When we follow experts’ checklists, and we recognize and label our spouses’ behavior as “bullying” and our demanding, controlling, narcissistic, abusive spouses as “bullies,” we generate our own power. We may use that power to re-enter the fight with renewed vigor and a new sense that we’re right. But many bullies, especially demanding, controlling, narcissistic, sneaky, manipulative, abusive spouses, will not be convinced to change by our experts or our internal power.
There’s a better way.
Bullying spouses will often get their own experts or friends or mothers to say that our experts are wrong. Their experts will say, “Our spouses are in the normal range and it’s our fault that they’re acting the way they do. We made them do it.”
Also, many bullies like to debate, argue and fight forever. They never concede a point or give ground. No matter how many experts we get to prove that they’re bullies, they won’t change. They expect to wear us down. We can see how that argument can go around and around forever.
The fundamental problem with that approach is our willingness to debate and argue because outside experts tell us that we’re right or that we’ve been wronged, and, therefore, our spouses should change.
The better course, the winning way is to ask our inner expert. We ask ourselves, not if they’re bullying us, but simply whether we like or don’t like what they do. We know what we like and don’t like; we know how much we like or hate it; we know what we’re willing to compromise about or put up with and what we’re not.
We begin with our judgment and act on that judgment. The fundamental and true justifications for what we do are “I want to” and “I don’t want to.” Not necessarily as a snap judgment, but as a source of energy and power. Later, we supply a thin coating of logical reasons to make people think we’re rational.
We’re acting on our own standards and for the benefit of our heart and soul – and probably for our kids also. That’s real power. Since we know what we want, we don’t need to change our spouse or get our spouse to agree or give permission. Gone are doubt, hesitation, self-questioning, negative, self-bullying self-talk, insecurity, lack of confidence and low self-esteem.
A declaration of what we want or don’t want is unassailable by outside experts. We know right away that any who tries to talk us out of what we want by saying, “That’s dumb. That’s crazy. That’s silly. That’s unreasonable. That’s selfish. That’s arrogant. That’s too demanding. That’s not loving,” is not a person we want to keep as a lover, friend or relative.
Acting because we want to is more than enough justification. Acting as our own expert, on our own best judgment, because we want to is how we take charge of our present and future.
Instead of thinking we need to prove or justify something according to our spouse’s logic, we’re now testing our spouse.
- We say what we will never tolerate and what we must have.
- We say what we want and don’t want strongly, and how many chances we’re giving.
- We say what we’re willing to negotiate or to give, and what we must have in return – and how many chances.
This technique is detailed in “Bullies Below the Radar: How to Wise Up, Stand Up and Stay Up,” available fastest from this web site.
Don’t pay attention to objectors or inner objections:
- Anyone who tries to talk us out of our standards.
- Anyone who says we’re mean, selfish, not understanding, unforgiving, unloving or a demanding bully.
- Anyone who demands, threatens or tries to control or coerce us to change.
- Our own feeling that we love our spouse so much we can never leave.
- Our thoughts that we need to be perfect or to honor a commitment we made before we knew the real cost of what we were buying.
We can’t let our feelings ruin our future. We’ll fall in love again with someone even better.
Given our standards, is our spouse willing to act in a way that we’ll allow them to stay on our island or will we vote them off? It’s our island and we’re the only one who votes.
It’s that clear and simple even though the specific action plan will have to be adjusted depending on the situation – money, kids, relatives, culture, etc.
But what if we’re wrong or too picky? On the one hand we do know that experts are wrong. For example, expert advice for the best way to parent has changed every few years during my lifetime. There are no guarantees.
On the other hand, we might make a mistake. So what? We are learners. The more we listen to our inner expert, the more expert it will become and the more it will help us. We’re not children any more. It’s better to follow our own path than be ruled by parents, spouses or experts.
This choice is wonderfully illustrated in the Daniel Day-Lewis movie version of “The Last of The Mohicans”.
British Major Duncan wants Cora to marry him. Her father wants her to marry him. But Cora hesitates. Cora is thinking about breaking away from the cage of her upbringing. She tells him of her hesitation.
Duncan says, “Why not let those whom you trust, like your father, help settle what is best for you. In view of your indecision, you should rely on their judgment and mine. Will you consider that?”
At first she’s not sure, but later she sees a side of Major Duncan she would never let herself live with. She tells Duncan, “I have considered your offer. The decision I have come to is that I would rather make the gravest of mistakes than surrender my own judgment. My answer to you must be, ‘No.’”
She will follow her own judgment, not theirs. She will not let those “experts” rule her life.
Be brave. We can get help to access the expert within us and learn to trust our inner expert. We can act because we want to and be the hero of our lives.