Mary Jo Rapini Asks 'Are You Married To a Bully?' - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Mary Jo Rapini Asks 'Are You Married To a Bully?'


Bully behavior begins in childhood as children 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.

Some bullies may ask forgiveness or become compassionate to those they hurt or offended, but some of them do not learn and they develop 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?," asks psychotherapist Mary Jo Rapini. They are usually screamers, yellers, attackers, lovers of chaos and unpredictable. Women can be bullies as well as men.

Rapini has provided the following list of ways to identify if a spouse is a bully:

1. Unpredictability with what sets them off - The same behavior done one day with no response may set off an explosion the next day. It could be frequently like this in a home and there may not be a way to know what will make he or she overreact.
2. Accusations of falsifying information - The only way to prove this is to tape record it, although if it has gotten out of hand, it would be wise to seek guidance from a professional.
3. Ridicule or teasing with critical remarks - If a spouse is told that this hurts his or her loved one's feelings, they tend to respond by saying they were just kidding, and ask what is wrong with their loved one and chide him or her for not being able to take a joke.
4. Isolation or rejection - A spouse may complain that his or her loved one does not do or say exactly what her or she wanted. It is the spouse's way of showing his or her partner who has the most power in the relationship.
5. They make threats saying if you don’t “come to your senses” or give in to their way they will threaten to leave, file for divorce, take away money, or take the children; there are few limits here. They are bullies, and they do what they have to in order to get their way.

For anyone trying to make his or her marriage work with a bully, Rapini shares 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 a spouse can come to terms with his or her behavior and accept that he or she has problems that must be worked out for the marriage to survive.

1. The only person that a concerned partner can change in this relationship is himself or herself and the way he or she reacts to a spouse’s behavior.
2. Being as direct as possible with bully spouses will help them to know how far they can push their partners. It will begin to make you feel more in control of what your choices are.
3. When a bully spouse treats his or her partner well, the partner should always tell the spouse how much he or she appreciates the way that they are communicating.
4. As much as possible, relationship should be nurtured with continued time alone and communicating with one another about the vision for the marriage.
5. Using “I feel” statements helps a spouse not become defensive and also helps the spouse's partner define and claim what the partner is feeling.
6. The concerned partner should be honest with himself or herself and stop covering for a spouse when he or she is demonstrating bully behavior.
7. Whenever possible, a partner should allow a bully spouse to receive the natural consequences they will from their bully behavior.

One of the worst things about being married to a bully is that 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. 

On the Web:

Mary Jo Rapini --

Visit Mary Jo Rapini online on @maryjorapini.

Watch Mary Jo Rapini every Thursday morning on FOX 26 Morning News Extra during the segment 'Mind, Body, Soul with Mary Jo.'

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