Hi, this is Zita Fekete with “Ask an Expert!” Answering your love and relationship questions.
Question: “I feel like my husband is a dirty fighter. He calls me names, he’s manipulative, he gives me the silent treatment. How can I get him to stop acting like this and fight with me in a fair way?”
Answer: “Excellent question! You are not the only one who is husband is a dirty fighter dealing with a dirty fighter at home. Name calling, silent treatment, belongs to the toolbox of emotional manipulation. When he calls you name, you feel inferior. When he gives you the silent treatment you might fear from abandonment or rejection. When you feel terrible enough, he gives hints, tells you or shows you how you should behave in order to avoid these painful feelings.
How you can handle this tricky situation can viewed in three points.
First of all: you need to separate the imposed feeling from the goal of the manipulation.
(Second) You need to see that the invoked feeling is not the reality what we are talking about.
Third: You need to resist at the core of the manipulation.
What’s the core? – This is your job to figure it out! What your husband wants you to do imposing these feelings? Is it more house work? Is it more serving his needs? Is it more keep your mouth shut about your needs? You have to figure this out.
You have to resist at the core! And why? Because manipulation is a self reinforcing process. The more you comply, the more he feels this pressurizing tactic works, so it reinforces the manipulation.
If you want to break the cycle, you need to stop complying with it.