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How to Know If Your Husband Has Truly Changed

If you are in an emotionally abusive relationship, Dr. Steven Stosny explains, you have no doubt experienced "honeymoon" periods in the past when, driven by remorse, he seemed to change and everything was fine. The following will help you know that your partner is in the process of permanent change. You will feel that he consistently (every day):
  • Values and appreciates you—you are important to him;
  • Listens to you;
  • Shows compassion—cares how you feel, even when you disagree with him;
  • Respects you as an equal and doesn't try to control you or dismiss your opinions;
  • Shows affection without always expecting sex;
  • Regulates his guilt, shame, anxiety, resentment or anger, without blaming them on you.
Look for Compassion and Support, Not Remorse and Control
Most abusers feel guilt and remorse, at least in the first years of the abuse. Far from encouraging signs, guilt and remorse can actually lead to more abuse, as they:
  • Focus his attention on how bad hefeels;
  • Make him insist that you "get over it" so he can feel better.
In contrast, compassion:
  • Focuses attention on how youfeel;
  • Makes him want to help you feel better.
It is easy to confuse control with support, especially for men (and parents, for that matter) who feel protective. Here are some pointers to help you tell the difference. If he's trying to control you, he:
  • Tells you what to do and punishes you in some way if you don't do it;
  • Implies that you're not competent, smart or resourceful enough to do it on your own;
  • Makes it clear that your perspective isn't important.
If he's trying to support you, he:
  • Helps you find what is best for you to do and stands by you if what you decide doesn't work;
  • Respects your competence, intelligence, creativity and resourcefulness;
  • Values your opinions, even if he disagrees.
FROM: The Follow-Up Show: Fall 2004
Published on November 03, 2004

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