Abuse Hides in the Dark. Turn on Your Light.

How Do I Stop Emotionally Abusing My Wife?

Woman supports herself on a window as her husband asks "How do I stop emotionally abusing my wife?"

A husband asks how to stop emotionally abusing his wife:

I am a verbal and emotional abuser and have a chance to save my marriage. How do I stop emotionally abusing my wife? I didn’t even know I was doing it until lately. HELP! I am suffering too!


Josh, you’re lucky that you have the chance to save your marriage. Your wife, like many other abuse victims, sees the good in you, but cannot tolerate the abuse any longer. If it happens to be too late to save your marriage, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try to stop emotionally abusing your wife.

Please understand two things:

  1. Your wife may not entirely believe that you really want to change. You’ll have to accept that she won’t believe you are changing just because you say so. Your improved behavior over time is the only proof.
  2. You are stuck in a habitual pattern of abuse. It will take time to unlearn habits and learn new communication skills. Your partner is stuck right there with you. She must learn new communication skills too, but remember that you have no control over her desire to try. You can only control yourself; attempting to control her is what got you into this mess.

Resources to Help You Stop Emotionally Abusing

In-Person Help

Finding a great individual counselor is very important. I believe you are suffering. The way to end your suffering is to figure out what causes it and how to healthfully deal with your triggers. Unraveling the beliefs and emotions causing your abusive behavior will happen quicker with help from a therapist.

If you and your wife go to marriage counseling, tell the counselor right away that you are seeking help to end your verbal abuse. That way the counselor can be wise to the dynamic of your relationship. It can also prevent making your wife responsible for “her half” of the problem that you cause. Not that she has no issues, I’m sure she does as we all do. However, she is not responsible at all for your verbal abuse.

Josh, you must entirely OWN this problem as yours and not blame anyone else for causing it if you really want to change. Marriage counseling didn’t help my relationship, but my abuser didn’t want to change – you do. 

Online Resources

Books That Can Help You Stop Emotionally Abusing People

Patricia Evans wrote a book called The Verbally Abusive Man: Can He Change? In it, Ms. Evans wrote that she holds hope for a verbally abusive man’s ability to change – she believes it can be done in many cases. She advises there be a contract between abuser and victim. It would be worth looking into until you can get a counseling appointment.

Lundy Bancroft, author of the book Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, might give you some insight into yourself. The author also helped found the Emerge program. In regard to partner abuse, Emerge states “because wanting to stop is not enough”. The group has online meetings. Also, the program’s goals for group members could help you take steps in the right direction. Share the steps with your counselor for guidance.

I hope you and your wife are able to overcome the cycle of abuse. If you can stop the cycle before it escalates into physical violence, you might have a chance.