A healthy marriage is built on a foundation of trust and mutual respect. If you truly love your partner and care for their well-being, you will be honest and open about the state of your marriage, even when there are challenges.
Unfortunately, not all marriages live up to this standard. Some spouses are intentionally deceitful to their partners in order to gain an advantage over them. According to Healthline, these behaviors often fall under the classification of gaslighting, which is an emotionally abusive behavior that can have a drastic toll on your mental health and well-being.
Gaslighting goes beyond merely lying, which can also decimate a marriage by breaking down trust. Gaslighting is a persistent set of behaviors intended to make you call your understanding of reality into question. The gaslighter will make statements, then later deny ever having done so. They will make up lies involving other people in your life, and claim those people are speaking ill of you (even when they are not). When you express dismay or frustration about the way you are being treated, they will accuse of you overreacting or being too sensitive. The goal of these actions is to diminish your sanity and credibility.
Recognizing common signs
You may find yourself constantly apologizing to your spouse, even when you have done nothing wrong. You may also find it making decisions about your life challenging, even if you never experienced problems making decisions in the past. Victims of gaslighting also experience increasing anxiety, as well as a persistent sense of guilt, as though you are solely responsible for all wrongdoing in your marriage.
Identifying narcissism in your spouse
Not all gaslighters are narcissists, but people prone to narcissistic ways of thinking are more likely to engage in such behaviors. Narcissists believe they are more important than they actually are. When criticized, they usually respond angrily, even when criticisms are justified. Despite their sensitivity to personal criticism, they think nothing of criticizing others. They are also prone to jealousy, which is often disruptive in romantic relationships.