It can harm you in multiple ways if you are with someone who constantly tries to control your life decisions. This behavior from your partner won’t always be apparent or in your face. The warning signs of a controlling husband start off as subtle. His way of manipulation isn’t necessarily aggression or physical abuse. It can be emotional manipulation guilefully wrapped with the help of lies, gaslighting, infidelity, and even financial control/infidelity.
Controlling husbands have a stockpile of tools that they use in order to control you and gain complete dominance in the relationship. We wanted to know more about such husbands, that’s why we reached out to Ridhi Golechha (M.A. Psychology), who specializes in counseling for loveless marriages, breakups, and other relationship issues. She says, “When someone feels the need to control someone both intentionally and unintentionally, it’s usually because they have been controlled all their lives.
“If your husband has a controlling behavior, then it’s safe to say that he was on the receiving end of the same behavior at some point in his life. For example, he may have had orthodox parents who superseded every aspect of his life. Your husband has inherited this toxic trait. This isn’t just self-damaging behavior, it also inflicts pain upon those he is now trying to control.”
21 Warning Signs Of A Controlling Husband
Some controlling partners are acting out of their trauma, insecurities, fear of confrontation, and emotional immaturity. Whatever the reason for their dominating behavior, it’s better to memorize the below signs because you don’t know when a relationship could turn toxic.
1. He won’t let you hang out with your friends
Ridhi says, “The controlling behavior starts obscurely. A controlling husband will occupy your entire time, leaving little to no time for you to meet your friends. A controlling partner will outright tell you he doesn’t like it when you hang out with your friends or he will say it’s okay but will act ill-tempered all day. He will purposefully throw tantrums and pick fights with you right before you head out.”
Here are some tips to identify if your husband is controlling:
- He will tell you to “have fun” but will constantly keep texting you to find out what you’re doing
- He will pick fights with you before you go out or after coming back
- He will want to know everything that went down at the party, who was present, and what you all were talking about
- He will make you feel guilty for “ditching” him and meeting your friends instead
2. A controlling husband will isolate you
He will first object to you meeting your friends, then he will throw a fit when you want to meet your family members. He will say that you meet your family too often or that you talk to your sister a lot on the phone. He will even go to the extent of saying he doesn’t like any of your friends and family members, or he’ll make up scenarios in which he felt ‘disrespected’ by them. This is one of the ways a control-freak partner tries to isolate you from your people.
Don’t let a controlling partner turn you against the ones you rely on for support. This is done to prevent you from having a support system. It’s done with the cunning notion of making you armorless. When you fall, you won’t have anyone else to pick you up except your controlling husband.
3. He will control what you wear
The whole point of dominating someone is to snatch away their basic rights, such as having an opinion or a choice. Similarly, one of the signs of a controlling husband is when he tells you what to wear and how much makeup to apply. This is cleverly done, and masked as genuine care and advice. It is one of the subtle signs he is dominating you.
A Reddit user shared their story of dealing with a controlling partner and said, “… he liked me with not that much makeup on, particularly not using eyeliner and a lot of eyeshadow. I never understood why he would demand this of me when he would make comments in front of me telling me how he was attracted to certain women and they used a lot of makeup. I guess he was trying to prevent me from attracting male attention.”
Related Reading: 20 Signs You Are In An Emotionally Abusive Relationship
4. He makes a scene when you don’t respond quickly
If your spouse is away and creates a scene when you don’t respond to his messages or calls quickly, it’s one of the signs of a narcissistic husband who likes to be in charge of the relationship. He will make you feel like he owns you by getting angry or acting extremely concerned when you don’t quickly respond to his messages. You may not figure this out yet but this is one of the signs you are dealing with an unhealthy partner.
Georgia, a recently divorced woman from California, writes to Bonobology, “I had to message him every day when I left home for work. I thought this was a sweet gesture to ensure that I reached my office safely. In retrospect, this was just to confirm what time I got to work and to ensure that I wasn’t going someplace else, like out with my friends or having an affair.”
5. Signs of a controlling husband – He is always critical of you
Ridhi says, “When criticism is chronic and frequently takes place in a relationship, it’s a sign of abuse. Your husband will be critical of everything you do. From the way you speak to your decision-making abilities, everything will be criticized to exert control in the relationship. He will deliberately put you down to make himself feel better.”
Here are some signs your partner is critical of you:
- He will constantly pick fights with you for not doing something correctly
- He lacks empathy in the relationship and never understands things from your perspective
- He will be offended when you don’t want to do the things he wants to do
- It’s always about his wants and desires
- He won’t trust you with the simplest of tasks
- He will say things like “You are not smart enough to understand this” and “You are so stupid to trust your friends so much”
6. Threatening you is part of his controlling behavior
Threatening isn’t just about giving ultimatums to end the marriage here. A controlling husband will threaten to harm himself if things don’t go according to his wishes. He will also threaten you by saying that he will cut off all the privileges he has been providing you. These are some forms of emotional manipulation that he uses to gain an upper hand in the relationship.
Ridhi says, “The reason that many women don’t leave such marriages is because they are afraid their partners would indulge in self-destructive behavior. They are also afraid of living alone, and losing their home and financial support.”
7. He doesn’t let you handle the finances
When your husband controls and looks over every penny you spend, it’s financial abuse. He will make you feel guilty for overspending and gain complete control of the finances even if it’s your hard-earned money. This is one of the alarming signs of a husband who is dominating.
Listed below are some of the signs your husband is abusing you financially:
- He asks for receipts for every single thing you buy
- He picks fights with you when you don’t consult him before spending money
- He might even commit financial infidelity. Some examples are: he could steal from you, he can hide his debts, or he can lie about using your money
- He gives you an “allowance”
- He hides his expenditure from you
8. His way of expressing love is transactional
Love is supposed to be unconditional. However, in the case of a controlling husband, he will love you only when you do something that pleases him and makes him happy. You will have to earn his love by living up to his expectations.
Here are some things a controlling partner will say that will show you his conditional or transactional love:
- “If you don’t make dinner, I won’t bother taking you out this weekend.”
- “I love you when you don’t talk back when I am angry.”
- “I have to go out with my friends. You can cancel your plans and stay home with the kids. I’ll get you your favorite ice cream on the way back.”
9. There is no sign of compromise
Jenna, a 40-year-old homemaker from Mississippi, shares, “My husband expects me to compromise every single time. Is he controlling or caring, because whenever I have to go meet my mother, he throws tantrums and complains about looking after the kids all alone? He says the kids don’t listen to him. It drives him crazy when I retaliate and tell him I take care of our kids all the time when he’s at work.”
Compromise in a marriage is one of the crucial aspects that sustains any relationship. You can develop a healthy relationship only with the help of shared compromises. When one person always ends up adjusting, it’s sacrifice. A controlling husband will make you compromise on work, household chores, and even your mental health.
10. Making all the decisions for you is one of the signs of a controlling husband
It’s not love when your opinions aren’t even considered and he goes ahead and does what he thinks is right for the both of you. This is coercion. You are supposed to be the decision-maker of your life and both the spouses in a marriage should be responsible for making decisions equally. If only one spouse takes the steering wheel, and doesn’t let you touch it, this is controlling behavior.
Here are some subtle signs your partner is making all the decisions for you:
- He orders without asking what you’d like to eat
- He makes dinner plans without checking your availability
- He will always control what movies you watch and what kind of dresses you wear
11. He plays the blame game
Ridhi says, “One of the signs of a domineering husband is his inability to take responsibility for his actions. He will never accept his wrongdoings and will end up blaming you for everything. He will even blame you for making him react in a certain way. When you confront him with something, he will somehow turn the tables on you and make it look like it’s all your fault.”
When a person doesn’t take ownership of their shortcomings and ends up playing the blame game, it’s a major red flag. They are not mature enough and can’t handle relationships the right way. Here are some things a partner who can’t take responsibility of their wrongdoings will say while blame-shifting in a relationship:
- “You’ve made me late for my meeting. If you had ironed my clothes already, I could have saved so much time.”
- “Can’t believe you’re bringing up this issue when we were having such a good time. You just don’t care about us, do you?”
- “I said hurtful things because you made me react this way. Why did you have to start a fight? If you can’t take it, then don’t crib about it either.”
12. He controls the way you portray yourselves as a couple
He isn’t just controlling behind closed doors but he will also control you when you’re in a public setting. If he wants you both to appear as a happy, loving couple, he’ll hold you and kiss you when people are around. When he is not in the mood and wants to keep some distance, he will make sure the two of you don’t have any kind of physical/emotional connection at all. He gets to decide either way.
Some of the other things he could control are:
- He will tell you how much to drink
- He’ll tell you who to mingle with and whom you need to ignore when he’s with you
- In extreme cases, he won’t even let you go to parties with him
- At a party, he might ask you to smile/laugh more or less depending on his mood
13. He will love bomb you
Some of the love bombing techniques include:
- He will buy extravagant gifts
- He won’t stop complimenting you
- He convinces you that you’re the best person he has ever been with
- He gets upset when you want to have some privacy or alone time
- He is needy and clingy
Love bombing is one of the cunning techniques a controlling person uses to make the partner feel indebted to them by their actions. Let’s say your husband bought you an expensive gift. However, he doesn’t make you feel like this is a gift. He will keep reminding you of this gesture in order to make you feel like you owe him something.
14. A controlling husband has trust issues
Ridhi says, “Is he controlling or caring? It’s always the former when a controlling husband wants to know everything you’re doing because he thinks that he has the right to know everything that’s happening in your life.” He will spy, snoop, and stick his nose in your business. He will check your phone constantly to see if you are being disloyal.
When you catch him prying or going through your phone, he will say things like “Why are you getting mad if you’re not doing anything wrong?” or “You seem to be offended that I checked your phone. Are you doing something that you shouldn’t be doing?”
Related Reading: 13 Signs He Disrespects You And Does Not Deserve You
15. He doesn’t believe in healthy boundaries
Healthy boundaries are essential for a person’s mental well-being. It’s okay to draw boundaries and do things on your own without relying on your partner or doing everything together. There are some things you might enjoy but your partner doesn’t, and that’s normal.
Here are some signs your partner doesn’t like such healthy boundaries and hates the idea of personal space:
- He makes you feel guilty for spending time alone
- You have to keep resetting the boundaries according to his likes and wishes
- He will accuse you of being selfish and not loving him enough to be with him all the time
- He will make you look like a bad person for enjoying some quality time on your own
- He pressures you to get rid of your privacy and boundaries
- He asks you for something (intimacy, sex, favor, going out for dinner, etc.) in return every time you assert a boundary — your boundaries start to cost you
16. He is jealous
Little acts of jealousy are cute when you’re falling in love. However, it’s unhealthy when your partner is constantly jealous of the people you hang out with or is jealous of your career growth. When his jealousy is intense and obsessive, it’s one of the signs of a controlling husband. This has nothing to do with you but with his insecure nature.
Some of the signs of jealousy in a relationship include:
- He will question your friendship with other people
- He won’t see your polite nature as good manners and will accuse you of being flirtatious or leading someone on
- He will accuse you of infidelity
- He will make you explain yourself if you went out with someone he doesn’t know or doesn’t approve of
- He will dismiss your professional accomplishments or not be part of your celebrations
17. He will try to invalidate your feelings
Validation is one of the most important aspects of romantic interactions. You don’t even have to agree with your partner. You just have to sit there and listen without interrupting or judging. It’s an expression of acceptance and giving someone the confidence that they have the right to feel however they want.
On the flip side, when your husband invalidates your feelings in all situations, he is trying to control your emotions as well. He will dismiss the way you feel and think. He will make you feel like your feelings are silly, unacceptable, trivial, and wrong. This invalidation is bound to give you emotional trauma.
18. You don’t feel seen and heard
Ridhi says, “When you feel like you are seen and heard in a marriage, it gives you a sense of emotional safety. You feel like he’s there for you when he listens to all your troubles and woes. However, when your partner is self-centered, he will often zone out when you’re sharing your innermost thoughts and desires. He says he understands you but his words don’t align with his actions.”
There isn’t enough space for you to reveal your opinions. And when you do get the chance to speak your heart out, you feel like you aren’t heard. If your partner doesn’t even make an attempt to understand what you’re saying, it’s one of the signs of a controlling husband.
19. He will make you feel guilty
When guilt is used as a weapon against someone, it can severely impact their mental health. A controlling husband will always use guilt to dominate his spouse. He will make you feel guilty for everything wrong that’s happening in not just your life, but also in the relationship and in his life. Guilt-tripping is a form of abuse and here are some things a controlling partner will tell you to make you feel guilty:
- “I was late for work because you woke up late.”
- “I forgot to buy groceries because you didn’t remind me to buy them.”
- “You didn’t do the laundry again. It’s because of you I have to repeat my outfit.”
20. He will make you feel like you are unworthy of his love
In this marriage, he is the king and you are his slave. You will have to tirelessly please him to earn his love and attention. By constantly making you feel like you don’t deserve him, he is trying to create a situation where you have to work harder to achieve his approval. Only when you receive his approval, will he love you.
Some of the signs he thinks you are unworthy of his love include:
- He will make you feel less attractive and deem you as unworthy of being his wife
- He will rub his professional achievements in your face and will make you feel bad about your failures
- He will compare you to his exes
Related Reading: Verbal Abuse In Relationships: Signs, Effects And How To Cope
21. He will control bedroom activities as well
From when you have sex to how you have sex, he will control every aspect of physical intimacy. When you refuse to have sex or say you’re too tired, he will make you feel guilty for this as well. So, you end up having mercy sex just to get on his good side or to avoid arguments and fights.
Ridhi adds, “One of the signs of a controlling husband includes him getting upset over sexual rejection. He will make you feel bad for holding your sexual boundary. He will emotionally distance himself from you and you will end up walking on eggshells around him. This can end up in lies, dishonesty, and even betrayal from either or both the partners.”
How Does Having A Controlling Husband Impact You?
When a partner controls you emotionally, it won’t take long for the relationship to turn violent. Some of the signs your relationship is turning abusive include:
- He isolates you from your loved ones
- He checks your phone and keeps a tab on who you meet and who you talk to
- He bursts into anger and yells at you without any reason
- He throws things at you
- He controls your finances
- He abuses you verbally, demeans you emotionally, or has physically/sexually abused you at least once
Needless to say, such situations are extremely unhealthy or even dangerous for you. Ridhi adds, “Having a control-freak partner can impact you in tons of ways. Firstly, you lose the autonomy of being yourself.”
Some of the other things that happen when you’re married to a controlling person include:
- You stop having your own personality
- You develop a codependent relationship which is very unhealthy
- You stop addressing your feelings, fearing disapproval and disappointment from your husband
- You will bottle things up until you explode one day
- You will feel trapped in your marriage which will make you feel small. It will make you feel as if you’re living in a prison
- Your mental health and self-esteem are ruined and you won’t be able to think straight
- You stop trusting yourself and your instincts
- You’re always anxious, your body constantly in freeze, fight, or flight mode
- The power imbalance will make you submit yourself and have no say in your life
How To Deal With A Controlling Husband
If you’ve noticed even a few signs of a controlling husband, it’s best to address this issue as soon as possible. The longer you prolong, the more it will trap you and drag you through the mud. Here are some ways to deal with controlling husbands:
- Stay calm: When you are aware of having a controlling partner, there are chances you will blast at him for trying to control you. Stay calm and ask what’s bothering him. If he blames you for everything, don’t react at that moment
- React when he is in a good mood: Wait for the right time to broach this subject. Ask him the reason behind his controlling nature. Is it because of childhood trauma or because of his insecurities? Address them the right way, slowly
- Seek professional help: If this abuse has created major problems in your life, it’s best to seek professional help. At Bonobology, we offer professional help through our panel of licensed advisors who can help you and your controlling husband embark on a path toward recovery
- Take back the control: You lost control once. Now that you know what went wrong, get in the front seat again and snatch your life’s remote control from his hands. If he still mopes over this or tries to make you feel guilty, don’t succumb to his childish behavior. Be strong and don’t fall for his schemes
- Draw boundaries: Yes, establish boundaries regardless of how this affects your husband. Enjoy your alone time and privacy. Tell him he is not allowed to check your phone. He needs to learn how to trust a partner without you having to prove yourself constantly
- Keep your support system intact: Don’t let him isolate you. You can’t survive with just your husband in this world. You need your parents, siblings, and friends to live a healthy life. Meet the ones you trust and who empower you often, and share your problems with them
- A controlling husband will accuse you of cheating on him and observe your every move
- He will make you feel guilty for anything you do that goes against his wishes and demands
- Having a controlling husband can seriously impact your mental health. It will make you feel scared and suffocated
- One of the ways to deal with a controlling partner is by confronting them when there’s no danger, by establishing boundaries, and by seeking outside help
When you feel like he can’t be changed or when things are getting out of hand, it’s best to end your marriage. Nothing can justify his emotional violence, infidelity, or gaslighting. Your mental health should be your number one priority. Exit the relationship by standing up for yourself. You deserve to feel free irrespective of your relationship status.
The characteristics of a controlling husband include him being overly critical of you, judging you for your life choices, and monitoring your expenses. A controlling husband will also isolate you from your loved ones. He will make you dependent on him in order to gain complete control over you and the relationship.
You can find out if your husband is trying to control you by carefully analyzing all the red flags. His jealousy, obsessive nature, and trust issues are major problems. You can also identify his controlling nature by seeing how he reacts when you do/say something against his wishes/opinions.