Husband is controlling


Hi all,

I am rather frustrated. I feel that my husband is very controlling, but it seems there is no easy way for me to tell him so that he can understand the effects it has on me. His controlling behavior roots from good intentions. He truly wants the best for me, so when he sees that I am doing something that is preventing me from being the best possible “version of me” he will speak up and sometimes try to MAKE me do something “the right way”.

I absolutely hate this and it makes me feel like a child. When we first got married I felt that I couldn’t do anything on my own without his approval and/or help and it took me a long time to find myself again.

I’ve told him that if he wants me to change the absolute worst thing he can do is to constantly tell me what I am doing wrong and how I can do it “better”.

Has anyone else worked through something similar?

My husband and I talk about this a lot. But I feel that I haven’t really been able to convince him that what he is doing isn’t healthy.


Hi ArtofChrist…I’m sorry you’re going through this right now. I’m hopeful that this will be temporary, but I will say that I dated a very controlling man before my husband, and obviously it didn’t get better, we didn’t stay together because of it.

I think that it is great that you and your husband are speaking about this…Controlling people, at first, tend to appear like they are being helpful, but really, they are wanting to control the other person–and that, like it’s doing to you, makes you feel like you are inadequate. Your husband does not need to be correcting you–he needs to love you for who you are as his wife. With little to go on, he could be truly trying to be helpful, but on the other hand–he may expect you to be the ‘perfect’ wife, and there is no such thing as a perfect anyone.

I would encourage counseling, if it doesn’t subside. If it gets worse, I would insist on it, because controlling behavior can sometimes borderline verbal/emotional abuse. It doesn’t sound like your situation is there…and hopefully, through counseling, your husband will see that his criticism of you, is not helping, but rather hurting you.

I will keep you both in my prayers…good luck with counseling! ((hugs))


I was married to a controlling man for 19 years. It took me that long to realize it wasn’t right. Now he is someone elses problem.


Yes, he even used to check my underwear drawer to ensure I’d folded everything neatly enough, and if I folded the towels well enough in the linen closet! He doesn’t any longer, as we approach 40 years of marriage.

If you persevere as patiently as you can with your resurrected sense of self, then gradually, hopefully, he will learn to be more respectful of who you actually are. You…as one does when one is consumingly admiring of a strong partner…enforced and affirmed his behaviour in controlling you by being submissive for what you call “a long time”. re-education may take a while, but you know what! He may find the change in your attitude scary and so step up his efforts to pull you back into the place he’s comfortable for you to be. I was scared of my husband for the first 15 years, and I remember he didn’t like it when I began to change. I am a caring, fairly gentle person as you most likely are.

My husband never succeeded in making me the best me, because I am who I am, and though I’ve worked hard to be good and to do things well, I’ll never be perfect. My husband now sometimes corrects me with friendly humour, and that is bearable. The other kind can make one feel resentful. It can crush one’s spirit.

Your husband wants you to be the best you. In trying to **make **you become that, he’s not giving you the best love, of course he loves you, but the kind of love he’s going with is somewhat conditional, and you have the right to unconditional love, love that accepts you as and for who you are. Then you can flourish and be the best you that you can manage to be. I say ‘manage to be’, deliberately.

You are not your husband’s creation, you are God’s, but I hope and pray that your loved and loving husband and you, do work this out, and that your marriage will always be God’s loving creative witness.


He is a different breed of controller. He’s kind, he’s a good listener, he never verbally or emotionally abuses me. Overall he treats me very well.

He has gotten better. But the times where a situation arises I can’t help but feel trapped. Like I can’t make my own choices.

He is an engineer. When he explains things it is precise detail (and most times I feel that he is wasting his breathe because I never understand the way that he explains things) so much that he sometimes doesn’t understand the simplest of things. This makes it hard for me to help him understand the impact it has on me. It can never just be a simple explanation.

Anyways ~ I guess I need help explaining it to him. Or maybe we do need counseling, maybe he needs to hear from someone else. I don’t know…


Yes, now that you post more…it seems like he might feel this is his role…and in the way he thinks, analytically…he feels that this transfers over to all aspects of his life, even with you, his wife. I don’t think counseling could hurt. If anything, sometimes an objective source sort of listening and encouraging two people to speak to one another differently, can help situations like this. But, most likely, this is his personality style…analytical, and he will have to learn an additional way of communicating, that’s all. Continue to share your thoughts with him…and hopefully, over time, it will change.


I would argue that even God, who has the ultimate authority over us, does not try to force us to change. He makes suggestions and lets us exercise our free will. Why? God knows that obedience and love that is coerced is not real.


My husband used to be pretty controlling, and there are times, after 22 years of marriage, that he still is. For instance, when we all wash dishes we have to do it HIS way. Other things around the house have to be done his way.
Most of the time I don’t mind: if he wants things a certain way and it makes him happy AND there is a good reason for what he wants, we’ll do it his way.
Other times, I’ll refuse, but in a very kind way; i.e., “I don’t really want to do it that way” and he’ll explain his reasons again and I will repeat calmly, “I don’t want to do it that way.” Sometimes it takes a while, and a lot of patience, to get him to realize that not everything is done his way.
Again, my husband is very mathematical and also a lot older than I am, and I think that contributes to his idea that things should be done HIS way.
Try a lot of humor. That works for me very well!!!:smiley:


Thank you for this. Your wisdom has been helpful :slight_smile:

In the end, I just feel that God has given me my free will and my DH in a sense has taken it (at least parts of it).

To make the right choices exercising your free will is very rewarding. To not even have the freedom to freely exercise your free will is bondage.




:smiley: Oh, honey, now I get it. My father, my ex, and most of my friends are engineers. I’m whole-brained so I can “walk the line” most of the time. My mother is right-brained and, while their marriage is awesome and loving, she has had 46 years of frustration from my father on the “control” count.

God bless them, they are bright people but they CAN lack a little in the social department. (not all engineers, but many, IMO) Your hubby might not even realize why this bothers you. He knows the right way and he’s just trying to help you and save you frustration, after all! :wink:

He’s probably not ever going to stop the control thing. But you can explain what hurts you and ask him not to do it. And then remind him when he does it. I grew up listening to those type of discussions.

And as I’m sure you know, presenting an emotional argument can backfire. Keep it simple and logical. “XYZ hurts my feelings, please try not to say that. Now, if you’d like the dishwasher fixed your way, please get the right tools and do it.”

And be prepared to say that THOUSANDS of times!


You might be interested in visiting Dr. Harley has a book outlining what he calls “lovebusters.” One of them is “Disrespectful Judgments.” Your hubby might gain insight on the topic, and the book includes helpful exercises to practice getting rid of this lovebuster.


That’s precisely it, and that’s also why it’s so hard to get him to see that what he is doing isn’t the best!

He’s probably not ever going to stop the control thing. But you can explain what hurts you and ask him not to do it. And then remind him when he does it. I grew up listening to those type of discussions.

And as I’m sure you know, presenting an emotional argument can backfire. Keep it simple and logical. “XYZ hurts my feelings, please try not to say that. Now, if you’d like the dishwasher fixed your way, please get the right tools and do it.”

And be prepared to say that THOUSANDS of times!

Sounds like how I respond to him could save a lot of heartache!

I have realized now, through your post, that it’s not all about getting him to change his control issue. After all, I am not happy with him trying to change me.

It’s all in the reaction. It’s all in what you do with the situation. It’s not the cards you were dealt, it’s what you do with them.

Thank you.

This reminds me that the only time real change occurs is when you change YOURSELF!


Reading through everyone’s posts, and seeing the compassionate, progressive wisdom and sharing, leading to enlightened understanding…once again, I just felt awe, totally awed!

God bless CAF and those who began and maintain it, and all who question and contribute in it’s Forums!


OP…I hear ya.

Telling him it hurts your feelings probably won’t help, since analytical minds have trouble with “EMOTION”. My DH and my son butt heads alot. But not with me. My DH is a pull yourself up from your bootstraps blue collar guy…my son is HFA 24 yr old engineering student. And they fight for control worse than our polititicians. My husband is a “doer” and my son is a"thinker". They clash.

My husband thinks my son is a “know all it” controller. My son thinks my husband is a “know all big mouth” controller.

I have explained to them both…it’s not control…it is “how each one of the thinks”.

My husband wants our son to know how to build a house from the ground up and put a car back together…my son can do those things, but they are aren’t on his A list. My son wants his dad to appreciate his intelligence and accept the fact that a cubicle is where he will make his living vs. riviting sheet metal in a hangar 8 hours a day.

TO OP…your husband doesn’t understand emotion and thinks that you put to much “though” and "feelings’ into everything including everyday tasks…where as for him…the straightest way is the easy way.

Most engineers you will find are that way. They don’t light up a room when they walk into it and would rather spend a quiet evening at home vs. a big party somewhere.

You are not his child, nor are you his mother. It is easy to become the latter. I have repeatly told my son…do not expect a future wife to do anything like I do…let her run your house as both of you see fit.

Approach is corrections from a different stand point other than emotion. Just say…as another poster recommended…“I’m going to do it this way”…and stop…say no more. If he wants to be “Monk” and go back and change it…hey less work for you.

If he yells at you or belittles you…then we have another problem. If you have a job…great…if you don’t…get one. Not for him…for you.


You’re absolutely right, all you can ever control is yourself. :slight_smile: How annoying!

It’s funny because Mom and I just had a conversation about this…how she will mention to Dad that she’s doing a project and he’ll say “well, you have 3 options, you can do this, this, or that”. Mom’s creative…she’ll respond by doing option #85 most of the time.

And when Dad does something she KNOWS is not the best way, she’s learned to pick her battles. Like, if it’s the dishes or something in the garage, she lets it go. If he screws it up, engineers are usually pretty good at admitting their mistakes and doing it again, because, after all, it’s not an “emotional” thing. Now, if he wants to rip out all the yard and put concrete instead, that’s when she speaks up!


True, you can’t change anyone else, only how you react to them. Frustrating but true. Usually when you react differently, they change. :shrug:


Broadly similar. And I’m the engineer! I don’t need to be in control, and I’m good at teamwork, but when a task/problem is my responsibility, respectful assistance is welcome but interference, micro-management and take-over merchants are not.

I married young, with a large age gap, and while suffering depression. Having irrational + overbearing and rational + borderline overbearing parents, a spouse with take-over tendencies, surrounded by uni students who elbowed me out in labs and well-meaning bosses/co-workers who snatched things away to do them for me everytime I’d pause for thought … I had boundary issues with EVERYBODY. :mad: :stuck_out_tongue:

I couldn’t articulate this to fiancé/spouse. Feeling pressured to deal with depression & other problems “his” way didn’t help. (Maybe he felt being older made him wiser, but honestly, someone who comprehensively failed 1st year maths twice 20 years prior shouldn’t tell an engineering student how to study advanced calculus, fer pete’s sake! :o And pressure over how to cope with my illness just made me sicker.) He was/is a good man but when I said, “your ‘help’ is not helping, I need XYZ right now, ABC makes things worse”, he didn’t listen. And I’d only just escaped 17 years of having a parent’s completely inapplicable world view imposed on me in every way possible (the cause of my crash into depression).

Other people’s working methods may suit them but only I can discern whether they are productive for me. Well-meant interference is worse than hostile interference - you feel guilty about resenting those who care about you, which can cloud your perception. It slowed my recovery considerably - a psychiatrist asked me whether family/bf were making things worse and I reacted badly - of course not, they’re all helping because they love me! It’s OK to recognise that well-meant interference is still interference, and that interference is inappropriate even when practised by people who love you.

Counselling (even just for yourself) might be productive, because a counsellor might help you pinpoint and find words for what you’re trying to say. I didn’t have the words and concepts to deal with it - all I had to defend myself with was an angry “back off” when I could take no more, but I couldn’t tell them what they were supposed to “back off” from.

Eventually I could say to spouse & others: “When I pause mid-task, or comment that something is difficult or confusing, it does NOT mean I don’t know what I’m doing. It is NOT a roundabout request to be “rescued”. It means I am thinking, and sharing my thoughts with you. If I want help, I will directly and unambiguously request it. If you offer help, that’s kind, but if you take things out of my hands you are overstepping the mark and presuming to take control of my affairs without permission. The message I will take from that is that you judge me incompetent. You are taking it upon yourself to step in and take control of something that is not yours to control unless and until I give you control.”

Once armed with the words, rinse and repeat, quietly but firmly. Don’t back down. You’re under no obligation to keep explaining forever, either. You should tell people why you’re asking them to quit certain behaviour, but after that, refuse to argue. “We’ve been over that. Nothing’s changed. X is unacceptable. It stops or I remove myself from the situation.” Your boundaries are NOT conditional on anyone else’s understanding, approval or agreement. DH, who sounds like a reasonable man, will at best learn to understand and at worst “twig” that life is just simpler if he stops pressing that button. :wink:

It took 6-7 years of marriage to learn to stand up for myself rather than bottling and periodically exploding. 20+ years on, I don’t think H understands or “respects” it, but he knows certain behaviour means that I and the task in question both disappear and only return when it’s an interfence-free zone. We work well side-by-side most of the time, and I recognise his need to “put his thumbprints” on things. It can even be mildly endearing … but there’s still the occasional white-hot conflagration. He in turn must recognise that taking inappropriate control (especially of things in which I have professional experience and he has none at all, which never goes down well with an engineer) insults and belittles me. He doesn’t get it but know’s life’s quieter when he “doesn’t go there”. I’d rather he got it, but I’m not bugged one tenth as often as before, and that beats the alternative. :smiley:


Prayers for you and your hubby OP.

My FI isn’t in the controlling/suggesting type of personality, he’s more of a listening/stay cool calm and quiet personality (which can still pose it’s challenges sometimes), so I can’t completely relate to you. BUT our situations are similar in that sometimes I don’t do things or act in ways that he thinks are the most logical and rational. He’ll suggest that I do ABC instead or to not do XYZ to save myself frustration.

Sometimes I take his advice because it is helpful but other times I say, “I just don’t work that way.” “I don’t do things that way.” or “That’s how you would do it, but I’m going to do it my way instead.” smile sweetly

That really can put suggestions to a halt. I mean, how can he argue with that? He can give you explanations that shoot down your arguements hand down, BUT if you don’t give an arguement, then he doesn’t have anything to work with.

be warned: giving him a non-arguement rejoinder like, “This is just how I am” or “Yeah you may be right but I’m going to do things my way” will more than likely give your hubby more than a few grey hairs. :smiley:

I’ve already given my FI more than a few grey hairs and we’re not even married yet :smiley:


Took the words right out of my mouth!

Isn’t there a verse in 1 Corinthinas that says, “Love does not micromanage??” Well, maybe not, but I’m quite sure it’s there if you read between the lines.

I was raised by a loving father who had this same irritating, and sometimes rage-inspiring tendency. He is now 79 years old and still does it to my mother on a daily basis, but not so much to me, since I stopped paying him heed in that area when I moved off to college. It’s not that I don’t respect my father, but I recognize my responsibility to perfect myself in the areas that the Holy Spirit brings to my attention, and that’s hard to do when you’re fine-tuning someone else’s pet peeve.

I believe it was the psychologist Eric Burns (sp) who proposed the theory of the three ego states: Adult, Child, Parent, and believed that at all times we are in one state or another. The problem with people like my dad and your husband is that they try to parent people to death, even out of the best intentions. An adult would not presume to tell another adult to correct his posture or language, but a parent has no trouble dictating minutia. What they do have trouble with is realizing that they are talking to adults, not children.

The other unfortunate tenet you may have to deal with is that people with large “parent” egos often attract spouses with more submissive ones. Did you (or someone else) say that you were afraid of your husband for so many years? A healthy person in an “adult” ego state is not afraid of a “parent,” but bothered by the other person’s desire to control them. But people with little sense of control are often drawn to these more commanding, “in-charge” types, because of the sense of security they can provide.

What I recommend is kindly to explain to him that you wish to be his wife, not his child, and that you don’t mind “obeying” in the traditional, God-given sense, but you wish to be honored in your capability to handle your own personal details. He will take this news however he will, and then you have to stop responding to his orders. As my favorite therapist put it, the two of you have been dancing, and you’ve got to stop doing your part of the dance.

It all takes time, but he loves you, and you can work through this. Peace and patience be with you!


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