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Need advice, is wife emotional abuse to me?

Community Member

So the situation is over the last year I have realised my wife has continually abused me for much of our marriage.

A year ago my life changed completely when after 45 years I met my Birth Mother (im adopted). All of the negative self image, self hatred, anger and constant low level depression left me. I felt like a fog cleared from my mind and felt generally content most of the time.

Fast forward to now and I have happily been walking and exercising most mornings, so feel healthy and look healthy. Have a quiet self confidence now and generally don't care what nasty people try to do me, water off a ducks back and all.

But I don't enjoy coming home to my wife. We have a 13 yr son together and she has a 23 year son living with us too. So I am asking am I right is seeing all these things below as abuse?

I am watched with surveillance in every move I make. If I am cooking dinner, I am told from the lounge I am doing it wrong, don't do that, don't add that, don't set the temp to that. I used to enjoy cooking, now I dread it that much I try to put my back to her so she can't see what I am doing.

Name calling and sniping. Anything that I did or didn't do is saved up, and when I walk through the door, I am interrogated or asked did I forget something, or my favourite - don't you have something to tell me?

I am told I never listen to her, and when an event comes up I am scolded for not remembering it. Ok so maybe sometimes I did forget it, but not all the time. This issue I am sure she has differently reality to me. When I said one day "that's your reality, not mine" it got me thinking, is she gaslighting me?

If asked a question like have you seen something or do remember something, I answer honestly yes or no or as best as I can. But that is never enough and after asking the same question 3 or 4 times I start getting angry. Its like I am 5years old and caught out by a parent lying. Ok yes I raise my voice in anger, but that is a frustration anger of being taken for a liar.

Silent treatment has been increasing in frequency. There has been times now when it is triggered by my looking at her "the wrong way". After a I finally give in and ask what's wrong. Answer is usually nothing wrong with her, I was the one giving the silent treatment. Huh? Other times its mostly about non-compliance with her wishes, or if I know for certain I am right when accused of something and stand my ground firmly.

So I decided not react and last night she slept in the spare room.


10 Replies 10

white knight
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi, welcome

Youve carbon copies my first wife and after 11 years it led to my only suicide attempt. We had 2 daughters then 7 and 3yo.

My father once said “better to be a part time dad than no dad at all”. Armed with his memory I left.

The silent treatment is a form of abuse, actually it is a weapon/method used by narcissists. My wife was a master but ultimately they lose because you can’t take it any longer and seek safety.

I too cook dinners and have to be left alone to do it all. I relate to your feeling of being treated like a child.

Gaslighting? Not really but not far from it. Close to it because claiming it wasn’t her that gave the silent treatment is so frustrating when you know she does it all the time.

My first wife played me like a toy. I’d also wash clothes and hang them on the line. She’d wake at 2pm and rehang them all. She’d deliberately take a very long time and that meant me looking after the children when we had a home business to run. I think you get the picture. Contempt is the word.

If her intent was to send you to a mental institution then yes, but manipulation, control, disrespect- yes. So what can you do?

  • Attend family counseling and if she refuses then go alone with the plan to learn to cope with her. If she attends then be prepared for her to deny it all.
  • google- beyondblue topic the definition of abuse
  • google- beyondblue topic wit, the only answer to torment
  • google - queen witch hermit waif
  • Consider accepting that even a reduction in such behaviour from her the traits will remain. Start planning an exit strategy for less anxiety if the time came. Luckily I purchased an old caravan and took it to a caravan park where I remained until I sorted my future and a financial settlement.

Living in an environment that you feel like a prisoner in is not sustainable.

Remember to take care of your health.

Repost anytime


Community Member

I Just wondered, has your wife’s behaviour deteriorated over the past year since you found a new level of confidence? Or, is it that you have become aware of her behaviour as being toxic, given you feel more self aware and awake in your own skin?

Hope she is open to counselling for the two of you.

For a long time I felt she is abusive, but I pushed it aside and tried to make her happy thinking "happy wife happy life". And try to make the marriage work for kids.

My own self problems probably meant not much effort on her behalf to make me feel bad, when I already felt bad about myself.

Now I am more positive, I have noticed the attempts to pull me down.

Its probably that I am standing my ground more, being more confident and not giving ground as much as I used to. Yeah I am making a conscious choice to fight back I suppose. A clearer head meant when accused of something, instead of rolling over and saying Ok your right, I have asked myself "no that's not right, I did/didn't do that like that etc".

Ayway about 2 months I came to realise that the problem is shared, so did some google time and did what many online sits say - be firm, its ok to say no, don't give in to passive aggression. Tried less on my behalf to be horrible person.

About 2 months ago a silent treatment I let run it course and she snapped out of it about 5 days later.

So this current silent treatment is now 5 weeks old. Apparently I said something she disagreed with. That was relayed to me 2 weeks ago via Facebook Messaging. She settled down a bit that afternoon but the Silent Treatment continued with less vigour.

Last week, she put a contact film on the window that looks onto the lounge room. I usually sit on the other side of that window to watch movies or tv series. During the COVID 19 lock down I worked from home there. I have been back at work full time as of Tuesday last week, the contact went up Thursday. Yeah, its a message. Again, I did not react and wondered how long until she realises she need to tell me whats wrong, and not PA me into submission.

Mothersday weekend she stayed home. Made a real show of getting up and leaving the room when I entered and locked herself away (loud door closing) in the bedroom. Around 3pm I asked if she was going to see her mum today, she said she didn't feel like. I said OK and left the room.

All week she has not been eating dinner with us. That's a message to me. But also she is seriously dieting in reaction to my weight loss. Theres other threads on that topic I am aware of and what it means.

Last night she slept in another room.

Still no conversation about what is bugging her.

And I am not going to be the one to ask. Its her problem with me, I am happy to talk, but not grovel or apologise.

If I ask, is that the right thing to do?

You know, I’m a mother who reunited with my son who was adopted as a new born baby. So forgive me if I say I have a special deep compassion for adopted people.

Dear man, it’s wonderful to read that you have a stronger sense of you, of the fact that you have grown, that you feel stronger since meeting your Mother. Great. Really great. Yes! You came from a real human being 👍🙂

I wonder if that given your relationship with your wife was established when you were not so sure of yourself, when you had less sense of security... that somehow you and your wife found a workable bond (if not a bit unbalanced), a kind of co- dependency that was a magnet for you both’- and whilst you have shifted in new ways, your wife is stuck in the original relationship paradigm.

You know?

And now, she doesn’t know quite know who you are? You are new, things have shifted.

Reunion is no little thing, whatever the ongoing outcome.

If you love her, or at least want to salvage your marriage, the only way forward is to talk.

If you have to propel that conversation, that doesn’t diminish you, or mean that you are grovelling.

It’s really about how you feel about yourself and whether you want this to continue to be a game of ‘power’ - ( which your wife seems to be playing in a tragically weird and lost way)

I’m sorry, I’m sure someone will come along soon with some real help.

But meantime, I just want to reach out and say... how bad would it be if you took charge (with human kindness) and gently pushed for a proper conversation. If you are a feeling the sense of being a stronger person, you may find at some point, that true vulnerability ( to your surprise) is going to easier - think about it.

You don’t have to act on it of course!

But... could you risk taking the lead in a difficult conversation without feeling bad or abused?

I don’t know, maybe something to think and meditate on? Definitely don’t do anything that will damage or compromise your new found integrity.

But at the same time - can you imagine moving forward, finding the right words to address this really sad situation?

Take care.

yeah thanks phoebewings.

Meeting your own child would have been life changing for you too, Lots of deep personal stuff there that is your story. I hope you have a relationship free of hangups.

I guess I am at a cross roads.

Do I play the brinkmanship game and see if she figures out that I am not going to be a victim. End result is possible separation.

Or do I engage and reach a compromise? that involves a conversation, which I am worried will turn bad. I'm an introvert so have a distinct disadvantage in an emotional conversation.

Ok yeah I am flawed and maybe a relationship based on me being depressive and open to co-dependence was the original bond. I see that. And maybe my maturation is fueling the attempts to keep me in line? Possibly.

But home should be a safe place. My partner should be someone I trust. But I don't trust her. I am scared anything I say will be used against me.

It took me 10years to open up about my adoption to her. looking back I think that was because I was not expecting compassion. Even then, I did not fully admit how it fueled my low self esteem and sense of worth. Another thing I have in common with my mother - the more people know, the more can be used against you. Her dad (my grandfather) was like that too. It seems apprehension/suspicion is genetic in my lineage.

So back on point, most interactions I come away feeling bad. Guilt, anger, frustration, confusion. She says I am not a victim, but the fact that I think I am surely says I am? Us introverts ask a lot of questions of our own actions and I cannot for sure say I am the cause most of the time. Sometimes yes, but no one is perfect and we all make mistakes.

as you all can see by the number of my posts (2, long time lurker), I have an extremely strong sense of self reliance, and very rarely ask for help. Funnily enough, my mother is like that too.

Anyway, I am interested in hearing other peoples perspective, because I am willing to accept my reality may be flawed, and am open to hear of alternatives, or some point that I missed. Growth comes from learning, not by stubbornness.

Hi Why,

Aye, reunion was an emotional roller coaster for us both, my son and I - and significant others.

We knew exactly who we were to each other from the first eye contact and our long, forever hug...and that’s not easy to translate into our daily lives, to live it without disrupting other lives. It was darned hard in between the joy.

Went through so much together, and we are very close 20 years on.

I’m an only child who parents died when I was relatively young, Mothers side of family non-existant and I bore no real resemblance to my Fathers side. So...apart from the deep Motherly need I had to find my son -on another level, I also get the sense of peace you may have felt when you found kin, living kin so that you are no longer just one of one - but have roots. Can’t begin to relate the crazy unexpected likenesses, the little things that are such incredible coincidences. You know?

You said, home should be a safe place, but you do not trust your partner to hold your feelings and share your inner most thoughts with compassion.

As you’ve written more, and painted the picture with more detail - I don’t know what to say. I’m not sure how much love you can hold for someone who feels more like ‘the enemy’ than your team mate in life.

It seems to me, in life, mutual communications etc can go horribly pear shaped..and can be turned around.

But this sounds ....I don’t know...more about her maybe.

Your partner is a victim of her own making too, by shutting down and wrecking the world around her.

Is she perhaps jealous of your natural Mother? Is it a connection that has taken some of the power out of her ‘hold’ over you? And she can’t deal with whatever emotions are crashing around in her heart?

What do you really think you’ll do going forward? Do you want this marriage to survive?

I’m sorry if I went all agony aunt on you, suggesting you can do this and that.
Frankly, I feel very defensive for you!
You don’t need cruelty in your life.

I hope at least talking about it here helps.

And advance apologies if anything I have written offends.

Its easy to be an armchair voice of reason and spout stuff that missed the point. If I have - I’m sorry.

Thanks Phoebewings

I take no offence and am thick skinned.

Besides, I am here asking for brutal honest advice. Lay it on I can take it.

Yes that is a good question. Do I want this marriage to survive?

in its present form, no.

as equals, yes. how to get there as equals? I have no idea.

hi Whyisme1973.

On reading your story so far it sounds like both you and your wife have different issues to contend with. And I see that you have tried different ways of coping and dealing with your wife. I would agree the way in which wife talks to you is abusive as well.

Please keep in mind that all I know i from your previous posts...

behaviors repeated over a period of time become stronger and the more likely they will be used over and over again. Her actions towards you may therefore be unconscious born out of habit. It could be something she observed in her own childhood?

I hope you do not mind my asking this...

have you had an opportunity to talk your wife about the effect her statements have on you? if so, what was the reaction? Use "I" statements here - this ca be more effective and less threatening than "you" statements.

if your wife was not eating dinner with you and rest of the family, have you tried to listen to her to get to the bottom of her issues? Of course, your wife may not want to talk about it which is a different matter.

One thing that helped me is to realise I cannot change another persons behaviour. Except I can change the way to react to them. And perhaps that change in myself could effect a change in my partner in the way she addresses you?

I could be totally off the path here and everything mentioned about possibly being a narcissist or whatever is true.

Peace to you,


Hi. whyisme

I think you might have missed my original post. It described my dealings with similar issues. If not that’s fine.