7 Ways to Support a Spouse Who Is Bullied at Work

Tips on what you can do to help your spouse cope with bullying


It is hard on the family when a spouse is being bullied at work. You notice all types of changes at home. For instance, he may seem depressed, complain of headaches, sleep a lot and miss dinner. He also may get angry easier or withdraw completely. You want to help him, but you are not sure what you should do.

Fortunately, you do not have to take on the role of counselor to support your spouse. There are simple things you can do that will let him know that you not only care about him but you also will be there for him as he works to find a solution.

Here are seven ways you can support a spouse that is experiencing workplace bullying.

Be supportive. Listen when your spouse talks about his bullying boss or coworkers without interrupting or offering advice. Keep in mind that it may be very hard for her to talk about the bullying. Bullying often leaves victims feeling humiliated, ashamed and embarrassed. So be patient, encouraging and loving. Avoid asking what he did to cause the bullying. Instead, validate his thoughts and feelings. Also don’t blame your spouse by suggesting that it is his fault or that he needs to change. Instead, point out that no one deserves to be bullied. Remind your spouse that bullying is a choice and that the bully is completely responsible.

Communicate your concern. Be honest with your spouse. Tell him about the times when you are worried about him. For instance, if he is acting depressed encourage him to see a physician for an evaluation.

Or, if he is not eating or sleeping, express your concern. Let him know that you want him to stay healthy and take care of himself. The effects of workplace bullying are significant and can be long-term. So it is not a situation that should be ignored. Be sure your spouse knows that you want to help and encourage him to see a counselor if the workplace bullying is ongoing.

Brainstorm together. Discuss ways that your spouse can cope with workplace bullying. Also talk about steps he can take to report workplace bullying. If the bullying involves sexual harassment or cyberstalking, these may be against the law.  You also should discuss the option of finding another job. If your spouse chooses to confront a bullying boss, he must be willing to accept the consequences, which could mean termination. The goal is to empower your spouse to think through his options and come up with a plan. Anxiety and stress are greatly reduced when victims of bullying feel like they are taking back some control in their lives and doing something about the bullying.

Respect your spouse’s privacy. One of the worst things you could do is post information about the bullying on social media or gossip about the issues with your friends or co-workers. Doing something like this only exacerbates the pain and humiliation your spouse is feeling. If you feel you really need to talk with someone about what is going on at home, discuss the possibility of seeing a counselor.

Or, tell your spouse that you want to talk with a family member or a close friend about the incidents.

Suggest a night out. Sometimes the best medicine in the world is a night out where your spouse can take his mind off the situation. Offer to go to a movie, attend a concert or get tickets to a sporting event. Even going to the park or exercising together are good options. The goal is to spend time together doing something fun rather than dwelling on the bullying he is experiencing.

Remember you cannot fix this. While it is important to support your spouse through the bullying experience, it is also important that you realize you cannot fix this problem for him. He needs to recognize what he can control and what he cannot control at work and then set some goals. You want to be there for your spouse, but you cannot let this situation consume you. You still need to take care of yourself and your family.

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