“Then Delilah pouted, “How can you say you love me when you don’t confide in me? … And she nagged him daily with her words until his soul was annoyed to death.” Judges 16:15-16
Delilah is such a perfect picture of the manipulative wife! Manipulation is an attempt to subtly influence someone’s behavior in order to achieve a desired outcome. Manipulators are masters at exploiting the fears, weaknesses, and insecurities of others.
Boy – I have seen some female manipulators in my life! And I bet you have too. It’s an ugly thing… and it doesn’t make you want to be around that person. What’s worse, is that sometimes they’re in your wider family and you cannot avoid them. Sigh.
Interesting to note, however, their motives are not always purely selfish. Sometimes manipulators have controlling personalities and simply feel they know what’s best for all concerned. They would say they are just motivating you to make good choices, not manipulating you.
So here are some “tactics” that manipulators use: flattering, “kissing up”, attempting to produce guilt by blaming or shaming, feigning ignorance of relevant facts, withholding information, distorting the truth, pretending to be hurt emotionally, appealing to insecurities, false humility, making subtle threats, crying, nagging, hinting or making indirect comments, using financial enticements, or any other behavior that pulls on the emotions of the other party.
Whew. Quite a list. Do you see them in others? In yourself?
I can see them clearly in my kids and in others – not so clearly in myself!
In a brave moment I went and asked my husband if he saw any “manipulative trends” in my life and words. He stared at me over the top of his reading glasses for a minute, thinking and weighing his answers. I told him I was serious and that I wouldn’t fire back in anger (It took me more than 10 years to stop doing that!!) Then he said yes. With the kids – when I am frustrated I withhold my approval/love from them. I tend to only convey approval to them when they are being obedient, and withhold it when I am irritated. And with him – I tend to exaggerate (uh oh, familiar word!) when I am trying to persuade him to my point of view. When I am being very persuasive he knows that he has to double-check the facts. Sigh. Well now I know where I stand.
Last thought – my free advice for the morning. Speak clearly to your husband. Not unkindly, but clearly. The silent treatment doesn’t work on men. And they’re never going to guess what you are hinting at. Whatever is wrong, whatever you need or want, or are worried about… spit it out clearly, kindly, and only once. Make sure he understands. And then swear to yourself that you will NOT bring it up again. Do not nag him to death. That doesn’t work either, they only grow to resent you. I have learned some things.
“It is better to live on the corner of the roof, than in a house shared with a contentious (nagging, manipulative) woman.” Proverbs 21:9
30 Days to Taming Your Tongue, a Bible study by Deborah Pegues