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Gaslighting: How To Recognize Your Spouse’s Manipulative Behavior

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Manipulative behavior can create problems in a marriage. A spouse may intentionally create situations they can control to gain power over their spouse. Sometimes, spouses manipulate situations they did not create to their advantage. 

Unfortunately, it can be challenging to recognize when your spouse is manipulating you. The manipulation may be subtle and could take the form of gaslighting. 

Learning to spot gaslighting can help you avoid being the victim of your spouse’s manipulative behavior. Recognizing manipulative behavior by a spouse can also help you know when to seek legal advice about a divorce in Orlando, FL.

What Is Gaslighting?

The term gaslighting was taken from a 1938 play entitled Gas Light. Gaslighting involves making someone believe something that is not true. In the movie, the husband manipulates the wife into believing she is losing touch with reality.

A woman’s husband repeatedly turned down the gas lights in their home, denying that he had done so. He denied noticing the changes in the light levels in the home. The wife begins to think she could be losing her mind.

Over time, the term gaslighting became a popular way to describe manipulative behavior that caused someone to question their perception of reality. A spouse may use gaslighting to make their partner believe they are at fault for the spouse’s bad behavior. They may manipulate their spouse into thinking everything is their fault, they are worthless, and they cannot function without the spouse. 

Signs Your Spouse Might Be Gaslighting You

Spouses who use manipulative behavior, such as gaslighting, are often narcissists. Therefore, if your spouse displays signs of a narcissistic personality, it could be a signal that they may try gaslighting to control you. 

A narcissistic spouse is vain and self-absorbed. They have unreasonable expectations, have excessive feelings of self-importance, and are preoccupied with power, success, ideal love, intelligence, and beauty. A narcissist has unreasonable expectations of favorable treatment and reacts to criticism with humiliation, shame, or rage. 

Signs that your spouse may be using manipulative behavior to gaslight you include:

  • Makes you believe that family and friends do not care about you or hate you, which is a way to isolate you and make you more dependent on them
  • Threatens to harm themselves if you end the relationship
  • Twists the circumstances of situations so that you are always in the wrong and they are always right 
  • Undermines your goals and accomplishments by belittling what you achieve to make their accomplishments grander
  • Shames you and makes you feel unworthy of their affection 
  • Uses your insecurities against you to control your behavior 
  • Gives you backhanded compliments intended to make you feel bad instead of good (i.e., “This meal doesn’t taste as bad as most of the meals you make.”)
  • They don’t want you to use social media or be online, so they can control what you hear and see
  • Keeps a close eye on everything you do by requiring you to check in with them repeatedly throughout the day

Gaslighting is used to turn the tables and cover up a spouse’s behavior. For example, your spouse may tell you that you enjoy other people looking at you, and that you do things to attract attention. However, it is your spouse that engages in this behavior. 

It does not matter whether you have proof that your spouse’s allegations are false. Your spouse creates an alternative scenario to explain the situation. Eventually, you begin to doubt yourself and believe you are at fault in the situation. 

Divorcing a Manipulative Spouse in Orlando, FL

It can be difficult for the victim of gaslighting to seek a divorce. They may feel they are the ones at fault, so they just need to do better. They might believe they cannot care for themselves and need their spouse.

If you believe your spouse could be gaslighting you, you may want to seek help from a therapist or counselor. A professional can help you recognize gaslighting behaviors and break the cycle that your spouse has caused.

You can also seek legal advice from an experienced Orlando divorce lawyer.

Contact the Orlando Family and Divorce Law Firm of Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC for Help Today

For more information, contact our experienced Orlando divorce lawyers at Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC by calling (407) 831-0203 to schedule a free consultation.

Conti Moore Law Divorce Lawyers, PLLC
815 N Magnolia Ave Suite 100
Orlando, FL 32803
United States


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