Fighting the Victim Mentality

Image courtesy of mapichai /

Image courtesy of mapichai /

It is challenging when beset by any chronic issue, whether it be health, family stuff that never changes, or, a difficult marriage, to not feel like a victim.

I’ve had all three and fight so often from falling into that “woe is me” type of thinking. As if I am stuck.

But it sure feels that way in the moment.

That’s where I have to remind myself that I have choices.  For now, in my marriage, I chose to stay for a variety of compelling reasons. I would struggle whether I stay or go, but I covered that in another post.

So here’s the deal. I have to remind myself and soak up affirmation from others since I won’t get it from my husband. Affirmation on my personhood, my mothering, my work and ministry I engage in. No one friend can handle and provide all I need. I still need to be willing to listen, care and pray about their struggles and pain. There are also wonderful words of Scripture that I got to for comfort and affirmation too. God delights and loves me even if my husband doesn’t.

I also set boundaries. Sometimes establishing some guidelines for decisions helps when the time comes to use them. They provide a shield to hide behind and minimize some of the situations where I feel helpless.

  • I don’t email my friends every day with the latest in my saga. After awhile if feels like just more of the same. I bore myself with the same ol’ same ol’.   Most of the time God is the only one who needs to hear my struggle. I have a private journal for that. 
  • I have a “don’t ask, don’t tell” boundary because of my husband’s verbal abuse. I kept offering to share my life with him and kept getting abused. So now I don’t share anything personal without being asked. The sad thing is, he never asks. Thankfully I have friends to share my joys and sorrows with as my husband is not interested in hearing about them . 
  • I also determine how much I can do. Do I have to bend to every autocratic demand he makes. No. I don’t, and neither do the kids. See, sometimes his demands are not for “family time” like he says, but for boosting his image in the eyes of others. So there are times I say no, but in a respectful manner. He can go do whatever he wants and we will abstain. 
  • Because he regularly fails to show up when I need him, I’ve learned to live my life without him. I plan for events when it will least inconvenience my children. Like when they are in school. Or hire a sitter if I need to go out. They are getting older now and  need that less. If he’s able to do it, I let him, but I don’t count on him and it saves me a ton of disappointment. 
  • When I was teaching, I used to have a boundary on when I would be a substitute on a  worship team. It could never been on the same weekend because I knew I couldn’t count on my husband for that much and didn’t want to relegate my children to the background of ministry. 
  • Another boundary I have is physical. He alienated me years ago so bedtime isn’t the issue. (It is hard to be aroused when you are told how fat you are, like really?) Being in the same bathroom or kitchen together is a problem. It sets me up for attack if he perceives I am in his way. Sometimes that means the dishes don’t get done or the dishwasher unloaded when I would like, but I prefer the peace, that avoiding being in close proximity to him, provides. 
  • We finally established a more livable routine for Sunday mornings, too. He takes a separate car because he is often late and the kids and I despise that. So we go on by ourselves. Quite often he never shows, but my car is filled with other kids from the neighborhood. I shake off any shame of being abandoned by him knowing he’s the one making himself look bad. Not me.

By taking even the smallest steps to do things that are good and healthy for me, I do better against succumbing to the victim mentality. I’m not saying my thinking never goes there. It does. I had lived there for so long it is a habit that is hard to break. I’m not doing these things to be selfish either. He has made choices to abuse and I have, in response, made choices to protect myself. Some abuses have escalated the more I thrive apart from him, but that’s understandable. I am not reacting the way he wants or expects.

Too bad. So sad.

Do I feel bad that he is losing out on life with me and the kids? Absolutely. But he’s made his choices too and I just got off the crazy train and forged my own, healthier path.

How about you? What boundaries can you set to be emotionally healthier as you stay married?

Blessings, Lilly Grace


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