Choosing Your Battles: Speak Up or Bite Your Tongue?

I’m a talker, but have learned that with a verbally abusive spouse, sometimes silence is the best response to things. If I share even innocuous things, they could be used to belittle me later.

Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

Image courtesy of Suat Eman /

For instance. A few months back my kids wanted me to make macaroni and cheese. Yes, Kraft. Right out of the box. I’ve made it more times than I can number. For some odd reason, my noodles came out so mushy it was disgusting. So I tried again. I timed it and everything! Same issue. The kids and I laughed at my inability that night to boil noodles and we had pizza instead.  Remember that in 12 years time of making boxed mac, I’ve only had that one night of failure.

My husband often makes the mac ‘n cheese though and the other night he was doing so at a child’s request and I jokingly called him “Mac Daddy: King of the Macaroni and Cheese.”

His response: “That’s because I follow the directions and you don’t.”

Say what? I walked away shaking my head. What an idiotic comment though. This man has benefited for over twenty years with my ability to follow a recipe and create tasty meals that he devours. Leftovers? Rarely happens because of him. I know I can follow a recipe and what happened that night with the noodles? I have no idea. I”ve never had an issue at any other time. One night of a silly failure does not make me a bad cook.

One comment though does make him a thoughtless husband and is evidence of the subtle at times verbal abuse I struggle with.

There are times I have confronted though. I just have to pick my battles and know when to walk away. If’ I’m going to walk away, doing so before the battle begins is a better option than in the midst of it. In other words, I won’t pick a fight if I can help it. How can I do that?

Well, my husband thinks he is superior in anything he does. Let’s go back to the kitchen. From washing dishes to loading the dishwasher to filling ice-cube trays, my husband believes and has stated that he knows best how to do those things and I of course, am a failure at them.What is interesting, however, is how often I have to do them when I am, by his account, so inept. I really would not be offended if he chose to wash dishes and load and unload the dishwasher every day.

But it’s not worth pursuing because he only does it to try to get a rise out of me. So I don’t give him the opportunity. When he is in the kitchen, if I can at all do it, I leave. If the kids want something, they need to ask him. I will not go in and put myself in his path physically or verbally. My kitchen just isn’t big enough for the two of us.

But speaking up can also be good. My husband doesn’t hear me when I speak though. He can only hear his own wonderful thoughts and ideas. So when it is really important – I send him an email. Does that sound cowardly? It is honestly terrifying for me because I have had some come back with abuse as well. The up side to that is I have documented proof of the reality of my marriage. It has helped to give my support system a view of that so they can see the lies and twisting of truth that comes through in those messages.

A woman I talked to the other day has been keeping things very quiet about an issue with her upcoming divorce. She said if anyone finds out, her husband blames her for it. I told her that since he initiated the divorce and abandoned his family, by keeping it a secret from the world, she is enabling him to avoid the consequences of his sin. Will she speak up and be honest about it? I don’t know. There will be a negative consequence if she does, but keeping a secret is tearing her up inside too and allows him to skip along his merry way. The long shot is he would repent. But without consequences, will he? My only prayer is that someone not only prays for this man – but that someone (preferably a man) will confront him as well.

Every situation requires prayer and I believe at times when I have confronted verbally, it has been at the urging of the Holy Spirit and when that has happened, fear did not figure into it. It’s hard to pray and be ready when the time is right. It is hard to bite my tongue too when I long to hurl nasty words back at the insults tossed my way. God helps me with both of those.

Speak now or forever hold your peace. I don’t remember if those words were in our wedding ceremony or not, but sometimes they are a good rule to live by.


Lilly Grace



1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Michelle
    Dec 21, 2014 @ 06:47:37

    Thank you for writing this, Lilly Grace. In reading, I felt that it was me writing and I cannot thank you enough for doing so. Knowing that there are others who can relate is so comforting. I actually googled “how to keep your Grace and dignity even with verbal abuse” and your site came up. It is comforting to know that there are other women looking to God to help them cope and to – as my goal is- help inspire my husband to change simply through the way I handle myself in these situations. I often have to bite my tongue. Some people may think that is a sign of weakness but as you know, it takes more strength than one could imagine. From the kitchen scenario, to thinking he is the only one who knows how to do things right- ie: load the dishwasher and make Mac n’ cheese, I can totally relate to your situation. My husband and I are Catholic and we attend church every Sunday. He has a strong faith but sometimes I think he is missing something- perhaps letting the love of Christ in. I want God to rule in my marriage and my hope is that wth years of good decisions and faithfulness in Him to guide my husband, that we will share a happier marriage and my husband will grow in His Love. Currently, we are expecting our second daughter around January 22nd. Our first, Grace, is 2 and 1/2 and our second we were thinking to name Lily. Even more ironic is that your post was written on May 1st, which is a birthday that me and my daughter Grace share :). Interesting. Thank you for sharing. I will continue to read your blog. God Bless you.


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