Help! I Think My Spouse Is Manipulating Me (Part II)
Yesterday, we talked about how to take responsibility for your own heart and actions when your spouse manipulates you. Even when your spouse is the one causing the pain, you are still responsible for loving your spouse and doing what you can to prevent resentment from setting in.
Once you’ve prayed and taken an honest look at yourself, confronting your spouse—even if doing so is difficult or causes conflict—is the most loving thing you can do.
1. Ask questions and make calm statements to help reveal your spouse’s true desires and behavior. Do this as gently as possible; defensiveness will make it harder to expose the heart!
Here are some examples of how you could confront:
I hear you saying …
I can’t speak for you, but it seems what you’d like from me is … (Is that right?)
I think your desire for __ is valid. But the way you’re __ feels manipulative.
Are you asking this, or telling me I have to?
That may make you feel angry, but I think we need to be more honest with each other.
I want to meet your needs, but could you ask me straightforwardly for what you want, and respect my answer if I say no? I know neither of us want to feel controlled.
Those expectations aren’t reasonable/aren’t something we’ve agreed on.
2. Stick to your guns. Don’t communicate manipulation doesn’t bother you. Being a doormat does not help your spouse grow in Christlikeness; doing so is not truly loving.
If you think your spouse is right about something, be willing to admit it. (This isn’t a game of marital chicken.) Model security in your relationship apart from performance or perfection. But don’t back down just because you don’t have the courage. You can and should be both truthful and loving (Ephesians 4:15), which requires strength.
3. Don’t be afraid to get help. Remember manipulation can be motivated by deep, destructive patterns. If your spouse does not respond to your loving confrontation, it may be necessary to involve another believer or your pastor (see Matthew 18:15-17). For your own sanity and safety, reach out to a counselor or if necessary, the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233.
The good stuff: Love does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. (1 Corinthians 13:6)
Action points: Pray about how to maintain a compassionate devotion to your spouse’s holiness, and set honesty as the standard in your marriage. Without cynicism, ask God to make you wise as well as innocent (Matthew 10:16). Remember: The truth sets both of you free (John 8:32).
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