WINNING AT ANY PRICE
Have you ever had the feeling that your partner sees you as an enemy? King Saul repeatedly called David his "enemy" (1 Samuel 19:17 and 24:19), even though David swore not to harm him (1 Samuel 24:21-22) and spared his life twice (1 Samuel 24 and 26). You may have said as David did in 1Samuel 20:1, "What have I done? What is my crime?"
Like Saul, many abusers have an adversarial view of the world. Patricia Evans, in her book The Verbally Abusive Relationship, describes abusers as living in a different reality. In this reality, the world must be manipulated and controlled and everyone is a potential enemy. For such people:
Relationships are based on control, not cooperation.
Warmth and openness are seen as weakness and vulnerability.
Their self-worth may come from getting what they want, or trying to win by causing others to lose.
People living in this other reality may feel powerful when they put someone down, call them degrading names, or withhold communication or information. They may have to have the last word and insist on being right.
Accepting a partner as an equal would be a disadvantage for such people, because it would mean giving up control, dominance, and privilege. This win-lose attitude and the need for control can be carried to the extreme. People living in this "other reality" may relentlessly pursue their victims through the courts in order to "win." Some become stalkers. Others feel they must win at any price—even homicide or suicide-homicide. (Saul sent a whole army after David.) Because of this, threats should always be taken seriously: if a person could possibly think of it and say it, it is very possible for them to act on it. We should believe they will, and act accordingly.
What a contrast Saul's use of power is to the type of authority that Jesus taught and demonstrated! Though he had all authority and power, he washed the feet of his disciples and sacrificed himself for us all. In Matthew 20:25-28 Jesus explained godly leadership this way: "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave-just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life as a ransom for many."
What are some of the ways in which the concept of the man as the head of the home can be used abusively within a marriage?