Five signs you might be married to a controlling husband
Are you concerned that your husband may be controlling? Perhaps you’ve felt this way for a long time, but have found yourself creating excuses for such behavior. Maybe you feel that it’s your fault, or that it’s just the way he is. In fact, you love him. The first step towards finding hope for a better relationship is simply recognizing and becoming aware of some of the signs. Listed below are 5 common indicators of an overbearing spouse who may be attempting to control you:
This can be threats of violence, threats of an emotional nature, or threats against oneself. While physical violence may be easily discernable, emotional abuse is often overlooked, confusing, and misjudged. Perhaps the emotional threat is to take away support or even time with children. Or maybe he uses coercion by warning that he will be unable to survive, possibly even harm himself if you were to take action. Regardless of the specific wording or threat, this behavior gives power to the controller while causing damage to the spouse.
Have you noticed a change in friendships? The controlling partner often finds ways to minimize time friends spend together. A controlled woman often begins to feel the relationship with her husband is the only relationship that matters. This works to control the manipulation of the marital relationship and leave the woman vulnerable. Frequently, other people point out the differences seen in their friends. Indications of attempts to control times with your support system include:
- Snide comments about time spent away from home
- Complaints about particular friends or family
- Confiding his perception of their bad intentions
If isolation is successful, the critical support system is severely diminished – and perhaps your confidence as well.
Guilt can come in a variety of forms. A controlling and overbearing spouse can induce guilt for spending too much time away or doing something you care about, with the justification that you must not care as much about him. This can also take the form of guilt-tripping about your need for time alone, or be participating in self-care activities. Additionally, being made to feel guilty because of clothing, diet or exercise routine can be a sign controlling behavior is underway.
Another form of guilt can come in the way of belittling. Perhaps you have begun to feel guilty for opinions, deeply held beliefs, or personality characteristics that your partner scoffs at as stupid, laughable, or just incorrect.
Alternatively, sometimes guilt is felt when a person is made to feel lesser than their spouse. When a husband constantly makes his wife feel inferior due to his emotionally manipulative jokes or constant praise of himself, this is meant to make her feel undeserving. Thus she may find herself working relentlessly towards making him happy.
Jealousy and Paranoia
While jealousy is a normal human emotion, it can become heightened and unhealthy. In controlling relationships love can become twisted into paranoia or jealous behavior, such as:
- The constant questioning of whereabouts
- Accusations of infidelity
- Controlling money
- Snooping into phone records or e-mails
- Persistently looking for indications of unfaithfulness
Feeling unimportant and unheard
When is the last time you talked to your partner about how you felt? Your opinion? Your hopes and dreams? If he is a domineering and controlling husband, you may feel like he dominates all interactions. Furthermore, attempted input or feedback is often thwarted or dismissed. Personal goals in life may also be belittled. Whether you dream of furthering your education or climbing the corporate ladder, a controlling partner will often twist this dream by making you doubt your abilities or doubt your own intentions. This serves to keep your self-confidence low and allow him the upper hand.
What Can you do if you have a controlling husband?
Start to take responsibility for your own actions, and not his. Self-esteem & mental health issues may lend to his behavior, as well as learned reactions to perceived behavior and responses. While women cannot change the guys they choose to marry, there are steps they can take to change their circumstances.
Reach out to your support network. Oftentimes, they are just waiting for that phone call. Look for signs relationships can still be recovered by initiating contact. If this seems impossible, there are often community support groups in which you can get involved to start building a network of friends. Try searching for local groups via social media or through a local church. Recognize that your feelings don’t dictate who you are. You are worthy, you are important, and you have a voice – even if that feels far from the truth. Engage in self-care and reflection to build back your self-esteem so that you can regain your voice, your values, and reclaim your decision-making.
Therapy can be a remarkably valuable way to help you sort through this process. It helps build your confidence, support your journey, and find hope while taking steps towards a more fulfilling future. For more information about my approach to working with individuals and couples in relationships see my video. I used a number of different techniques including the Gottman method when working with couples.
* This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please contact a medical professional for advice.
Image Credit – Adobe Stock
Editors Note – For more information about Susan – please see my interview with her in my Coffee with a Counselor section. – Crissy