Bullying doesn't stay behind classroom doors. Bullying reaches marriages as well. People presume since they've known their spouse for so long, getting bullied is acceptable. Sadly, it is not acceptable in any way. Where there is bullying, there is no respect.

Marrying at a young age opened my eyes to a reality I wasn't emotionally or mentally prepared for. Being told I couldn't do something or ridiculed for trying something new was the worst kind of bullying I've ever experienced. When the words were unkind and the tone of voice was that of a drill sergeant, I realized the marriage was heading down an unpleasant path. I'm glad I was able to speak up and ask for help.

Moreover, we hear or read about husbands belittling their wives. But wives are not the only victims. Contrary to popular belief, bullied husbands exist. There are wives with little or no regard for their husbands - and that is not OK. No one deserves to be belittled by anyone. And even less by the person who professes love to you.

Have you experienced any of the following?

  • your spouse has no faith in you or what you do;

  • intimidates you;

  • mocks you in front of the children or family members;

  • disrespects your opinion and doesn't include you in any of the decision-making;

  • treats you as a servant and never thanks you for the things you do;

  • teases you physically by comparing you to other women or men.

  • expects you to do things at a certain time in a certain way or else.

If so, here are three tips to help in the matter:

1. Speak up

Don't be meek. As intimidated as you may feel, you must defend yourself. The moment your spouse makes you feel undignified, you tell him or her how you feel. Show your spouse you have a voice and you will use it. Stand up to the bully.

2. Seek help from a trusted person

It's embarrassing to admit there is something wrong in your marriage. But you need to put those feelings of shame aside - for you and your children's well-being. It's unhealthy to raise your children in a bullying setting. It will teach them it is OK to get bullied and to bully. Therefore, reach out to someone you deeply trust. Perhaps it's a best friend, sibling, pastor or someone in your community. It's not recommended to have others intervene in your marriage unless it's professional counseling. But if you know this person well, maybe they can speak to your spouse. If your spouse hears how you feel from someone close to you, maybe he or she will come around.

3. Marriage counseling

Requesting help from an unbiased person is sometimes the route to go. The marriage counselor will not only hear both sides of the story, but he will suggest a variety of exercises or techniques to improve the situation. Based on the information you and your spouse share with the counselor, he may recommend separate counseling for the children. Your kids may seem fine, but chances are they've already been subjected to fear.

It's important to understand the severity of bullying in any relationship including your marriage. Do not make excuses for your spouse. Seek help. Always remember you and your children deserve to live in a healthy and bully-free environment.

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