The issue with the original piece was that the conversation and the internal monologue were offered without comment or conclusion.
The husband in the piece is clearly emotionally abusive. The wife in the inner monologue is clearly gaslighting herself. That this happens is not in question. So, what point, other than, “look how fucked up some people’s relationships are” is the author trying to make? We are left to ponder, not what to do about the issue, but what the author is trying to say.
The response to that question: What is the author trying to say? Is actually enlightening. Those who don’t recognize the abuse as abuse are probably abusive themselves. Those who recognize the abuse and simply condemn the husband for being a prick don’t recognize what a self selecting victim looks like.
Objectively, a man who tends towards this sort of emotional abuse is going to seek out someone who will allow it, and a woman who accepts this behavior without objection — even in her inner monologue — who seems to not just accept it, but tacitly seems to think she deserves it, is someone who has self-selected to be a perpetual victim. The conversation in the author’s play is deeply dysfunctional, on both sides.
The other problem with the essay is the gender normativity of the roles she assigns. The stereotypes are too pat. Emotional abuse doesn’t have a gender. Manipulation occurs in a lot of relationships, and women can be just as emotionally abusive in their relationships as men.
The conclusion here is that abusive people suck. But also, that no one can make you feel like you deserve this without your consent. They both need therapy.
My response was to show what a healthy relationship looks like, as a counterpoint to this weird essay.