To an abusers mind, they are not to blame for anything that goes wrong and thus they are not responsible for fixing any problem in their life or relationships. This puts the onus of marital repair on their victim.
This mentality is encouraged by a number of things… most marriage self-help books are written to women. There is a surplus of books on how to be a good wife, how to be the Proverbs 31 wife, how to please your husband, how to manage home, work and children, how to pray for your husband… and very few books for men on how to be a good husband. There are books who tell women that their sole reason for existence is to be a man’s “helpmeet”… That they have no purpose outside of caring for her husband.
Even those few that are targeted towards men are targeted to both genders. The movie “Fireproof” shows an amazing story of a man who decides to save his marriage with deliberate steps and encourages families to put the work into making the changes necessary… until the end when they reveal that the first person to do the task is a woman and show that anyone can put in the effort. The “Love Dare” is a book that should be worked through by the person in the relationship who has caused the most damage… except an abuser will never do what it takes to work through the book honestly and sincerely —- because the abuser will never admit they are at fault for their failing relationship.
These books do not help abusive relationships. They do not address abusive behavior.
I experienced this. I cannot tell you how many books I have on my shelves on “how to be a better wife”. Many of these books tell me to be more submissive, meet his wants, pray for his specific needs, to do what I can to make his life easier. I did the Love Dare (2x).
What happened? He began to expect me to cater to his every whim. He expected me to do everything to take care of him.
Marriage must be 50/5o. Some people will cry that it must be 100/100, others that sometimes one person must give more than the other. The truth is… the marriage itself is 100 — so it must be 50/50. I was right to do all I could to meet my spouses needs and wants. On the other side, my spouse should also be doing all he could to meet my needs and wants. If only one person is consistently caring for the other, the marriage will fail.
You are responsible for the health of your relationship — just as much as your partner is responsible for the health of your relationship.
If you recognize that you are failing in caring emotionally, spiritually or physically for your partner, make changes. Do something different. Pick up a book to hold you accountable, to walk you through steps to be a better partner. Choose to treat your partner with love, caring for what is important to them, supporting them, encouraging them, speak their love language. Communicate to them about your needs, your dreams, your heart. Give yourself to them (safely). Expect them to do the same.
If you recognize that your partner is not caring for you (though not in an abusive way), figure out what you need and have a conversation. Analyze your behaviors and make sure you aren’t contributing to the problem and correct what you can, but have the conversation. Be lovingly honest. If you are uncomfortable or unable to communicate verbally, write them a letter. You cannot fix your partner. You cannot force them to treat you better. What you can do is communicate to them your needs. If they are not willing to listen, to make their own changes … then you have to decide whether to stay or go.
If you fear for your safety talking with them about these matters,
then you are in an abusive relationship and must accept this relationship or leave it.
Make decisions and plans to protect your safety.
If you are both willing to work on the relationship, to improve it, to make it better (and there is always room for improvement), then you will enjoy an improving relationship for years to come. Your relationship will survive. If only one of you is willing to do the work, the relationship is likely to fail.
It’s not all on you. It takes two to have a healthy relationship. An abusive one? Well, it only takes one to destroy a relationship.
What can you do to save your relationship? Everything you can. Is it always possible? No. You must do everything you can while being aware that if the other person refuses to participate, you do not truly have a relationship – married or not.