My wife engages in a lot of emotionally abusive behaviour, including yelling, calling names, and the more dangerous stuff like the passive aggressive silent treatment, gaslighting, projection of her own mistakes on to others etc. We have two small children, and so far she has done less of this with them, but as they grow and begin to challenge her authority I can see her doing it more and more.
I am learning to set boundaries and am in the last stages of trying to either change this relationship or leave (please do NOT give me advice on the relationship - that's not what I'm looking for). I've made a small poster and want to put it up in the house to both help my kids understand and to reduce the amount of self-blame if she begins to guilt trip and use the silent treatment on them as well. So I came up with these points for the poster:
If I'm angry, it's my job to tell you calmly, and your job to listen calmly.
If I feel like screaming or hitting you, it's my job to calm down, and your job to let me calm down.
If I call you bad names, it's my job to stop, and your job to not believe what I say about you.
If I do something wrong, it's my job to say sorry and try to make things better.
If I honestly do that, it's your job to stop being angry.
And it's our job to love, to care, to build our dreams together.
Would these be ok? Do you think I should change them or add anything? Please also note that my wife will, definitely, reject anything I propose, so please do not suggest discussing it with her, as at this point that will not help.
EDIT: Here is a revised version, based on the very very helpful comments from @anongoodnurse below. Explanation for revisions below this.
OUR FAMILY FIGHTING RULES
Repeat after me:
If I'm angry with you, it's my job to explain why, calmly and clearly.
If I feel like screaming or hitting you, it's my job to calm down.
If you're telling me what you're feeling and why - angry or sad or happy or lonely - it's my job to listen and to care.
If I'm calling you names or saying you're a bad person, you shouldn't believe what I say about you, and it's my job to stop.
When I do something wrong, it's my job to say sorry and try to make things better.
If you do something wrong, say sorry, and try to make things better, it's my job to forgive you and stop being angry.
Whatever you do, it's always my job to care for you.
Because we all make mistakes, and we all need forgiveness, because otherwise we can't do our main job - to love, to care, and to build our dreams together.
- To avoid the impression, that was pointed out, that any one "job" depends on the other person doing theirs
- To include the explicit point about negative self-images
- The last two points in @anongoodnurse's list seemed like they specifically were aimed at the person being abusive - so putting them in seems like it would make the poster seems less universal, since as he/she said, the key is to make these rules that clearly apply to everyone. Those could be communicated elsewhere?
NB: In case it might be useful, I've put up a poster version of these rules here.