Were you ever bullied when you were growing up? You know what I’m talking about. Was there ever a kid or group of kids in your school that made fun of you or belittled you and made you feel inadequate?  I remember a particular girl in my junior high school who was labeled the “popular kid.” She never had a good thing to say when she saw me.  I was born and raised for the first 12 years of my life on a farm and she was a city girl. She thought very little of country girls so she made fun of me whenever she could.  It was a horrible feeling to know she was going to say hurtful things and that no one in my class was going to challenge her. They knew if they did that she would start to do the same thing to them and they didn’t want that experience.  It didn’t matter how nice I was to her, she seemed to find some sort of pleasure in hurting me.

As I look back on that experience, I realize that this girl was very unhappy and it was easier for her to hurt me than to deal with her own issues. Hurting me distracted her from her own pain. In fact, if we were to look at the background of most bullies we would find they had traumatic and dysfunctional experiences. Joyce Meyer says it well when she says, “Hurting people hurt people.”     

As I thought about that experience and how painful it was for me, I realized that there is such a thing as a “marriage bully.” A marriage bully is someone who constantly picks on his/her spouse.  Frequently, the picking is due to his/her own issues and due to the fact that he/she hasn’t dealt with those issues. I am sad to admit that I was a marriage bully for many years.  There we so many things I didn’t like about myself and rather than deal with those things and change, it was just easier to harp at my husband to change.  It wasn’t until our marriage was headed for divorce that I realized I needed to look at myself and deal with my issues in order to see real change in our relationship.

I am grateful that God gave us another chance and that I seriously allowed God to help me work on my “stuff.”  You see, you will never have the marriage you want if your life is full of junk. You need to allow God to fix you first rather than beg Him to fix your partner. I love the way the Bible says it in The Message version, “Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults, unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.”

So, examine yourself today……are you a marriage bully? Do you pick at your spouse and harp about the things you want him/her to change or do you spend time looking at your own issues and working on changing those?  Maybe today is a good day to stop the bullying, pick up a washcloth and start scrubbing the dirt on your own face!

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