifts, apologies, and extra attention after he physically or emotionally attacks them is a sign that he still loves them. His words and actions are inconsistent, which leads to confusion.
- Do you ever feel confused about your partner’s feelings for you because his actions contradict his words?
If you feel confused by your partner’s behaviors or feel that your definition of love has changed to accommodate his behaviors, you probably wonder how you got to this place.
In this blog and series of blogs, I discuss the concept of “love” and how it applies in abusive relationships. My next blog will discuss how an abuser’s actions gradually change his partner’s definition of love, view of herself, and ultimately, her own behaviors and habits. Later blogs will provide some solutions for women who are in abusive relationships. This material will be presented from a Christian perspective. I will share my insight as a survivor of domestic abuse and as the author of The Path to Hope.
Dig into the well: ” How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings (Psalm 36:7, NIV).
Check out my book on Amazon or Barnes and Noble, The Path to Hope: Restoring the Spirit of the Abused Christian Woman for more on how transformation occurs.