How to Tell If You’re a Bully

How to Tell If You’re a Bully March 19, 2020

am i bullying my husbandDo you do whatever is necessary to maintain control in your marriage? Do you pout or throw temper tantrums to get your way? If so, you may need to ask yourself, “Am I bullying my husband?”

Women are usually portrayed as the weaker sex, but you don’t have to be physically strong or physically abusive to be a bully. You can be an emotional bully.

A bullied man feels disrespected. He feels like he can’t do anything right, so he may stop trying. If he stops trying, he’ll grow distant and disinterested. Bullying is a sure-fire way to drive your man away.

I know. Early in my marriage (I’m ashamed to say), I used bullying tactics. They didn’t work. Bullying will never get you what you want. Even so, when I was unhappy, I had ways to let him know. He might not have known what was wrong, but he knew there was a problem.

I didn’t have the skills to communicate my feelings in a way he could hear me. When you don’t have the skills to express yourself, it’s easy to resort to bullying.

Bullying never gets you what you want. If may be a short-term solution, but it creates long-term problems.

You may be caught up in the habit of bullying without realizing it.

There’s good news. You don’t have to be a bully. You can learn skills to communicate and connect with your husband in a way that builds intimacy and trust.

If you use these tactics during fighting, you may be a bully:

1. You accuse and blame

If you’re overly critical or you complain a lot, you may be a bully. Do you hurl accusations and blame at your husband? Bullies use negativity and criticism to get their way. These tactics can quickly turn into verbally abuse.

2. You threaten

If you use threats to get your way, you may be a bully. Do you threaten divorcing him or leaving with your kids as a tool to get what you want? When you threaten to leave, he may think you aren’t committed. He’ll become distant. And you’ll become frustrated. Here’s the worst part. When you make a threat like that, you might feel like you have to follow through. Threaten it enough and he may beat you to it.

3. You punish and seek revenge

If you punish him or try to get revenge, you may be a bully. Do you look for ways to pay him back or punish him when you’re upset? Do you give him the cold shoulder, withhold sex, hang out with your friends for hours, or try to embarrass him in front of others? These are definitely bullying tactics. You’re withholding physical, psychological, and emotional comfort. You may not come out and say what the problem is, but he definitely knows there is one. And he’s left guessing.

4. You have unreasonable expectations

If you have unreasonable expectations, you may be a bully. Are you hard to please? No matter how hard he tries, it’s never enough. You expect him to drop whatever he’s doing and tend to your needs. You come first. You have an endless list of demands that no mere mortal man could ever fulfill. Your complaints include: You’re not romantic enough, you don’t spend enough time with me, you’re not sensitive enough, you’re can’t figure out my needs, you don’t make enough money. The result: He feels like he’s not enough.

5. You yell and interrupt

If you yell at him or interrupt him during arguments, you may be a bully. Do you try to talk over him when you’re upset? Bullies don’t give others a chance to express their opinions. No one else’s opinion matters. You shout over him so he can’t talk during disagreements.

6. You slam doors or throw things

If you slam doors or throw things, you may be a bully. When you slam doors or throw things (even if you’re not throwing things at him), you’re trying to intimidate him to get your way. It never works long term.

7. You throw in the ‘kitchen sink’

If you constantly bring up the past to manipulate situations, you may be a bully. Do you bring up anything–no matter how long ago it happened or what it relates to– to make your point? That’s called “throwing in everything but the kitchen sink.” When you’re angry you use whatever necessary to win. No matter how many times he’s apologized for it and no matter how degrading or hurtful it is. You want to win no matter what the costs.

If you recognize yourself here, you may be a bully. Bullying will drive your man away.

Here’s the good news. You don’t have to be a bully. You can learn ways to communicate with your husband in ways that honor him. Counseling and coaching are two ways to learn how to respond differently.

Contact me about my next group session or a mini session of Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage  to learn skills to build intimacy in your marriage.

Need skills to build intimacy?

  1. Learn how to radically change your marriage in Change Your Mind; Change Your Marriage.
  2. Visit my website,  like my Facebook page and  join my private Facebook group.
  3. Check out my FREE resources and download  How to Be A Wife No Man Will Ever Want to Leave.
  4. Apply for private coaching with Sheila.

Subscribe to updates from The Not So Excellent Wife here!

Also known as the Not So Excellent Wife, Sheila Qualls understands how tiring a tough marriage can be. 

She went from the brink of divorce to having a thriving marriage by translating timeless truths into practical skills. She’s helped women just like you turn their men into the husbands they want.

After 33 years of marriage, she’s a  coach  and a speaker whose passion is to equip women to break relationship-stifling habits and do marriage God’s way. And you don’t have to be a doormat to do it.

She and her husband Kendall live in Minnesota with their five children and their Black Lab, Largo.

In addition to coaching, Sheila is a member of the MOPS Speaker Network.  Her work has been featured on the MOPS Blog, The Upper Room, Grown and Flown, Scary Mommy, Beliefnet, Candidly Christian,, The Mighty and on various other sites on the Internet.

Browse Our Archives