Overly stringent economic rules –allowing a wife only a few dollars allowance when the family has ample resources, requiring a woman to make an exacting account of every penny spent – are another way for an abusive man to control and humiliate his spouse.
Life in an unhealthy, codependent relationship is characterized by constant interrogations about day-to-day activities, invasion of privacy as mail is read and phone conversations are monitored, unrelenting arguments about time spent with family and friends, unending threats, violent destruction of valued possessions, and physical punishments for the slightest offense.
Women and children may feel that they are ‘walking on eggshells,’ forever trying to avoid disagreements or mistakes that will escalate into angry outbursts. In extreme cases, women may feel that they are under constant supervision and that even their thoughts are subject to control.
Abuse –whether physical or verbal –tends to follow a cycle that includes periods of repentance and forgiveness.
It is these ‘honeymoon’ periods that are most insidious, causing many loving women to believe that a second, third or twentieth chance will give them the peaceful, happy family of their dreams.
Unfortunately, even though a man may be sincere about changing his behavior, real change is difficult unless he is willing to spend time –possibly years – confronting his own psychological demons.
The greatest victims of an unhealthy codependent relationship are the couple’s children. Abuse in such families generally extends to children and may predispose them to either become abusive as adults or to enter a codependent relationship of their own.
Even if children are not abused themselves, witnessing violent behavior is detrimental to their healthy development.
Many mothers hope that if their children are not in the room during outbursts that they aren’t aware of the situation, but this is generally not the case.
Frightened children hear arguments from their rooms, feel the constant tension in the house and learn to deny the existence of family problems.
The best way to stop the cycle of abuse is to recognize it in its early stages and confront it before it becomes entrenched in family life.
If you find yourself in a relationship that is unhealthy, seek help from family members, your minister or pastor, or a counselor at a women’s center.
About the Author: (c) Rinatta Paries, 1998-2002. Do you know how to attract your ideal mate? Do you know how to build a fulfilling relationship, or how to reinvent yours to meet your needs? Relationship Coach Rinatta Paries can teach you the skills and techniques to attract and sustain long-term, healthy partnerships. Visit www.WhatItTakes.com where you'll find quizzes, classes, advice and a free weekly ezine. Become a "true love magnet(tm)!"