17 Steps for Coping with an Abusive (or Cheating) Spouse

Coping with an Abusive Spouse
How much do you tolerate with an abusive spouse? What have you put up with?

In this blog I list 17 steps for coping with a spouse that exhibits addictive behaviors. Frequently, addictive behaviors increasingly over time lead to abuse thrown in your direction.

17 Steps for Coping with an Abusive (or Cheating) Spouse

1. Put an end to your “enabling” behavior using the following guidelines:

-No more making excuses for his/her behavior.

-No more protecting him/her from consequences of his/her behavior.

-No more scolding or criticizing.

-No more begging to stop.

-No more helping him/her recover from the consequences.

-No more avoiding or “pretending not to notice” his/her destructive behavior.

-No more quick “I forgive yous.”

-No more temper tantrums to get him/her to stop.

2. List the top 5 standards that guide your behavior in terms of your marriage or relationship.

3. Live with the realization that his/her destructive behavior may get worse – and there is nothing YOU can do about it.

4. Dedicate to learning as much as you can about addictive behaviors.

5. Get support.

Check out SA, AA or other local groups. Find a fit for you.
Do a google search for online forums or chat rooms for addictive behaviors.

6. Discover your 5 top personal needs and get them met appropriately outside the context of your addicted partner.

7. Read about Affair #2: “I Can’t Say No” or Affair #5: “I Want to Get Back at Him/Her” (the rage affair) in Break Free From the Affair.

8. Experiment with saying NO! (set productive boundaries). Avoid situations or conversations that result in pain for you.

Learn how to make statements:

“I will not accept that behavior.”

“I will not tolerate that behavior.”

“I will no longer respond to that behavior.”

9. Have an exit plan for when s/he badly deteriorates.

10. Share your exit plan with at least one other supportive person.

11. Develop exit plan B and share.

12. Embark upon a program of personal health and well being – physically, emotionally, financially and spiritually.

13. Set a timeline for your personal growth and anticipated markers along the way.

14. Get a coach or therapist to accelerate the progress and keep you on track.

15. Expect that the combination of need meeting, boundary setting and personal growth will get his/her attention in either a largely negative or positive fashion.

16. Develop a game plan for increased destructive behavior.

17. Develop a game plan for the “I don’t want to lose you” comment from him/her.

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Leave A Reply (3 comments So Far)


  1. ray
    1 year ago

    Divorce, Divorce, Divorce, it’s all they understand.


  2. Patricia Arhur
    1 year ago

    Dear Dr. Huizenga:

    Have you heard it all? Probably, but I’m going to relate some things that might not have made any impressions.
    It’s been 23 year with him. He was a Detective In the county Police Department. This was a special detail that he gloried in the obsessesness of the job. He was told whatever Forensic machines he could have, all he had to do was ask. Now comes the thief, liar, key logger, recorders,telephone taps, Gps, and whatever else you could think of. Yes, he was paid to SPY on any apps signaling for a spot on the prestigious Police Department. Not only that, his parents, siblings, friends, were all in his spotlight. For several years this was very active, and reports were typed. up, and personally given to the Chief by ……..one person.
    In 2011, we moved into an ocean community of condos, and because he worked so “hard”, he couldn’t help me unload the trucks assigned to hauling in our furniture. Even though I had been diagnosed with MS, I was expected to get the condo in shape by myself. After 3 days of trying to make this place look decent, he arrived home late one night. I awoke enough to ask why he was so late, and his reply was just kibitzing with the boys. Even though it was close to 8 years that he never touched me, I tried to make things in the condo look good. We could have lived in a pig pen for all he cared, but the excuse of jawing with the guys at work gave me an unusual feeling, but nothing like the lies and excuses I was so used to every day. Funny thing, I was so sure something had happened that night. Calling the guys in his office the next day, I used an ingenious excuse about staying out to talk a bit. Oh really, they said. Mentioning he had left work right on time, my hunch was right. Having used his phone to call me, he did not turn his voicemail off, and for 30 minutes I heard him rape this poor girl!
    I called him at work telling him his lies didn’t work, an NO I was not going to return the recording! Grabbing anything that was mine, I threw it all in the car and took off to stay at my friends house. No victim was ever found, needless to say after being assaulted, so he got away with another atrocity.
    Don’t feel sorry for him because I was also a part of his wrath. I flew to California to attend the graduation of my grandson.Because of the enormous amount of people in attendance, he had to share a room with me. No problem, I slept in the bed fully clothed, and never heard him come in the room. Suddenly, at around 0130, a huge fist hit directly on my neck. Sleeping on my back, I sprang out of bed and saw him slightly changing his position. Knowing body language well, I screamed at him to tell me why he assaulted me. He groggily said he had been asleep and didn’t know what happened. In my delirious condition, I fell back into bed. It was 5 days before I could remember anything of the assault, and I had been in and out of the hospital while they checked for any bit of damage. None was visible except what I would call a “contra-coup concussions”. Only one person would know what this was, and I called him to ask if he would write a court dissertation with x-rays showing the damage done. This will be my divorce, and no one will be able to deny what he will show and explain.
    These are the two examples of extreme assault and battery one can encounter. He and his girlfriend had spoken frequently about killing me, but there was never a chance without him getting caught, and not being able to spend all their money. Thank you, Dr. Huizenga, for all the help you have offered those who suffer the most.


  3. Bobette
    5 months ago

    Can you please elaborate on step #17? Is this comment typical of cheaters who finally realize they are going to lose their wife of twenty years?

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