What You Need to Know About Spousal Gaslighting
Are you constantly apologising to your spouse even when you haven't made a mistake? Are you beginning to question your sanity because your spouse thinks you are crazy?
These are some signs that your spouse is gaslighting you.
What is gaslighting?
Gaslighting is a form of emotional abuse where one person manipulates another by psychologically distorting their reality, causing them to question their sanity.
"Gaslighting" comes from a 1938 play called Gas Light, where a man tries to drive his wife insane by dimming the lights in their home and pretending nothing is wrong."
It often starts when one person wants to gain power over another. So they begin by denying and minimising the other's feelings, thoughts, or perceptions. The gaslighter then uses this denial to convince the victim that they are crazy or unstable.
Gaslighting can be intentional or unintentional but always intended in some way. It is typically done by someone who has more power than the victim and wants to maintain that power difference.
How to spot gaslighting
It starts with small things, like making you question your memory or your sanity. Just like a narcissist, the gaslighter may tell you that you are too sensitive, imagining things or blowing things out of proportion.
"They might call you names or make jokes at your expense in front of others."
Some signs your spouse might be gaslighting are:
- Your spouse makes fun of everything that upsets you
- Your spouse makes you think that you're too sensitive or too needy
- You find yourself doubting yourself a lot, even when it comes down to little things
- Your spouse is making all the decisions for you
- The abuser insists that you cannot remember events or tells you that your memories are not correct.
- The abuser uses confusing language to describe events and denies having said something despite evidence to the contrary.
- The abuser insists on knowing what happened in conversations with other people but refuses to confirm conversations with you.
- The abuser tells you they know what's best for you and accuses you of being selfish or not caring about their feelings.
- The abuser becomes aggressive and controlling during arguments.
Read More: What to Expect When Divorcing a Narcissist
How should you respond to gaslighting?
If you think your spouse is gaslighting you, it is crucial to respond in a way that will protect your mental health and well-being.
Here are some tips on how to respond if you think your spouse is gaslighting you:
Spot the signs: It is crucial to identify the signs of gaslighting. The signs include feeling like you're going crazy, being manipulated, harassed, and thinking your spouse is always right and you are always wrong.
Keep a record: Documenting the behaviour will allow you to see patterns and preserve them as evidence in case you file for divorce down the track. Some ways to document the behaviour are to record conversations and keep a detailed journal where possible.
Talk with the abuser: If you think your spouse is gaslighting you, it is important to confront them. It will be a difficult conversation, but it is important to be assertive and clear about your feelings.
Seek support: Seek support from family and friends. But tell someone. If necessary, seek professional help. This is bullying! It is not your fault.
Put in place a safety plan: Identify safe people that you can talk to about what's going on. You also need to identify safe places you can go if you need to escape the situation when it arises.
Seek legal help
While gaslighting can be a complex issue in marriage, it is important to remember that you are not alone. If you think you may be a victim of gaslighting, reach out to our experienced Singapore divorce lawyers. Our experience and resources can help you determine the best course of action for your situation.