The Unfaithful Bully

For years in my marriage, I was a bit of a bully.  I would push Samantha to do things, or use manipulative tactics to get her to do what was part of my agenda.  I’d also bully her into doing what I felt was best for our family, our marriage, or our finances.   

When my affair was exposed much of the bullying stopped, though only temporarily.  I still reverted back to old ways of trying to hurry her (i.e. bully her) into healing faster, getting over it, stop talking about it or fixating on every small detail.  I figured my ability to persuade her would get her to move quickly, but she didn’t.  She wanted to separate and then see what would come of things after she had a chance to clear her head.

For once, Samantha decided it was time to stand her ground and not be bullied by me.  I was frustrated that I wasn’t able to get her to let go of the idea of separating, and that (early on) I wasn’t able to get her to stop talking about the affair.  I didn’t see it as bullying her, as much as I saw it as leading her and leading her recovery.  After all, I was in charge of it all right? 

My cluelessness was abounding to say the least.  Who was I to lead her recovery when I had been a complete lunatic for over two years?  How could I be what she needed as the leader of recovery and sanity when I wasn’t healthy myself, and had no accurate picture of what marriage needed to look like, let alone recovery from infidelity?

The ship turned when Samantha decided I was no longer in charge.  Sure I was the head of the home, but the head was sick and had been exposed as a liar for a few years.  Though I was still honored by Samantha in the best way she could muster at the time, she let me know I didn’t get to set the agenda for our recovery and I was not in charge of what things were going to look like. 

The bully had been unseated from his throne. 

I was angry, and yes I was hurt, and no one seemed to care; especially not Samantha.  

This was the turning point in our marriage and in our recovery process:  when Samantha decided it was time to take a stand and to no longer be a prisoner to my bullying tactics.  It was also time to effuse to be bullied and pushed to do something or take some course of action, and when my advice was not heeded, I would sulk or feel rejection.  She wasn’t having any of it.

It was time for her to rise above what was the normal state of affairs for our marriage.  It was really quite brilliant.  She didn’t endeavor to be in charge or take my position, but she refused to let me take that lead in our recovery (something I knew absolutely nothing about it the first place).  I felt somewhat honored, but I didn’t feel followed. 

It was time for outside help.  Rick, and a couple who had been through it before, became a focal point of leadership in our lives, our recovery and our marital transition.  For a short season of time, I ran almost everything of importance by Rick and our friends. 

Thank God for all of them.  I couldn’t bully any of them, and if they felt like I was bullying them or trying to work around what they were saying, they were quick to call me on it. 

We desperately needed a change and we desperately needed reprogramming. I needed to learn how my bullying was damaging Samantha far more than I was aware of, and even more than she was aware of. 

As she ventured out into her own recovery process, she became in touch with her own anger towards me for bullying and pushing her. 

It was a journey indeed of forgiveness and healing we both reaped the benefits of.  If you’re a betrayed spouse and you feel as though you are not sure how to turn the ship, consider healthy but stern consequences to your spouse’s behavior.  Consider how to implement some strong consequences which will communicate that if he or she does not change, they will reap the short term consequences. 

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