Common signs of verbal abuse in marriage may be non-verbal, as a spouse under constant berating tends to become introverted. Too much quietness and a lack of personal expression may also be telltale signs that a husband or wife is being mistreated. While physical abuse leaves marks and bruises on the body, constant harassment through harsh words deliberately spoken to cause hurt can be mentally and emotionally debilitating. Spouses who habitually use profanity, spew out derogatory or demeaning names, or address a husband or wife in disrespectful terms can cause just as much harm as a loaded gun in the hand of a terrorist. There is never a justifiable reason to curse a loved one. A woman, especially a wife, should never be described as a female dog; neither should a man suffer similar disgraces. Husbands and wives should realize that holy wedlock creates a single entity; and denigrating a mate is equivalent to denigrating one's self. Sadly, some spouses may endure decades of belittlement and exhibit overt and covert signs of verbal abuse in marriage.
The Bible speaks against using the tongue, the smallest member of the physical body, to curse others: "Behold also the ships, which though they be so great, and are driven of fierce winds, yet are they turned about with a very small helm, whithersoever the governor listeth. Even so the tongue is a little member, and boasteth great things. Behold, how great a matter a little fire kindleth! And the tongue is a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell. For every kind of beasts, and of birds, and of serpents, and of things in the sea, is tamed, and hath been tamed of mankind: But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison. Therewith bless we God, even the Father; and therewith curse we men, which are made after the similitude of God. Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be" (James 3:4-10).
Signs of verbal abuse in marriage can also cause otherwise outgoing individuals to become isolated from family and friends. Victimized mates can become so introverted that they may suffer from debilitating mental illnesses, such as depression, suicidal thoughts, low self-esteem, or in rare cases, agoraphobia--a fear of the marketplace. Continual berating from a husband or wife can shatter one's self image and cause women or men to actually believe the derogatory remarks made by an uncaring spouse. Taunting epithets like, "You're stupid!" or "You're so fat and ugly!" soon enter into an individual's spirit; and begin to change a person's psyche and personality. Years of being told that you are fat and ugly result in husbands and wives who gradually become fat and ugly because of self-loathing. Day by day signs of verbal abuse in marriage soon become a victim's reality, until they are transformed into exactly what a cruel mate has accused them of becoming.
The objective of an abusive spouse is to control the weaker mate through constant intimidation, manipulation and domination. The aggressor takes pleasure out of playing a cat and mouse game with someone they should love. Words are used as weapons of mass destruction--pitted against an unwary husband or wife and doing major damage to the vital organs of heart, mind and soul. Overt signs of verbal abuse in marriage not only include an introverted personality and a gradual lack of personal expression, but also an unkempt or disheveled appearance. As hateful and hurtful words take affect, the victim ceases to care about how they look as the self-perception becomes a reflection of an angry partner's verbal onslaught. A person who living under constant criticism may also display changed physical features. Heads once held high become turned downward; smiles are replaced with frowns, and a gleam in the eye with dread. Covert, or hidden, signs of verbal abuse in marriage are less visible, but just as volatile. A husband or wife with low self-esteem due to non-stop lambasting may suffer such deep wounding of soul and spirit that they may eventually lose all hope. Those who give up may attempt suicide or choose infidelity as a means of escaping the pain of rejection and denigration.
Spouses who exhibit signs of verbal abuse in marriage and their partners may need professional or spiritual counseling to break free from a hurtful co-dependent relationship. An abuser needs behavior modification therapy to first determine why the need to belittle a loved one exists. The desire to inflict pain on another individual may very well be a result of receiving verbal abuse as a child or young adult, or being brought up in an abusive household. Psychologists or spiritual leaders can help a spouse with a filthy mouth get to the root cause of unacceptable behavior and begin to resolve personal issues. Uncovering the real reason behind objectionable language aimed at wounding a loved one will go a long way in alleviating unnecessary pain and suffering.
Once a verbally abusive spouse can address issues of personal inadequacies, a therapist or minister can help couples learn to love and accept one another. Learning how to criticize constructively without berating a loved one is also essential for signs of verbal abuse in marriage to be eradicated. Instead of constantly finding fault, couples should pray for God to remove the scales of cynicism from their eyes so that a loved one's qualities outshine their shortcomings. Fostering an attitude of thanksgiving to God and gratefulness for their husband or wife will help heal old wounds and mend hearts broken through careless words. Over time, abusive husbands and wives can begin to value and not victimize their spouses, fully understanding that to inflict emotional harm or mental anguish on a mate is tantamount to inflicting emotional and mental anguish on one's self.