You thought you were the only one who was a bitch to their husband? Sadly, or perhaps, reassuringly, that is not the case. You are in good company.
Being a bitch to the ones we love is common amongst us women.
Read on or listen to the post below.
It is strange isn’t it, that the ones we love the most, get our most bitchy behaviour.
On some level it makes sense, and we can justify it all, I mean, of course we are going to have moments when we get cranky and let loose. Or for some of us it is all we know of long term relationships as it is our mother's or parents behaviour.
The problem is that we can get stuck in bitch mode, our relationships feeling less and less connected without things getting better. This is not good for us, nor is it great for our relationship.
We don’t want to be bitches and we don’t want to push away a good man or a good relationship.
This post aims to help you gain awareness around your relationship "bitch" so that you can feel more in control of your reactions and feel like you are building the loving, safe relationship that you really want.
Before we delve into this let’s get clear on a few things;
- This post is talking as if to a heterosexual woman for ease, familiarity and as this is what I know. If this is not you, I am sorry not to speak to you directly. I hope the words you find here still feel relevant as they are relevant to everyone in relationship.
- I am presuming that your partner is a “good” man. Good in that he is not violent or abusive and he is worth you making this effort to improve your relationship. If he is not, then perhaps you are being a bitch as you have no other choice. If this is you, I recommend you get help. If you are in Australia get help here.
- The fact that you have asked this question to yourself has me presuming that you are ready to look at your own behaviour and take the steps to grow and make changes. No? then perhaps this is not the right post for you.
- We are not suggesting that your partner is a saint. He has his faults, but that is not what this post is about. This post is about the changes that you can make to get out of this pattern.
- Bitch is a horrible, derogatory word. I apologise if it offends you. I am using it here, as I have found nothing better to describe my own behaviour when I am triggered, angry and I take it out on my partner. (Screaming banshee might have cut it!) The word describes the behaviour and not the woman. Certainly not you!
So why are we such bitches to our beloved life partners? Is it because;
- We are with this person A LOT and sometimes they’re an idiot
- We feel the pressure of having to make this work “‘til death do us part”
- Our lives are full of pressure…. financial, kids, time, family etc.
- We need to let off steam and we prefer to do it somewhere safe - our partners are a safe place
- We are hormonal & emotional creatures
- We have watched way too many fairy-tales about how love should look and now we have unrealistic expectations
All of the above, right?
We blame our bitchiness on the things in the list above, but when I delve deeper with myself and my clients, we often find there are other, deeper issues at play. The above are easy excuses for being a bitch but they are not the real reason. Want to take this deeper and have the understanding that will help you change, then I invite you to peruse the reasons below.
I see 3 main causes for our bitchy behaviour; Insecurity, a build up of resentment and poor communication.
Relationships can bring out insecurities in even the most stable and secure among us. There is something about the closeness, the intimacy and the trust required that makes us doubt our worthiness to be loved by this person.
You may be the most confident person in all other areas of your life, but faced with truly opening your heart to another, you may find the question arising within you “am I enough?”. Or it might not even be that obvious. you might just want to push and run and hide.
This is normal, in fact I believe it is a part of the human condition (ie: we all feel this deep down) and it harks back to the attachment situation in your early childhood years.
So, how does this self-doubt make us more bitchy?
When we feel insecure, the most natural response is 1. defensiveness or 2. attack both of which are examples of bitchy behaviour. The behaviour is triggered by fear (the fear of not feeling worthy) and the response is a way of protecting ourselves.
Dealing with / healing our own sense of self-worth, is one of the best ways to feel more secure and less reactive and bitchy in your relationship.
How do you work on your own self-worth? Here are some ideas;
- journaling and tuning in to your inner world. This helps you build a better relationship with yourself.
- meditation. It is hard but so beneficial for building trust and comfort with who you are
- get a coach or counsellor to explore any resistance, trauma or blockages to self-worth
- do an online course such as this one
A build up of Resentment
In a long-term relationship there are so many things that can frustrate, irritate or anger you. Resentment builds when these issues are not dealt with to the point where you feel a sense of clear resolution or acceptance.
Relationships suffer (and sometimes die) from what John Gottman calls “negative sentiment override” in other words, the build-up of resentment to the point where you can no longer see the good in your partner at all - only the negative.
When we are seething with resentment, the smallest little thing, such as our partner not remembering to greet us after a long day’s work, can send us over the edge into a rage.
In other words, resentment brings out our bitch response.
Resentment is exacerbated by our unrealistic expectations. If you believe your partner "should" be doing things "right", then there are perhaps some unrealistic expectations that he is either unaware of or unwilling to take on.
So what can we do to clear our resentment;
- learn and practice the art of repair
- learn communication skills (see below) and use them at the first sign of irritation rather than letting things stew.
- take responsibility for your part in the issue.
- practice releasing activities - find a way to release the build up through activity or expression ie. scream into a pillow, boxing, running, breathwork, finger painting
- challenge your own relationship “fairytale” expectations as they are probably not working for you
Most of us are not great at dealing with conflict or having difficult conversations. In fact, a lot of the women who see me for relationship coaching need a lot of help with learning how to communicate better with their partners.
Our natural tendency is to put off communication and then blurt it out in anger
When this happens we tend to criticise or come from a place of the victim because we have left it festering for too long. Then we wonder why we don’t get the response we want from our partner!
Communication techniques are vital, yet most of us did not learn effective communication skills growing up. The good news is that they can be learnt and make a huge difference to the quality of your relationship.
What can we do to get better at communicating;
- Spend quality time talking to your partner every day. This will open the pathways for more closeness which helps the communication flow
- Pause. Stop communicating when you are triggered and emotional. Take 5 (or probably better to take 50minutes) and come back to the discussion when you have calmed down
- Prioritise. Journal out all the things you feel like you need to say to your partner and then choose the one most important issue to start with. Otherwise we tend to overwhelm our partner and ourselves and we lose the power of our point
- Learn some communication skills by seeing a relationship coach or reading books such as Non Violent communication by Marshall Rosenberg.
I hope that these reasons have given you some insight to your own bitchy behaviour. The good news is that getting cranky and even mean is quite a common response to the realities of long-term relationships. This does not mean you want to stay bitchy though! Hell no!
But here’s the thing. As you can see above, a lot of the reasons we are bitches, while they are triggered by your partner, are not your partner’s fault. This bitchy behaviour would happen with any partner you found yourself with. Which is a great realisation to have. We need to get beyond the blame and take these bitchy trigger points as invitations to grow.
- Look at the list above and choose one area that feels like a priority to focus on/ heal/ take your responsibility for. Look here if you need one-on-one help.
- Sign up for my 3 steps to stop being a bitch
- Read my previous post in the 4-part series: 10 ways you could be destroying your marriage.
- For a deeper dive, join my online workshop: "How to stop being a bitch to the one you love"