3 Major Signs of Gaslighting In Marriage: Is Your Spouse Playing Mind Games With You?
Signs of Gaslighting- By Licensed Psychologist (MA, PhD)
Tara was accused of being ‘crazy’ and ‘hysterical’, and she almost believed it. That is what gaslighting can do to you. The manipulative tactics can distort your perception of reality, and make you believe in a false narrative.
Imagine this. It is your birthday, and your senior manager gives you flowers as a kind gesture. Your partner finds out about it and insists that your manager’s gesture is actually a subtle sign that he is in love with you.
You assure your partner that you share a strictly professional relationship with him. Yet, he continues to convince you that your manager secretly loves you. This eventually leads to strained relationships with your manager and feelings of guilt.
This is one the classic signs of gaslighting. It is often used by narcissists as a way of isolating you from others so that your dependency increases on them. Gaslighting is a psychological form of manipulation that can cause serious harm to the victim’s mental, physical, and emotional well-being.
This article talks about 3 Major Signs of Gaslighting in Marriage. Being aware of these signs of gaslighting can help you take timely action and save yourself from the irreparable damage of abuse and manipulation.
Note: Please remember that you are not alone. If you are experiencing any form of abuse in your marriage or relationship then talk to a trusted friend or family member. You can also reach out to a mental health professional and receive the support you need.
What Exactly Is Gaslighting?
The word ‘Gaslighting’ became the most popular phrase of 2022. So, does that mean it is a relatively new concept? A problem created by Gen Z?
The term ‘Gaslighting’ was first used in a mystery thriller play written by Patrick Hamilton back in 1938. It is a rather interesting plotline where the husband tricks his wife into believing that she is going insane. He does this by flickering the gaslights, and when his wife points out to them, he confidently denies that they are flickering at all. His constant manipulation makes his wife doubt her own judgment and reality.
Gaslighting in a marriage is a form of emotional abuse where a person blatantly invalidates their partner’s emotions, and opinions, and makes them question their reality.
For instance, your spouse openly flirts with your cousin. When you confront him about his behavior, he outright denies it and goes on to blame you for being jealous and insecure.
When such patterns of behavior continue, it can slowly damage a person’s ability to think and feel clearly. In the above example, the victim may justify the abuser’s behavior by blaming themselves for overthinking too much. Therefore, it is crucial to spot the signs of gaslighting and take help on time.
Why Would Your Partner Gaslight You?
Gaslighting is generally used by narcissists to gain control over their partners. The central motivation of most gaslighters is to have power over their spouse.
It could also be a way of escaping the consequences of their actions. For instance, a wife cheats on her husband and starts acting aloof. When the husband confronts her about her changed behavior, she tells him that he is thinking too much. The husband will start believing that he is being irrational and simply imagining this.
That said, gaslighting may not always be intentional. Someone with unhealthy family dynamics or traumatic childhood experiences can develop a manipulative personality to protect themselves.
Yet, no matter the cause of gaslighting, it should never be justified. If you have been a victim of gaslighting then there are high chances that you suffer from low self-esteem, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Don’t worry, with regular therapy you can overcome the challenges and feel like yourself again.
Signs of Gaslighting
How to know whether your partner is playing mind games with you? Expert Psychologist at Holistic Living has dealt with many cases of gaslighting in her long and successful career.
She explains 3 major signs of gaslighting in a marriage. These include:
Denial of experiences
One significant sign of gaslighting in a marriage is when one partner consistently denies the other partner’s experiences, emotions, or memories. They may dismiss or downplay their partner’s feelings, making them feel like their emotions are unwarranted or exaggerated.
Here are some real-life examples of how this sign of gaslighting can look in a marriage or relationship.
Sarah tells her husband Mark that she feels hurt and neglected because he has been spending less time with her lately. Mark responds by saying, “You’re just being too sensitive. I’ve always been here for you. You must be exaggerating things.
Mohan and Naina are having an argument. Naina starts yelling at him. He politely tells her that he does not like when she yells at him. Naina is triggered by his sentence and raises her voice even more. Naina tells Mohan that she is not yelling at him, and that he is just being sensitive.
Manipulation of reality
Gaslighters often manipulate or distort reality to confuse and control their partner. They may present false information, twist facts, or conveniently change their own narrative.
“He used to get physically close with his female friends. I would often tell him that it makes me feel uncomfortable when he does that. He would never acknowledge my feelings. Instead, he used to completely deny doing that even when I would point out obvious instances” says Kiara, who suffered from gaslighting for 7 years.
Blaming and shifting responsibility
Gaslighters frequently shift blame onto their partners, making them feel responsible for the problems in the relationship or their own unhappiness. They may also use guilt or shame to maintain control.
Let’s see an example of this typical signs of gaslighting behavior:
Alex tells his wife Emily that she is to blame for their financial difficulties because she spends too much money. Emily tries to discuss their joint spending decisions, but Alex responds with, “If you were more responsible with money, we wouldn’t be in this mess. It’s your fault our family is suffering.”
Dhruv cheated multiple times on his wife. When his wife found out about his extramarital affairs, he conveniently put on the blame on her. He accused her of having no time for her and making the marriage boring for him.
The signs of gaslighting in a marriage may be subtle, but its impact can hit you hard.
Delaying immediate action can keep you trapped in the cycle of abuse. Sadly, many individuals remain in life-long abusive marriages because they don’t receive the right support and care.
But you are not one of them. If you are experiencing any of these signs of gaslighting then talk to a certified therapist today. In therapy, you will get a safe space to finally open up about your feelings, thoughts, and concerns without feeling judged.
It gives you a healthy environment to clear your mind and receive a fresh perspective on what is happening to you. Once you have gained clarity on your issues, you can work with your therapist to develop self-confidence and choose what is right for you.
Connect with our trusted psychologists today. Don’t hesitate- we are here for you. Just pick up the phone and talk to us. Nobody deserves an unhappy and toxic marriage.