Victim Love Style in Marriage And FMTM Linkup


Here at Messy Marriage, I’ve talked about a “Victim Mentality” a lot over the years, but this isn’t necessarily what I’m talking about today. A victim mentality can develop in any person’s life regardless of their love style.

A victim mentality is a fixation on a real or supposed victimizer in one’s life, feeling helpless to do anything proactive.


Even though a “Victim love style” may also result in a “Victim Mentality,” it’s different in that it’s essentially a result of growing up in a chaotic and often abusive family (like the Controller I spoke about last week).

My father grew up in a chaotic and abusive home. At one time, my grandfather beat his wife (my grandmother) regularly. And though my dad never said, he probably was beaten as well. (Though it might’ve been considered “proper child-discipline” back in the day!)  😦

How a Victim love style develops:
1. Begins with a compliant and passive child
Children who develop a Victim love style are typically more compliant and passive, doing whatever it takes to pacify or avoid the chaotic and abusive parent(s) versus their counterparts, the child who develops a Controller love style.
2. Conditioned to not assert any needs
Parents in chaotic homes ignore the needs of their children, since these parents are often “children” themselves living inside adult bodies. So the children never learn how to assert needs, because when they do, they face abuse for voicing their needs.

[Tweet “Victims feel it’s better to keep quiet and operate independently of others. #sadperspective”]
3. Avid reader of others’ moods
Most Victims learn how to read the current mood of their parents in an effort to avoid “rocking the boat.” Sadly, this is often an exercise in futility because the child can never fully stop or predict when another meltdown is coming.

What a Victim love style looks like in marriage:
1. Often detached and averse to vulnerability
Since Victim children often disassociate from their feelings in an effort to emotionally survive, Victim adults bring that same avoidance of their own emotions and vulnerability into their marriages.
2. Anxieties run rampant
Since the Victim grew up in a home with volatility around every corner, he/she often struggles with anxiety and that carries over into marriage. This is also where the Victim’s ability to read the moods of others kicks in—causing all sorts of havoc for a couple.
3. Addictive tendencies
Another way to deal with the high level of anxiety the Victim child feels is to self-medicate—bringing some level of calm to the inner storm. This can be any addictions from food, perfectionism, and/or codependent relationships to alcohol, sexual obsessions and/or drugs. Often these begin in childhood and are never addressed for what they are in adulthood since they’re viewed as coping mechanisms.
4. Secrecy is a way of life
Since issues/emotions weren’t tolerated in childhood, Victims grow into adults that keep their feelings/problems to themselves and often hide from their mates what they’re doing to cope with the stress they feel in marriage or life.
5. Compliant to a fault
Victims often bend over backwards to ensure that their spouses are protected and pleased. That’s why Victim love styles are attracted to Controller love styles, because the Controller continues to victimize the Victim. They’re both comfortable in that unhealthy dynamic because it is familiar.

How to break the cycle in marriage:
1. Admit the problem
Just like the first step in AA and repentance in the Bible, we must recognize that we have a problem in order to deal with it.

[Tweet “The best person to begin to confess your problem to is the Lord. #findrelease”]

2. Find a good counselor and accountability partner
Similar to the Controller, the Victim’s issues are so significant that the support of a good counselor, as well as godly friends is absolutely essential to finding healing.
3. Begin a practice of prayer journaling
This is an incredible way to begin to identify, understand your emotions, and to practice communicating them with others, the first and safest being with God! I’m going to be sharing about the power of prayer journaling in a brief mini-series this December because I believe it’s that important and healing to a marriage.

[Tweet “Christian bloggers come join us for From Messes to Messages Linkup! #MessyMarriage”]


Even if you’re not a Victim, how do you relate to this love style?


What are some other helpful steps for Victims that you would add to my list?


If you’d like to read more about these “love styles” in marriage, check out How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.

I’d love your help with my “questioning marriage” vlogs where my hubby and I (or just I) respond in video form to questions on the weekend posts. You can access that brief, two question survey here. Also, you can access my survey on sexual hang-ups in marriage, where your sexual situation can be described anonymously to me. But be sure to give me enough background information to address it properly. Thanks!

I also linkup at Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Fresh Market Friday, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage


14 responses to “Victim Love Style in Marriage And FMTM Linkup”

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth. I think – unfortunately – that a lot of people will see their backgrounds and perhaps their present behaviour here.

    Certainly a lot of the ‘background’ is mine, though I’m not prone to either addiction or anxieties, and I’m not good at reading moods.

    There are a few more characteristics I might add –

    1) Fatalism – you know something bad’s going to happen, you just don’t know when, and you tend to live moment-to-moment.

    2) Distrust – I learned early that no one could really be trusted, and though I learned to moderate this with the Jewish family that took me in, I never quite shook off that kind of reserve. It’s more than detachment; it’s an active dislike of most of the world.

    The latter can manifest in faith; an abusive father can make the ‘Abba-Daddy’ paradigm really grate on the nerves. Considering God as a loving father makes no sense to me, because I never HAD a loving father. There’s no basis for comparison except in imagination and media, and I don’t really trust those either.

    3) Discipline to a fault – I considered my parents undisciplined and self-indulgent monsters, and went the other way – brutal exercise programmes (continued even with broken bones) and other ways to push my mind, body, and will.

    4) Aversion to special occasions – holidays and other special events were often the locus of conflict, and I ran from those (though I did celebrate privately, in my own way).

    I’ve read that self-destructive behaviour is another hallmark – manifest in children as self-mutilation, and in adults as overtly dangerous practices (driving too fast, smoking, etc.).

    Still praying for you!


  2. Very nice. Thanks for this.


  3. I didn’t grow up in an abusive home, but my parents were divorced and it wasn’t amicable. I learned how to read people and modify my behavior to pacify moods. I’ve also spent a long time trying to break myself from feeling I need to do that. It’s a hard pattern to break but oh, so liberating. Of course, being in an unconditional-love marriage helps! Happy Birthday, Beth! Wishing you a year of blessing, joy and sweet surprises!


  4. Bev @ Walking Well With God Avatar
    Bev @ Walking Well With God

    I grew up in a happy home for the most part, but married a verbally and emotionally abusive husband. All the traits you listed about the “victim mentality” and behavior are right on target. Thankfully out of that marriage, but it’s taking literally years to break free of learned behavior….but with God (and a wonderfully godly husband) ALL things are possible. Thanks for your wisdom here…


  5. I honestly cannot think of anyone in our family who is/was like this. I hope that remains true. xo


  6. Have I mentioned how much I love your sharing all these different intricacies of personalities and marriages? I think the one thing we have to remember is that Jesus can redeem any of these “traits” and heal and restore an individual and/or their marriage to wholeness. This is what I love about our Lord, He takes all this brokenness you describe and if we let Him, can heal us from so much hurt and abuse of our past. So thankful for restoration with our Father. I have really enjoyed your series! Told my hubby he and the other leaders in our church marriage ministry need to check out the book you reference too! Bless you for your desire to share and educate with others about the messiness of humanness and marriage. Love you and your heart toward others friend! xoxo


  7. Something your series is doing for me is that it’s helping me to think through my boys’ tendencies. I want to be a faithful prayer warrior for them in their marriages (especially praying for their wives!), and knowing a bit about different styles of relaters in marriage will be helpful for that role.


  8. Hi, Beth! Marriage has a way of bring all that baggage to a head, doesn’t it! But thankfully, as we see and admit to the issues, as you said, we can begin dealing with them biblically. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving.


  9. I’m sorry that your dad had to experience that with his parents. It makes me so sad to think of all the things that kids and adults go through. 😦 Thank you for providing a picture of hope and redemption though; God’s grace is bigger than all our troubles.


  10. Wow, Beth, you just helped me see why my father passively went along with my stepmother. Very eye opening.


  11. This is so interesting, Beth. I am visiting you from Holley’s link-up and was so happy to see you are hosting a link-up! I just linked up and added your button to my link-ups page. Thank you ever so much, and God bless you!


  12. Hi Beth — Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving! You and the blog are looking great, doing wonderful things! Hugs…


    1. For some reason I am having trouble signing in with Disqus 😦


  13. Hi Beth! As you go through each of these styles, it’s amazing how parts of each of them can play into our lives, as well as amazing to then recognize those behaviors in others. It gives us insight into friends or others to whom we may be connected. Sometimes the behaviors are so frustrating, but once we are given a window into the “why” somehow empathy and compassion are easier. I always love my time here. I’ve been so slammed the last month, I haven’t had a chance to do any of my favorite stops! I’m loving the breather I’m getting right now 🙂
    Blessings and smiles,


Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: