Are You In A Relationship With A Bully?

We hear about kids being bullies, but what happens when a child bully grows up to be a "big bully?"


Bully behavior begins in childhood. Kids watch their parents and siblings and learn those behaviors. If they learn bullying behaviors they will mimic them. Some of them learn the error of their ways and change. They may ask forgiveness or become compassionate to those they hurt or offended. Some of them don’t learn, and they keep growing into adult bullies. These adult bullies have relationships and marry unsuspecting people. They can wear a mask and act normal, but when they are stressed or dissatisfied they show their bully mindset.


Are you married to a bully? They usually are screamers, yellers, attackers, lovers of chaos, and unpredictable. Women can be bullies as well as men. Below are a few ways you can identify if your spouse is a bully.

  • Unpredictable with what sets them off. The same behavior you did yesterday with no response may set off an explosion today. It is frequently like this in your home. You never know what will make them overreact.
  • They accuse you of falsifying information. The only way to prove this is to tape record it, although if it’s gotten out of hand seek guidance from a professional.
  • They make fun of you or tease you with critical remarks. If you tell them this hurts your feelings they respond by saying they were just kidding, and ask what is wrong with you. They chide you for not being able to take a joke.
  • They isolate or reject you if you don’t do or say exactly what they wanted. It is their way showing you who has the most power in the relationship.
  • They make threats saying if you don’t “come to your senses” or give in to their way they will leave you, divorce you, take your money, or take the kids; there are few limits here. They are bullies, and they do what they have to in order to get their way.

If you are trying to work on your marriage with a bully here are a few suggestions that may make it easier to cope with them. When and if abuse is part of the relationship the best choice is to separate. Keep this separation until your spouse can come to terms with their behavior and accept that they have problems that must be worked out for the marriage to survive. The only person you can change in this relationship is yourself and your reactions to your spouse’s behavior. Being as direct as possible with your bully spouse will help them know how far they can push you. It will begin to make you feel more in control of what your choices are.

  • When your bully spouse treats you well, always tell them you appreciate the way they are communicating with you.
  • As much as possible, nurture your relationship with continued time alone and communicate with one another about the vision for your marriage.
  • Using “I feel” statements helps your spouse not become defensive and also helps you define and claim what you are feeling Be honest with yourself and stop covering for your spouse when they are demonstrating bully behavior.
  • Whenever possible let your spouse receive the natural consequences they will from their bully behavior.
  • One of the worst things about being married to a bully is they demonstrate and mentor their behavior for their children.

An open, honest relationship where both spouses can discuss the behavior and work toward eliminating it together is the best treatment approach.

–Mary Jo Rapini

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