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Are You Married to a Gaslighter?

Has your spouse been cutting you down, telling you that you have no value but then hours or days later telling you how amazing you are? Do they then firmly deny devaluing you and say, “I never said anything like that. You imagine things.” You then begin to think that maybe you misunderstood them, or you give them the benefit of the doubt, only to have them repeat these gaslighting behaviors days later. If you relate to this scenario, your spouse may be gaslighting you.

Gaslighting is a manipulation tactic in which a spouse, in order to gain more power throughout the divorce process, makes the other spouse question their reality. Chances are they have behaved similarly throughout the duration of marriage and this could be the main reason the other spouse is desperate to separate from the Gaslighter. Gaslighting is a common technique used by abusers, narcissists and cult leaders. This is designed to keep the victim off-kilter and continuously questioning their reality.

These are some common behaviors Gaslighters exhibit:

  1. Countering: The Gaslighter challenges your recollection of events and counters your assertions by saying things like, “No, that’s not what happened,” when you’re certain you are recalling the events accurately. 
  2. Trivializing: The Gaslighter downplays or belittles your concerns and implies that your feelings or needs are not important. When you are trying to explain that something is bothering you, the Gaslighter may say things like “Get over it” or “Quit being so sensitive.”
  3. Forgetting or Denying: The Gaslighter denies ever making promises or statements by saying “You’re just making that up” or “What are you talking about?” The Gaslighter feigns ignorance of previously made statements.
  4. Withholding: The Gaslighter refuses to engage in conversation about important matters and responds to your concerns by saying “Will you give it a rest?” or “Stop playing head games.”
  5. Projecting: Gaslighters are often cheaters and abusers and yet, they often accuse their spouses of this behavior. This puts the victim on the defense and distracts from the Gaslighter’s behavior. 
  6. Manipulating: Gaslighters are master manipulators. They try to manipulate the facts in divorce, often trying to paint their spouse as the liar or cheater, when in fact it is the Gaslighter who is usually cheating, lying or manipulating.

Often, it is the behaviors mentioned above that make the other spouse afraid of seeking a divorce, especially if children are involved. Although it is never easy to divorce a Gaslighter, do your best to prepare by making copies of important documents pertaining to your marital assets, create a support system for yourself, and be reasonable about your expectations relative to divorce. Most importantly, consult with an attorney who is familiar with dealing with Gaslighters. 

The Law Offices of Patricia Palma has 19 years of experience dealing with Gaslighters and difficult spouses. If you have questions regarding a Gaslighter spouse and the divorce process, contact The Law Offices of Patricia Palma, P.A at 813-258-3211 or contact us online to schedule a meeting at our Tampa office.

Disclaimer: The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information contained in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting on the basis of any information included in, or accessible through, this Post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.


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