‘Tis the season for increased abuse, ladies and gentlemen. Hold onto your stockings, it could be a wild ride! Many of you could have experienced the beginnings of your holiday “bliss” this past week during the celebration of Thanksgiving, leaving you to wonder exactly what there is to be thankful for when your significant other can’t seem to enjoy a holiday, no matter what amount of thought you put into making it enjoyable for them.
How many of you cancelled plans at the last minute because your spouse regressed to behaving like a giant overbearing three-year-old? How many of your dinners were ruined because someone failed to get the sweet potato recipe right? Who felt scared and small, worried that your spouse would attack you in front of your family and friends? Trust me, you were not alone. I do not know exactly why abuse tends to increase around the holidays. I’ve heard numerous reasons, like:
- She’s jealous that I want to see my mother.
- He can’t stand large groups of people.
- She tries so hard to be perfect, but when things don’t go her way, she blames me.
- He drinks during holidays.
- We’re having financial trouble and the stress gets to her.
- His family always fought during the holidays, and he transfers that behavior to me and our children.
- She is jealous because my sister lays out a better table than she does.
- He despises Santa Claus! Or, she is jealous that the kids think Santa brings great gifts and she doesn’t get credit for pleasing them.
- He hates my family.
What’s the excuse this year?
What excuse will you give your partner this year when they act out and abuse you and those around you? What will you whisper to your family behind your spouse’s back to excuse their nastiness, standoffish-ness, glares, or “jokes”? Is it the same excuse you gave last year?
There is no excuse for abusing the people we love for any reason. If a “normal” person lashes out at a loved one, chances are they apologize as soon as possible because they recognize the behavior as wrong. By that definition, is your spouse normal? Also consider how their behavior continued after the apology: Were they quick to change their attitude or did they do something else that hurt minutes after the apology?
Consider also how your spouse spoke of the event to you when you were alone. Was it your fault that she had to apologize? Was it your fault he acted the way he did? Or did your spouse say something like, “I acted like such a jerk. I am so embarrassed!” and show concern for the target’s feelings? For yours?
Sometimes excuses are not good reasons and apologies are not sincere. Look to your history to determine your partner’s pattern of behavior. If the holidays you’ve been together include more uncomfortable memories than pleasant ones, you may want to skip giving your partner an excuse to misbehave this year.
So how can I get through this season if there is no excuse for their behavior?
If your spouse acted up over Thanksgiving, chances are there will be a bit of a respite from their abuse in the following days (or weeks, if you’re lucky) during the honeymoon period’s peace and tranquility. In the past, perhaps you’ve taken advantage of the peace by giving your overworked brain a rest. Dealing with in-your-face abuse induces severe mental, emotional and physical (dis)stress. At least during the honeymoon period, you can rest and recuperate a bit, maybe even pretend you’ve seen the last of your spouse’s nasty behavior. Whew! What a relief! It is nice to pretend sometimes…
But the honeymoon period is a part of the cycle of abuse unless you use it differently this time. It is true that your body, mind and heart scream out for a break during the honeymoon, and their incessant demands to invoke your denial are strong. Nevertheless, I challenge you to change the way you use your honeymoon.
Let Your Spouse Honeymoon; You Take a Vacation from Abuse
While your spouse makes loving gestures and woos you back into the fold, you must refuse to accept their false gift of peace. However, do not call them on it, do not point out that they’re perpetrating the cycle of abuse. Smile and accept whatever kindnesses they offer as if you’re snowed the way they want you to be.
Inside, keep your distance. Marvel over how often he’s bought you jewelry after being an ass. Go count the pieces in your jewelry box to estimate how many times you’ve been through this before. Gush over the special treats she prepares for you, and eat them with joy! But when you get up from the table, recount in your mind the number of times she’s tricked you into believing she loved you only to snatch your heart out of your chest and wrap your aortas tight around your neck, laughing.
Ladies and gentlemen, the only way to find peace is to put an end to the lies slinking beneath the honeymoon period’s joy. This is the holiday time of the year. You do not have to disrupt the outward-appearing joy of the holidays to get a better grip on the slippery neck of the Abuse Demon. For the next few days or weeks of your honeymoon, pretend everything is “just fine”. Inside, pray for clarity, insight, and truth. Only after you clearly see the demons in your relationship can you hope to exorcise them.
You can also find Kellie on Google+, Facebook and Twitter. Visit her website at Verbal Abuse Journals: Verbal Abuse is Domestic Abuse that Leads to Domestic Violence or purchase her books from Amazon.
*I must use pronouns such as “she” and “he” to talk about the abusers and victims of abuse in relationships. Both women and men could be abusers or victims, so please do not take my pronoun choice as an implication that one gender abuses and the other is victimized. They’re pronouns, not proclamations.