Spousal Bullying: Quite Common

spousal bullyingWhen people picture bullies, it is not often that they picture their spouse.[1] Instead, they think of classmates, coworkers, and social acquaintances.1 People are less likely to believe that their loved ones could actually be bullies; however, bullying behavior is no stranger to close relationships.1 Spousal bullying is common. How can you tell if your spouse has crossed the line to bullying? Here are five signs:

  1. Name Calling. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me” is a common saying, but it is also untrue at times. People who are close to us can definitely hurt us with negative words, especially when they call us names. We take it to heart. Although there are plenty of awful names out there, a spouse will usually use terms that are more belittling when calling their significant other names: weakling, idiot, etc.1
  2. Taunting. Bullies are known for their taunting, and it is no different if that person is your spouse.1 When you try to stand up for yourself, they might taunt you in order to control you or put you down.1 “What are you going to do about it?” is a common taunt.1
  3. Verbal & Physical Aggression. Sticks and stones and other people can break your bones, and these instances are serious. It may start off as verbal aggression, but it can easily get physical as the bully gets riled up.1 When things get physical, it is a sure sign that your spouse is a bully and you deserve better.1
  4. Controlling Behavior. America is the land of the free, and if our country provides us freedom, it should be no different within your own home. Some spouses like to have complete control and deny freedom and autonomy to their significant others.1 Constant criticism and put-downs are said to make you feel small and inferior to your spouse.1
  5. Public Put-Downs. When your spouse belittles you in public, they are surely a bully.1 They try to dominate their significant other by sharing that person’s secrets with others in a negative light.1 For example, “Let me tell you how stupid he is…” or “She wants to become a manager at work, can you imagine that?” are examples of belittling.1

Spousal bullying has many motivations.1 Oftentimes, they are the ones that feel inadequate and lack self-esteem; therefore, they attempt to make themselves feel better by belittling their spouse.1 Some just have no empathy for others, and others are the target of bullying elsewhere and bring it home.1 When a spouse becomes a bully, it is time for the other half to seek help.1 It can have negative consequences, and it can be dangerous if nothing is done.

[1] Riggio, R. E. (2014, March 26). 5 Signs Your Spouse Is a Bully. Psychology Today. Retrieved March 27, 2014, from http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/cutting-edge-leadership/201403/5-signs-your-spouse-is-bully

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