When most people think of a bully, they think of playground threats and stolen lunch money. A bully feels the need to control the behaviour of another person, which can be evident in his working and personal relationships. However, bullying in marriages is not as uncommon as you may think, though it may be much subtler. Over time, a bullying spouse can wear down your self-confidence and leave you second-guessing even the most minor decisions. It is vital to take steps before the behaviour has a chance to cause irreparable damage to your marriage.
Keep a written record of the bullying for one week. Each incident of bullying that occurs by your spouse should be detailed and dated.
Confront your spouse about the behaviour. Explain calmly why the behaviour bothers you and that you would like for it to stop. Many bullies do not recognise their behaviour as bullying until that fact is pointed out to them by another person.
Show your spouse the documentation you have compiled of her behaviour. A written record is an objective way to show your spouse that they way you are being treated is unfair. It also serves as proof for a partner who denies the behaviour.
Evaluate your own behaviour. What you perceive as bullying may be your partner's natural response to what she perceives as indecisiveness. Sit down with your spouse and discuss the reasons why she feels she has to be in control at all times and what you can do to help. Both of you may need to modify your behaviour before the situation can be rectified.
Stand up to the bullying when it occurs. This does not mean you should initiate a shouting match with your partner. When your spouse attempts to bully you into a decision, let him know firmly but kindly that you value his opinion and will take it into consideration. This validates your spouse's feelings while also making it clear that the choice is yours to make. Failing to stand up for yourself enables your spouse to continue the negative behaviour.
Seek counselling if the bullying continues. It is possible that your spouse's control issues run too deep for you to remedy. A counsellor will be able to provide both of you with the help you need to modify negative behaviours and keep the marriage healthy.
If the bullying is severe or escalates to physical attacks, it is imperative that you remove yourself from the situation immediately. No one deserves to be abused.
Tips and warnings
- If the bullying is severe or escalates to physical attacks, it is imperative that you remove yourself from the situation immediately. No one deserves to be abused.