Having a controlling spouse can make your life a constant battle and turn everyday events and conversations into anxiety-filled nightmares. Not only is a controlling spouse manipulative and in most cases, jealous; they can also be verbally abusive or downright mean. If you’re unsure whether your husband is acting like a control freak, we’ve put together this comprehensive guide to the five signs that he’s probably controlling. If he meets one or more of these criteria, you may want to take a second look at his behavior.
Imagine the following scenario and think about whether it sounds familiar or not: You get invited to a work outing with some of your colleagues. You’re headed to a local bar for karaoke night, and there will be guys from the office heading there as well. When you tell your husband about the event, his mood immediately turns sour, and the questions begin. He’ll probably ask something along the lines of:
- Whos’ going to be there?
- What time are you coming home?
- What’s the address of the bar?
- You’re going to call me while you’re there, right?
- Is Jason from accounting going?
- You’re not going to invite me?
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re probably dealing with someone who’s controlling. The “controlling” aspect of this questioning isn’t the normal spousal questions like “when will you be home?”, but rather questions like “you’re not going to invite me?” This question in itself creates a guilt trip, which is a dangerously manipulative practice used by controlling and narcissistic people.
A controlling husband is usually an insecure one, and this insecurity can manifest itself in the form of extreme jealousy toward any man in your life that’s not him. Even family members aren’t safe from his jealousy, as he views you as his personal property and does not want to be subjected to sharing your time with anyone else. If you have male friends, he’ll likely have issues with you seeing or spending time with them, and if you talk too much about a certain guy at work, it’s likely to cause an argument. If you visit your male family members too much, he may feel you’re giving away too much of your time to other men and become agitated.
While this may seem like an extreme, think back on the times you’ve talked about or visited with other males in your life. Did your husband become visibly agitated or start making crude remarks? Did he demand or suggest that you spend less time with these men? Do you feel like you need permission to talk to or hang out with any other man in your life? These are usually good signs that your husband is controlling.
Walking on eggshells as it’s called, is a form of subservient behavior in order to keep your husband happy. If you feel like everything you do causes your husband to become angry or irritated, you’re going to be stressed out on a daily basis. This can develop into extreme anxiety or even depression given enough time. When nothing you do is good enough, no amount of love or care seems to please him, and your mistakes are met with the harshest reprimands, there’s simply no pleasing him.
If everything you do is a mistake, you’re most likely dealing with a controlling spouse. Controlling people use other’s mistakes as fodder for their own insecurities; something at some point in their life was out of control, so they’re using their own manipulative power in adulthood to control everything; even your emotions and feelings.
The common thought when the word threat is said is one of physical violence; threatening to hit or otherwise harm a person in a physical way. Though some spouses certainly use the threat of physical violence as a control mechanism, not all threats have to be physical in nature to be considered controlling and dangerous. For instance, if your spouse constantly threatens to leave you, damage your finances or reputation, stop having sex with you, or any other act of emotional manipulation, you’ll want to take a closer look at the situation.
Controlling people use emotional manipulation such as this to get exactly what they want. “If you don’t stop seeing him, I’ll leave you” is a perfect example of this behavior.
A favorite tactic of controlling husbands/spouses is to hold a grudge or keep a tally of past insults or transgressions. This can include even the smallest things like missing a date, not paying a bill, or simply forgetting to turn off a light. Controlling spouses use grudges to keep you in check; just when you think you’re doing well, you’ll be reminded of the time you left the water running for three hours; and your emotional walls begin to crumble after enough time. Constant belittling and reminders of the past do nobody any good, and can only increase your level of anxiety and stress.