Crazy Conversations That Are Emotionally Abusive
The following was originally written and published by Elle Renee Arters on Facebook. It resonated with so many people that I wanted to give it a permanent home online where others would be able to easily find it. With Elle’s permission, I give you these crazy conversations that are emotionally abusive. (***WARNING*** This could be triggering for some.)
Crazy Conversations That Are Emotionally Abusive
Wife: Did you spend this $195 I see in our account?
Husband: No, I don’t know what you’re talking about.
W: The $195 to Dick’s Sporting Goods? Your favorite store? You didn’t buy something? Because we hadn’t talked about it & now we’re under in our account.
H: I told you no. How did we go under? You’re supposed to be the one balancing our account. How did you let this happen?
W: I wasn’t expecting this expense.
H: Have you been checking our account every day?
W: Well… mostly, I didn’t check it yesterday, but I’ve been up on it every day this month.
H: Well, that’s the problem then. You should have checked it yesterday. You better call the bank right away & find out what happened. And you need to get this fixed – you know I’m going to the football game this afternoon & I’ll need money.
W: I’ll call the bank & see if we can get it reversed.
H: Maybe I need to take over handling the finances again. We really need to be able to depend on you tracking everything. Did you pay the internet bill? Or did you forget that too?
W: What? No, I paid that.
H: Are you sure? Or did you pay that because you’re always on the computer so you care about that, but you just don’t care if I hang out with the guys & go to the football game just even one time.
W: I don’t think that, of course I care, I’m glad you’re going today. I’m sorry, I don’t know what happened. I’ll see what I can do to fix it right now.
H: what a great game! (cleaning out the back of the truck & bringing in the tailgate gear to the garage)
W: did you have fun? (just finished cleaning up cereal dinner with the kids & notices some new items in the garage) wait… are those chairs & cooler new?
W: I’ve never seen those before. Did you buy those?? They’re not from Dick’s Sporting Goods, are they?
H: (greatly offended) I can’t believe you’re even saying that. Do you think I’m a liar?! I told you I didn’t buy anything.
W: Well, where did those come from?
H: What are you talking about? We’ve had these forever.
W: What?? No, I’ve never seen those before. These are brand new.
H: You’re crazy, you know we’ve had these. I told you. Greg gave them to us.
W: What??? You’ve never told me that. When did Greg give them to you? Why would he do that?
H: You know Greg, always buying the next bigger & better thing. He bought these earlier this year & then decided to get something else, so he gave these to us. They’re not even that nice compared to what he got.
W: He just gave them to you? You didn’t have to pay him anything for it? How come I haven’t seen them before?
H: (offended & angry) I don’t know why you haven’t seen them, they’ve been in the garage the whole time. Why are you asking me 100 questions? I didn’t do anything wrong. Greg’s wife doesn’t harass him when he buys stuff. I didn’t even buy anything and you’re nagging me. Not my fault you’re irritated at me for getting a night out while you were home with the kids. Stop taking out your anger on me.
W: (frustrated, confused & emotional) Seriously?! That’s not what I was doing! I’m not angry! I’ve never seen them before & I was just trying to ask you a question!!
H: Geeez, chill out, why do you have to get so hysterical all the time? I’m not even the one yelling even though you’re accusing me. I was just kidding with you. (calm & suddenly sweet & smiling. Walks over to give her a kiss). You take everything so seriously all the time. You didn’t even give me a chance to show you what I brought you. (hands her football memorabilia from the game). You act like I’m just this terrible monster who never does anything for you.
W: (confused & tired). I’m sorry, I don’t know what’s wrong with me. I know you do stuff for me, I don’t think that. I’m sorry, thank you.
Wife doing laundry later that week & folding husband’s clothes. Notices receipts in his pocket & pulls them out. There’s a receipt for Dick’s Sporting Goods for $195. Confronts husband.
W: What is this? You told me you didn’t buy anything at Dick’s. I called the bank to file a fraudulent claim & get the charge reversed because you said you hadn’t made that purchase!!
H: (Snatches the receipts angrily). Why are you going through my stuff?
W: I was doing your laundry for you! Why did you lie to me?!
H: I didn’t lie.
W: Yes you did! You told me you didn’t buy anything!
H: I never said that.
W: What are you talking about?! That’s exactly what you said!
H: Well, what was I supposed to do? You never let me spend anything that I need. I work my butt off all day so sue me that I didn’t want to come home to you nagging & yelling at me about one little purchase for me for a change.
W: Wait, you also told me that Greg gave you these things for free! What the heck – you just made up a whole story?! I knew I wasn’t crazy, that I hadn’t seen those chairs before! Oh my word!!!
H: See, you’re freaking hysterical, I can’t even talk to you right now. You’re so controlling. (grabs the keys & heads to the door)
W: Where do you think you’re going?! We need to talk about this! You lied straight to my face. Again!
H: There’s nothing to talk about. You don’t know what you’re talking about & you’re not even open to listening to my side. You think you know everything. I don’t even know why I’m still with you some days. Just use me for my money & you don’t even give me sex every day either. (slams door & leaves).
In counseling appointment with pastor/counselor.
PC: So did you guys read the assignment & work on your communication this past week? Can you give me an example of how you’ve shown love to your wife, and how you’ve shown respect to your husband?
H: (jumps in immediately) I think this week has gone really well. (smiles at W and reaches to take her hand. W is sullen & weary & irritated by his sudden affection. H keeps pursuing & she reluctantly lets him hold her hand while he also snuggles up closer & puts his other arm around her)
PC: that’s great! I’m so pleased that you’re taking this seriously & working on your marriage. Was there any specific way you showed her love this week?
H: I went to a game with the guys this past week, and I knew she was probably tired & maybe a little jealous that I got to go out while she stayed home with the kids. Even though we were tight on money, I made sure to bring her back her favorite new tumbler that she’d been wanting.
PC: that’s great H! W, how did that make you feel to know he had done that for you?
W: (weary & quiet). Fine.
PC: (puzzled & disappointed) Just fine? He was considering how you must have felt at home by yourself & wanted to know he was thinking about you. Sounds like he was looking out for your heart, helping you know you didn’t have any reason to be jealous. That just seemed… fine, to you?
W: (realizing she had given the wrong answer) No, I wasn’t even jealous. That’s not it, it was… (sigh) very sweet, yes, it was very thoughtful of him.
PC: (pleased, affirming & smiling) Good! And W, how do you feel about this week? Was there a specific way you showed him respect?
W: (trying to figure out how to explain the lying situation. Lets go of H’s hand). Well… I did want to bring up one thing…
H: (interrupts) Well, PC, there was one more thing I wanted to talk about actually. Now, I know I shouldn’t have gotten upset, but we had a little misunderstanding about this one small purchase I made without asking her earlier this week. I know she likes to be in control of all our finances & I’m trying to do a good job leading her in how to budget & manage. She made a little mistake & our account went under. We got a little angrier than we should have at each other and I even had to leave for a bit to cool down so I didn’t say anything I’d regret. And I know I need to do a better job at that. I take full ownership for my part. But I think we did a good job working through it. Everyone makes mistakes, I’m not mad at her, we just have to keep working harder through these kinds of things. I love her, our marriage is worth it & I’m committed to making us work. (leans over to give her a kiss while she’s visibly upset).
PC: Absolutely, I’m so happy to hear you say that. Not enough good men & women take this serious enough these days. Sounds like you guys handled it well. You owned it and apologized. I’m assuming W, you did too?
W: What? No, I didn’t apologize. That’s not what happened.
PC: (puzzled, disappointed & a little irritated). Well, he just told me what happened. You never asked him for forgiveness for your part in the misunderstanding?
W: There wasn’t a misunderstanding. He lied to me about a purchase he made. He told me he didn’t buy anything at Dick’s & then he brought home chairs & a cooler that he said Ryan gave him & then I found this receipt, and…
H: (interrupts) I never said Ryan gave me those things.
W: (flustered) I meant Greg. It was Greg, right? You said he had bought those things for you because…
H: (interrupts) I never said Greg bought me those things.
W: (frustrated & flustered) Yes you did! Oh wait, I meant he brought you those things. It doesn’t matter. The point is…
PC: (interrupts) Hold on! I don’t think we want to drag all this back up. The details don’t really matter. The point is you guys had worked through it, H apologized, even gave you a gift. If you forgave him, then we really don’t need to be bringing this back up. Are you ready W to apologize so he can also extend forgiveness to you and we can move beyond this?
W: I didn’t do anything wrong!
H: (exchanges knowing look with PC & heaves a heavy, victimized sigh) I just don’t know what else to do some days. It’s like nothing I do is ever enough. I want this marriage to work, but I just don’t know if W does.
PC: (scrutinized, disapproving look at W while he takes some counseling notes on his pad of paper)
W: I’m… I’m sorry. I just, I was wanting… I don’t know. I guess… I’m sorry.
H: I forgive you. (charming smile) See, that wasn’t so hard? (light laugh & kisses her on the cheek)
W: (bewildered & silent).
Gaslighting. Minimizing. Blameshifting. Denying. Triangulation. Intimidation. Just to name a few of the tactics seen above.
This scenario plays out in relationships every. single. day.
Chronic lying will make a person feel crazy, because her reality & judgment is being assaulted – the abuser demands her reality & judgment be whatever he needs it to be to get what he wants. There is simply no respect for the other person’s truth, perspective or facts.
This is so spot on I feel like maybe you taped our conversations and a hinged the name of the stores and people to protect my identity.
Our couples counselors (from church) would always say “we’re not here to play he-said she-said” so I could never fully explain. So aggravating.
“And then to try to describe it. Its styrofoam cups”.
I get this big time. It could be a jar of jam , or the way pot lids sit in the drawer. You try to tell the story and it sounds silly, even to yourself. Until there are many, many stories, and you string them together, and you finally realize what is going on. Especially after you have read the stuff Natalie writes! Thanks Natalie, found you first from your Dealbreakers for Single Women article
Well, it’s not “the other person’s” truth or facts. It’s just “the truth.” A shocking number of people distort, disregard, or blatantly deny the truth. So much horror is due to people’s simple (perverse) refusal to acknowledge objective truth which exists outside of us and which actually reigns. Perspective and perception do not affect its existence nor its absolute rule.
Whew. It does trigger me. Also the comment when the counselor says let’s not get caught up in the details, (I’ve heard that from a counselor before). Where often it’s in the details that the lying, gaslighting or manipulation is at play.
This is my life! It incredible! But I do not apologize for something I did not do! I got upset just reading it. Crazy mzking!
Oh Natalie. I actually burst out laughing. This is so familiar. At the same time I had tears in my eyes for all women still in this position. Thank you for what you are doing for abused women. Sisters like you, Annie Kaszina, Melanie Tonia Evans, Leslie Vernick, Karen Woodall, have all been critically important in helping me find my wings and getting away from the abusive marriage and getting my head around the final blow: weaponising and alienating my three daughters from me. An article by Brad Hambrick, “Living with a chronically self-centered spouse”, finally tipped the scales. There were other books and articles too that opened my eyes. But: You were the first one to teach me that God loves his precious daughters so much He does not want to see us with the waters coming in unto our souls, sinking in deep mire, hearts and spirits broken, quartered limb from limb emotionally by wild horses driven by the devil himself. You helped me understand that I was not leaving a marriage, but a cold, soulless arrangement enabling and benefiting only a promise-breaking weakling with no integrity or spiritual depth – by giving him unlimited access to free house labour, all the money I earned, a convenient 24/7 emotional punching bag, my womb to breed him captive victims to manipulate at will, and fornication at his pleasure without strings attached. 33years captive, one year flying free. I pray to God more women in this position will realise they are declining the wonderful gift of coming to play in God’s garden without fear (your beautiful article, remember?) I still have healing to do, and struggle financially (stolen blind by this man, who was also eventually disbarred as lawyer for trust fund theft and fraud.) But praise God, my dog and I live a peaceful life without constant strife and underhanded, backstabbing dramas. Thank you and may you receive double what you give, Natalie. God bless you.
Thank you for this encouraging comment, Jenny! Big hugs to you!
As disgustingly manipulative as the husband in this little gem of a conversation is, I still can’t help but feel this is marginally better than a situation in which the wife wouldn’t even dare to ask about a purchase because he controls all the finances, and if she presumes to discuss money (like, you know, an equal adult partner who also WORKS and contributes to the inflow of money to the bank account to which she has no access), she’ll get an ugly verbal abuse attack along the lines of, “you stupid bitch, it’s none of your business how I handle my money”.
Well, yes – there’s that…
I was thinking the same. The W was pretty bold and kept questioning and for me, and my abuser learned how to get me to the “I’m sorry” part way faster, especially at the end. What got me was the initial flipping/deflecting. My goodness, that was dead on! It got a little less believable for me when the PC wasn’t picking up on the W being visibly weak and sullen and bewildered, but I get that it’s because there are times when the PC is buddy-buddy with the H and then you just feel ganged up on. Ugh. I still have so much healing to do and I’ve been free 10 years!
I can testify that counselor absolutely do not puck up on those signs. Three different ones we tried and not one noticied that I wasn’t getting my side out until one day I just exploded on both of them saying “When do I get a chance to tell my side of the story ” The counselor just blinked bewildered and said, ” go ahead.” When I finished she turned to my husband and said, “Hearing that, do you have anything to say to Kathy?” He replied, “Not really. Why would I?” After that, the mask came off and for the very first time, I actually had a professional affirm MY experience. If I hadn’t snapped like that the guilting for not playing along with his story would have just kept going; rinse and repeat.
SPOT ON. Women, if this sounds like your marriage, get Natalie’s book. Read it. Stop going to couples’ therapy. Get your OWN therapist (not a Christian/Biblical one… a regular secular one). And start planning your exit strategy.
This crazymaking is no kind of life for you or your kids! You will not regret leaving. You will only regret how long you stayed and seeped in that toxic abuse.
Like a thousand of these. He wouldn’t blatantly lie about a purchase but to be honest, I think I was so cowed that I never brought up all the niggling questions.
Mine would mostly attack me with a barrage of questions, no time to think, and I’m trying to follow where this train is going. Most of the time, he coukd have gotten the answer with one solid question.
This one “conversation” I remember so well. We had construction guys on property. He starts asking me about some Styrofoam cups we had in the garage for years that I had finally thrown away. He asked where the cups were. I said I has thrown away. He went BALLISTIC and barrage me with questions about the stupid cups. It was an attack, just like with a weapon to my mind. Awful. But I finally got a word in and said, why are you so angry about the cups?! He says, “I need some for the guys to drink their tea!” I just stared at him. All of this awful. I daid, “I HAVE CUPE!! Just not THOSE cups!” And then he was mad again, “WE’LL WHY DIDN’T YOU SAY YOU HAD CUPS?!” I replied, “Because you never told me what you needed was tea holders. You were already yelling about those cups so I thought those cups were special in some way.” And he says, wait for it…”Why would you think THAT?!” in his “you’re stupid but I don’t want you to be able to tell people I called you stupid” tone.
So many attacks. And then to try to describe it. Its styrofoam cups…
And you know how expensive and rare styrofoam cups are. (Eye roll.) I think they just LOOK for excuses to slice us up. I’m so glad you’re out, Debby.
Styrofoam cups. A garbage bag you tore by mistake while trying to fit it on the can. A pile of veggie scraps that went into the trash rather than in the compost bin (yes, he actually made me dig for those!). A plastic package belonging an Elsa&Anna toy storage box. It seems no excuse is too lame, no object too trivial to make us feel like worthless, stupid, crazy idiots.
If there is one regret I have, it’s being the dupe of such treatment for so long. I would cry myself to sleep, sobbing to God, and He told me, “dear child, all the compost heaps and plastic packages in the world are not worth a single tear of yours.” I knew it, I knew God knew it, and I kept telling, crying, talking to, reasoning with my husband to get him to understand this simple basic truth. But it was useless, and it wasn’t until I found your website that I understood WHY: he is an abusive bully who wants to maim my soul in order to keep control over it. He has no appreciation whatsoever of a soul that is undamaged, whole, devoted and loving.