Gaslighting is a manipulative behavior that is akin to emotional abuse when it takes place within a marriage. It involves lying and other behaviors that call into question a spouse’s sense of reality, which can be very disorienting. Identifying emotional abuse is difficult for many people, especially when they’re in the midst of a troubled relationship. Psychology Today explains the effects of gaslighting and how you can identify it in your marriage.
Marriages must be built on love and mutual respect. That’s what makes gaslighting and other forms of emotional abuse so damaging. Many people find it hard to believe that the person they love and cherish could behave in an abusive manner, which is why it’s so hard to pinpoint when abuse is happening to you. It can also damage your self-esteem over time. If your spouse constantly criticizes you or puts you down, you’re likely to internalize these statements.
Worst of all, gaslighting makes a person call into question their version of reality. Emotionally abusive spouses lie to gain a foothold over their partners, and these lies can be blatant denials of what is objectively true. As a result, the person being lied to may slowly lose their grip on reality, until their confidence is completely diminished. This makes it all but impossible to seek out resolutions like divorce, especially when abuse has been ongoing for some time.
Along with blatant lies, gaslighters also rely on manipulation. They’ll play on their spouse’s love by acting hurt or indignant by their actions, even when this behavior isn’t warranted. Gaslighters will also explain away their behaviors by placing blame on spouses. For instance, if a person is prone to anger, he or she might claim that their spouse is the reason for their ill-will. Even after a relationship ends, many people experiencing lingering effects, including a lack of confidence.