But a little clarity could go a long way here. So let’s shed some light on what’s really going on:
1. Information is distorted or outright withheld but he swears you were told everything. You “must have forgotten.” You misunderstood. That didn’t happen. Soon you’re doubting your version of reality.
2. He says something hurtful. Something he knows will make you feel insecure. When you object he accuses you of overreacting or being too sensitive. He “didn’t mean it” or you “misunderstood.” Ultimately, you’re the one who is apologizing!
3. Minimizing is an almost daily occurrence. “It’s not that big a deal.”
4. Excuses are another major pastime for the gaslighter. His actions are always someone else’s fault. (Usually yours.)
5. Deflecting your concerns or feelings or confrontations as crazy, ridiculous, unimportant, or ungodly. You’re bad, he’s good. You’re wrong, he’s right.
So, how do you deal with gaslighting?
1. When you’re having a conversation, record it or write down what’s being said. You can simply say, “I’m tired of being told I don’t remember what you said.” This puts him on notice that his tactic of purposely leaving out information and accusing you of forgetfulness will not work anymore.
2. When he says something cruel, write down his exact words. This way he cannot edit his words to be a watered-down version of the truth.
3. When he minimizes by saying something isn’t a big deal it’s okay to tell him you disagree. You can calmly say, “I do think it’s a big deal and I’m going to discuss it with our pastor.” This sends a message that his words and actions will no longer be a secret and you are no longer going to defend yourself to him.
4. Stick with the facts and stick with his actions. When he tries to blame you or someone else, simply says, “No. There are plenty of people who have been in a similar situation and made different decisions. You are responsible for your own choices.” Then stop. Don’t ask for an apology. Don’t ask him to acknowledge the truth. Just stop. You’ve made it clear you will not be manipulated.
Healthy people work on their shortcomings. They acknowledge their sinful nature and work to change. You can’t do that for your husband but, with God’s help, you can work on yourself so that he no longer has the power to rob you of your reality, your confidence, and your self-respect.