Men, on the whole, enjoy conversations that get to the point, they say what they want to say, and move on from there. Women, enjoy painting pictures with their words, reliving events with detailed accounts, and bonding emotionally through talking to each other. We can evoke the emotions we want from others quite skillfully through our words, and with that weapon, we can motivate others to do great things, or we can cut others deeply - it all depends on the woman.
It's no wonder that aggression in women takes on a very different appearance than it does in men. Bullies in school are usually the kids that push others around, threaten physical harm, are louder, stronger and scarier. Physical aggression is not limited just to males, but much more common than in females. Guys can use their strength to demand what they want, and often do.
But female bullies exist and thrive everywhere, although they are less noticeable. From young girls in primary school to grown women in the workplace, females know that they don't need physical strength to terrorize and manipulate others - they have the power of their very extensive command of language.
Think of this scene in a marriage:
He walks in the door after a tough day at work. Overwhelmed with stress, he wants to relax in the loving atmosphere of home and family to sort through the load of problems he'll have to face tomorrow in a peaceful, logical manner.
She comes out of the kids' bathroom scowling, complaining that the sink is still leaking, and asks when he plans on fixing it.
He groans, and says, "Later, maybe tonight," which provokes a sarcastic laugh and rolling eyes of his wife.
"That's what you said two weeks ago, I've been WAITING!!!" She says with a glare, "Honestly, it seems like you don't even care about us. Do you know how high the water bill is going to be this month because you keep saying later?"
He tosses his things onto the sofa and says, "Okay, okay, I'll do it right now..."
The sink gets fixed, and the rest of the evening goes on, tense and unhappy. She's waiting for an apology. He's waiting for her to just calm down and act normal. The only conversations held are with the kids. Once they're in bed, he just wants his peace, and she is fuming at his self-centered attitude.
"Tomorrow," he thinks, "I'll find a reason to stay late at work..."
He falls to sleep knowing that she is sighing and tossing next to him. Even in her silence, she is trying to make him feel guilty, but the last thing he wants to ask is, "What's wrong?" The last time he did that, he didn't get to sleep until four in the morning, and got accused of everything under the sun, and he just can't afford more stress with the big project coming up tomorrow.
A marriage that keeps hanging on like this is a nightmare. A man who is bullied and accused on a regular basis will either walk out, lash out (and get arrested for domestic violence) or just emotionally check out of the relationship. Sure he needs to change, needs to learn how to communicate, to show he cares and all of that good stuff. But there is no safe space where he can do that. The moment he opens his mouth, he is attacked and made to feel guilty over and over again.
The bully doesn't need to be bigger, stronger or louder, just a master of control. Her superior verbal skills can dance rings around her husband's limited vocabulary. She can appear earnest, speak calmly, cry, smile sweetly, and be cruel all at the same time. In my counseling experience, it has been virtually impossible to get a woman like this to own up to her faults. Maybe for the moment, in the counseling room, but as soon as she's out the door, she's back to her old self.
She is such a master of deception, in that she deceives herself. She is totally blind to the fact that she is an aggressor. It's always his fault, or the fault of her boss, or her coworker, or whoever it is that complains about her. She is a master of excuses, and of self-righteous tears. But as right as she insists that she is, she'll most likely end up alone, and/or very unhappy.
For every woman in a relationship, take an honest look at yourself - are you a bully? For every parent of a little girl - are you raising a bully? It takes more than a superficial glance to spot one - but the frustrated relationships she leaves in her wake are a good indication.