As a child I followed rules without question. As a teen I remember telling a school mate that rules were meant to be broken, but I rarely broke any school regulations. As an adult in the workplace I questioned things that didn’t make sense. Sometimes there were ways around certain things however, some things just can’t be changed. They are steeped in tradition, bureaucracy and politics. It’s how it was always done, and always will be.

Every relationship including marriage has boundaries. Some are unspoken, others are born of discussion and implemented. For the most part they are healthy and help promote positivity. The dictum in abusive relationships are always one-sided and final. They can’t be negotiated or changed. They are unfair and oppressive. They take away your freedoms and silence your voice.

I wanted to visit my folks who lived on the way home. I was just about to ask that he let me out of the car before turning off the main road when he ‘gave permission’ to me to visit them. The problem was that if I took it upon myself to say I wanted to go see them, it would lead to an argument, but somehow it was ok for him to make the suggestion. I was annoyed with myself that I hadn’t said something earlier.

“I will see them some other time”.

“But you have not seen them for a long time, it’s time you pay them a visit”.

“I’m aware of that, but here’s the thing. I never tell you when you should visit your mum. Never. It’s up to you when you do. I will visit my parents when I choose to do so. I don’t need your permission to visit my own parents!”

I remember an occasion when he suddenly announced that our Pastor was coming to see us and I had ten minutes to make myself presentable. Mr Impatient informed me that he had invited the Pastor to come since we were having issues. I  was surprised that he had taken this step but also embarrassed, we had hardly been married more than a month. Ultimately though I knew it would be good for us to have some counselling. Fast forward a few months and I called our Pastor asking him to come visit again. I had tried to call Mr Impatient first but he was out of range. I reasoned that he wouldn’t mind since he had done it before. The pastor was available. When I eventually got Mr Impatient on the phone, he point blank told me that I had no right to call the minister and that he didn’t want the man at his home. I  reminded him that he had done the very same thing months before. What was the difference? He couldn’t give an answer and merely restated his opinion on the matter. I had no other choice than to cancel the appointment with our Pastor.

We had promised that in accordance with the good advice of the bible, ‘Don’t go to bed angry’ (Ephesians 4:26), that we would resolve any problems before going to bed, never letting them fester till the next morning. However, there were numerous times when he slept in the spare room. No amount of pleading or bargaining would change his mind to leave the room. I tried to do the same on at least 2 occasions. I didn’t think he would care or even bother with me. The first time I returned to our bedroom of my own free will because it felt like another argument was about to erupt. The second time I didn’t care. I was at my wits end and needed some solitude. He kept coming to warn me of the errors of my ways. He didn’t apologise, didn’t ask that we have a conversation, didn’t ask how I felt. He simply wanted to flex his verbal muscles. The final time he came into the room he pulled the sheet I was covering with and said that if I knew what was good for me I’d find myself in our bedroom very soon. The unspoken threat was ominous.

The narcissist has one set of rules for themselves and another set for everyone else. Their aim is to always be in control and have the upper hand. They intimidate the victim into submission. They accomplish this regime because whether or not they recognise it or even admit it, the victim fears them. God never created any of us His children to live in fear. No relationship especially marriage should be built on anxiety or unease. It is a recipe for sure disaster. The only way to avoid it is to walk away from it.

For God hath not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

The Message Bible

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