When you get married, your spouse is the only family member that you get to choose. So, why pick someone who doesn't make you feel safe?
A healthy marriage is one where both husband and wife feel safe in every aspect of their relationship. You should feel confident in each other's love and be able to rely on and support one another. If you don't feel loved, protected and safe, you may need to reevaluate if your marriage truly is a marriage partnership or not.
Unfortunately, there are many people who find themselves in an abusive relationship. Abuse should not be a "normal" part of life for anyone. Abuse can be physical, emotional, verbal and sexual.
These are some areas of safety that are necessary in a healthy marriage:
Feeling emotionally safe is a huge part of a healthy marriage. "Emotional safety means being able to be yourself and feel connected to your partner. When a couple has this, each partner can raise concerns and express vulnerabilities without fear of rejection," states a Family Studies article. Both husband and wife ought to be able to communicate without fear of backlash from their spouse.
This doesn't necessarily mean that your marriage is argument-free. But arguments that escalate to verbal abuse — name calling, belittling, swearing at you or using other words meant to hurt — does not demonstrate emotional safety. If you constantly feel like you don't have a voice or choices in your own life or your marriage, you may be a victim of emotional abuse.
Both husband and wife should be treated as equals; neither spouse should talk down to the other or make the other one feel like less of a person. Marriage is a partnership where each person should be valued and respected.
"There should be no threat of being physically harmed, nor should either partner be physically or emotionally intimidated by the other...[O]ne red flag...is fear—fear of being hurt or controlled by one’s partner, or fear that others will be hurt," according to Family Studies' Scott Stanley.
Using physical force on another person is NEVER okay. You didn't deserve it, no matter what an abusive partner may tell you. You should not live in fear of physical punishment to you or another person in your family because the house is a mess, dinner is under or overcooked, you didn't read your partner's mind or for any other alleged "reason." Hitting, slapping, shoving, kicking, biting or gripping another person hard is abuse. And an "apology" that includes anything like, "...but you shouldn't upset me like that" or any other mention of it being your fault is not an apology at all, but rather an excuse to abuse you the next time you "mess up."
The only touch that you should experience is the kind of touch coupled with love. Hugs, kisses, snuggling, hand-holding or other gentle and kind affection that brings feelings of love, safety and protection.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation, there is help available. Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-799-7233. Get help. Don't stay in a situation that violates your physical safety.
A big part of marriage is sex. However, that does not mean that you have to have sex against your will just because you are married. Sadly, some marriages have included instances of rape and sexual abuse.
Sex is meant for bonding and an expression of love between spouses. You need to feel safety in your marriage before, during and after sex. A lot of that safety comes from having emotional as well as physical safety. Both partners need to be comfortable with what happens in the bedroom, but that safety is threatened when ANY abuse is present.
Another threat to sexual safety is pornography usage and infidelity. Pornography can rob a marriage of real love and lead to infidelity to increase the "thrill" levels of sexual encounters. Some may argue that pornography enhances their bedroom experiences, but it can actually end up damaging your marriage. Things that were once a "turn on" may not be due to the increasing need of more and different, often more hard-core, pornography. It can also lead to sexual dysfunction, which can adversely affect your sex life.
Partners may also begin to feel undesirable to their spouse because of pornography. Sexual safety is threatened when pornography becomes a necessity; this threat extends to affairs as well. If your spouse is seeking extra-marital sex, this compromises your emotional safety. Not only that, but affairs increase your risk of divorce. You may not be able to fully trust your spouse again, which can adversely affect your desire to have sex with an unfaithful partner.
Healthy marriages are built on safety. Emotional, physical and sexual safety must be present. Without this safe environment, couples cannot grow together and strengthen their relationship. One partner should not be in a dominate position over the other and should not be working to control the other person through abuse. Marriage is a partnership with two equals who treat each other with love, respect and with kindness.