Help With A Controlling Husband Or Wife

Help with a controlling spouse article graphic (7)

Help with a controlling spouse article graphic

She could not look people in the eye as they greeted her. Head down, shoulders slumped; she headed to the nearest open seat and quietly slid into it. Her husband was a study in contrast. Confident, gregarious, he firmly shook hands and made polite small talk before striding over to sit beside his wife.

Years before she had been a decorated officer in the military. A leader of men and women. Shrinking violets do not earn those positions, so it was obvious the woman in that seat was only a shell of the woman she used to be. When anyone tried talking with her, she clasped her purse to her chest with both arms, glancing up only occasionally. If asked a question, she spoke briefly and timidly.

Abused? Yes, but perhaps not in the way you think.

Her husband had never hit her or used his physical presence to intimidate her. No spousal rape or sexual domination. In fact, he had no idea that he abused her at all. He considered himself a good man that would never be so evil as to harm a woman. In fact, he was the type that would go to the defense of any woman being threatened physically.

More than that, he seemed not to notice his wife’s public timidity. His view was that she could hold her own and gave as well, if not better, than she got when they clashed. When she argued with him via email, she was forceful, angry, and articulate. She did the same aloud when they were alone. He held that perception of her to the degree that the behavior others saw seemed not to register with him. He saw a brawling, selfish witch. Others saw a frightened woman drowning in her own lack of confidence and esteem.

When the subject of controlling relationships came up, he was quick to tell how controlling his wife was. Not unusual: Often the person who is the most controlling is the one who feels the most controlled.

When he finally understood that the bulk of their problem was his behavior as a controlling husband, he reacted first with anger, then regret, and finally genuine change. Their relationship changed in a matter of three days and the change is still in effect nearly three years later.

What Is Control?

People crave respect. They want to be accepted for who they are in reality, rather than having to pretend to meet someone else’s criteria. When treated as an inferior, they react badly. When they feel they have to pretend, living as a picture of what another wants rather than as the person they actually are, they slowly dissolve their own identity. Some become lost and never rediscover who they were. Others deteriorate for a while, but eventually hit a point of frustration that leads to defiance, anger, and rebellion. Yet others live between those extremes.

Picture the lion or tiger in a cage snarling and slapping at the tamer making them jump through hoops and put on a show. They show their anger, but ultimately comply because they do not wish to receive punishment, and they enjoy receiving reward. The award is not equal to the freedom they once had, but over time they submit themselves to captivity and the morsels handed by the one who controls them. The whip hurts; the morsels are tasty; compliance results. At least for some of the big cats. Others likely never yield to the control of the tamer. Maybe others do for a while, but finally have enough and fight back.

Though the illustration may miss the mark a place or two in actual lion taming, the idea makes clear how some marriages or relationships work. One person (man or woman) tries to make the other do, think, or feel a certain way, rather than accepting the natural differences that exist in individuals.

If their partner does not act as they wish, they bring about some type of punishment. It does not have to be physical. It can be emotional, mental, financial, sexual, or more. When the other person complies, a morsel of enjoyment comes their way, perhaps by the opposite of the method used to punish. For example, a woman may try to control her husband by withholding sexual favor when he does not do as she wishes, and giving him sexual pleasure when he does. A man may try to control his wife by controlling the finances in the home, punishing and rewarding based on whether she ignores or complies with his wishes.

The control may apply to more than action. Some individuals bicker and argue until their lover gives in and agrees to some point of thought. They think they won the argument; the yielding lover did not give in, they gave up. Ending the pain of the argument became more important than defending their thoughts or beliefs. The controlling spouse feels good that the other finally saw the light. The controlled spouse feels resentment.

Often the control applies even to emotions. The controller forces the controlled to claim an emotion that the controller wants, rather than the honest emotion that the controlled actually feels. In those relationships, “I love you” from the controlled may be a statement to avoid pain and get a morsel of reward rather than a declaration of actual sentiment.

Who Is the Controller?

One reason that controlling people often claim that they are controlled is that when they do not get what they want, they blame the other person. If he wants more lovemaking and she does not provide it, he views her as controlling him through sex and that may be the case. However, the difference in one who really is a controller and one who is being controlled is whether one allows the other to be who he or she truly is.

In the story that began this article, the husband controlled. He had so beaten his wife down with his arguing, intensity, and sense of self-righteousness that she had long since come to believe herself invalid. The reason they came to us for help was that she had finally reached a point of absolute rebellion. That is why she fought so hard in emails and when just the two of them were alone. However, her sense of inferiority developed from being corrected, cajoled, and coerced over the years made her doubt herself. Therefore, in public, she was a docile, fearful individual who could not look other people in the eye. She could fight him in private because she was full of resentment, but inside she feared that she really was inferior. Because of that low self-esteem, if there was anyone else in the room, she cowered. She was terrified that others would validate his superiority and her inferiority.

He felt she controlled because she had reached the point where she would react with anger rather than yielding. He did not get what he had always gotten when he overpowered her with his intensity of argument. That change angered him. When she fought back, though in private, he was convinced that no one could be married to a shrew such as she.

Two things happened to help him understand that he was the controller and not his wife.

First, other people in their marriage workshop reached out to her and validated her as a human being with value and worth. They accepted her as she was. Perhaps that was the first time she had had such direct validation in years. It gave her strength. Strength turned her anger into confidence and resolve. With great self-control, she calmly informed him the last day of the crisis marriage workshop that she would not tolerate being treated as inferior ever again. He would treat her as an equal or he would live without her in his world.

Second, one of the leaders of our workshop finally got through to the husband what he was doing. It is fine to have an opinion: It is not fine to force it on her. It is okay to want her to feel certain emotions: However, he had to accept that her feelings belonged to her, not him. He had no right to try to control what she felt. In the same way, he had no right to control any of her life. Overpowering another person by personality, intensity, argumentation, or any other means is in essence a form of slavery. Words and behaviors can be just as frightening as chains and whips.

What Should a Controlled Person Do?

We have seen as many controlling husbands as controlling wives. It’s not isolated to a specific sex. As indicated above, sometimes controllers feel that they are the controlled. Having wise, objective counsel sometimes is essential to discovering whether one is the controlled or the controller.

Additionally, if one is truly being manipulated or controlled, that person has to make a decision that he or she will no longer live under those conditions. Anger will not solve the problem. Calm strength can. Therapy or counseling may be required. Almost certainly there must be a strong support group. Many find that through my Marriage Helper 911 weekend for marriages in crisis. The couple in the story at the beginning of this article did.

Lastly, if someone is being physically controlled (violence, abuse, or similar), that person must seek professional intervention before any confrontation with the controller. Many cities have hotlines for abused people. If a person does not know where to find help, a talk with a caring physician or a call to the police can lead to the right resources.

If your marriage is in danger of separation or divorce, call us at (866) 903-0990 to speak with someone or use the form below to request more information about our Marriage Helper 911 workshop for troubled marriages. Our success rate over the last decade is saving three out of four marriages, even when adultery, porn, anger, or other things have deeply hurt the relationship! (If you’re thinking your spouse would never come, contact us by phone or the form below and we’ll tell you what others who felt the same way did to get their spouses there.) We will keep everything you tell us completely confidential. Our motivation is to help you determine if this workshop is right for your particular situation. We also offer solutions for couples who can’t attend the workshop.

If you and your spouse cannot attend a Marriage Helper 911 weekend or your spouse refuses to get any marriage help, there is still hope. Check out our Save My Marriage Course – where you’ll learn how to bring your spouse back to the marriage. Click the banner below to find out more about it.

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  1. Caroline Caroline
    November 25, 2014    

    Thank God for you and all of the posted information. I see myself and my controlling manipulating husband in almost all of the comments. We have been married for four months and this is our second marriage to each other. We were married when we were in our early twenties and now in our mid sixties. Everyone thinks that our relationship is heaven sent and so did I, I thought! We spent forty years apart and when we united this time he showed or I overlooked the signs of control. He is such a master in masquerading and twisting my words to try and make me feel worthless and childish.. There is a pattern with him. We can have the best of times for about a couple of weeks and then he will get angry about something he said I did or didn’t do in supporting him or he’ll say i’m not with him when I don’t agree with him about certain things. He goes on and on about it. He doesn’t see the affect it has on me but he is so self righteous and always right with no wrongdoing. when I tell him to look at himself and what he is doing, he twist my words to make me feel wrong for accusing him and I need to be truthful. He uses the word of God to jusyify his “truth.” I didn’t marry to divorce, but this man is trying to take away my identity in Christ and the person that I am. I love him but each time it takes away from it. I noticed that he doesn’t have but one close friend and he is at a distance and his family tolerate him and his only son has disconnected himself from him. He is really a sad man, but is blind to the real truth. I came back into his life and now he is pushing me away. What do I do?

    • JulieGrace JulieGrace
      December 9, 2014    

      You are describing my ex husband. He is passive aggressive just like your husband. Here’s an excellent website about passive aggressive people.

      Just yesterday, I talked to a preacher about my divorce because I became fixated on the verse in the bible that says a divorced woman is committing adultery if she marries again (our divorce was not one that is allowed according to the New Testament); she has two choices- never remarry or reconcile with her ex husband. I’m paraphrasing this of course. Anyways, the preacher believes that God doesn’t want us to live a life of suffering because our spouse is psychologically abusing us. (Yes, you are being abused). If you’ve been diligently praying about it, and your husband shows no signs of changing, I highly recommend you leave. Notice that I didn’t say divorce. I’m not qualified to offer up that advice. I would talk with a pastor before making that decision.
      Until then, the only thing you can do Is remove yourself from your husband’s presence. This means leaving. I don’t mean in the future, I mean today. Pack up some essentials, and go stay with a trusted friend or trusted relative.
      One of the most difficult things all human beings have to deal with is change. The decision to leave right now might be hard, but deciding to permanently leave is going to be so much more difficult. If you can’t afford to see a therapist, lean on those who have always cared about you (not those who only make appearances in your life when it’s convenient for them). You can do this!

      Here are three things that I say to myself when dealing with negative people.
      “Don’t let people live in your head rent free.”
      “Anger may win the argument, but calm strength will defeat the cause.”
      Then I say a prayer for the negative person.

      I’m only 35 years old, but I’ve gained more knowledge this past decade than I ever imagined. Having three craniotomies and undergoing radiation will certainly give a person a new and more in depth view of life in this world and of eternal life with God.

      In the name of Jesus I pray for the Holy Spirit to embrace you and give you courage. My prayers are with you.

      • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
        December 27, 2014    

        The temptation to leave can be strong, and if someone is in physical danger they should. But you actually can save and repair a marriage afflicted by control. We do not advocate leaving your spouse. We have seen thousands of these situations change and turn around for the better. We also do not advocate talking with family or friends about marriage issues. They are biased, and they do not give the best advice for your marriage. We do recommend speaking with a neutral third-party such as a pastor, counselor, or mentor who can step back from the situation and see the best thing for the marriage, not just for one spouse. “Poisoning the well”, or speaking poorly about your spouse or your marriage issues with family and friends, will only lend reasons for your loved ones to not like your spouse, which will lead to many, many, many more problems down the line.

        • Laura Laura
          February 20, 2015    

          We’ve been to counselors. As long as they focus on my faults, they’re fantastic, and he uses their comments (real or imagined) against me from then on. As soon as they turn on him and begin to focus on his issues and changes he could make to improve our marriage, their branded as liberal and feminist and poorly trained and he stops attending.

          • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
            February 22, 2015    

            That’s typically what happens. This is one reason that counseling sessions have less than 50% success rate in helping marriages – because one or both spouses will end up feeling criticized and become defensive. No one wants that. The MUCH better option is doing a group workshop. That way, no one feels defensive and the information is more likely to get through without putting up walls.

    • December 28, 2015    

      Caroline. My husband came home from three and a half years of being under water on submarines and refits. When he came back I had been diagnosed as Bi Polar for a year and a half of that time and the Navy never told him.
      My husband also came back with mental problems of his own after he had slipped through the cracks requiring his command to make sure he had leave and R and R in certain Intervals hi rate was so short of personel that those of less rank with high qualification and Proficancy test scores seem to be hit to cross deck in emergency’s always seeming to need to go straight back out to sea when the rest of the crew was going home for leave ad R and R, Then things like his last refit being forced to take his new chiefs in port watch and his own as well as ships repair and Nuclear weapons security guard His last refit he was kept on duty from 6:00 am Monday morning to 8:00 PM Saturday evening when he was found passed out on watch in missile control center The base shrink wanted him not to make that last patrol due to extreme exhaustion.
      He made that last patrol went and processed out for Four days getting the things I had stored the year before moved back to where he was coming back Claiming his position and accrued seniority back at His UAW position in a transmission plant.
      He was coming home with more seniority than 60 percent of the work force When he was forced to drive back the sixteen hours when he did not want to wait four more days for a flight back, He was bumped of the flight he orginally made The airlines had to finally agree to pay for the rental home when they were forced to aknowledge my husband should not have been bumped since he was traveling under legal orders, they also had to pay three times his fare back. So the airlines lost a profit on that flight.
      He did not get the greeting he wanted and hoped for and frankly deserved, He got home at 4 am on June first 1985. To a note written by his father on the door to leave m alone and take the sofa, Then the war started an hour latter. My very tired husband Knew he had 30 days from his effective date of discharge that next Friday, He was still in the Navy when he arrived home He as going to use the 30 days to get a home, have a real honeymoon not that we even had one day after our wedding. But hi father an hour latter was screaming at him to get his lazy rear in to HR and reinstate. I was wondering how he could call my husband lazy after no leave, R and R for over three years.
      Some of the language used by my husband however made me feel an Inch tall and I did not come out of my room. It took an intervention from his mother begging my husband to just do as his father wanted, they put my husband straight to the floor on seconds, we discovered that it was something his father arranged with one of his friends, don’t give my husband a chance to get his bearings or he would use his seniority to disrupt lives. He did not get back until 4:00 am the next morning to the same note then a little over and hour latter it sounded as though the earth was coming apart, His mother hammered on my door to come out and help keep my husband from murdering his father. His father as screaming to hit the bricks and find a place to live told my husband he did not have time to deal with me or any of that nonsense. I heard a crash just as I finished getting dressed and rushed out to the living room to see his father turning blue with my husband looking up at were he had his father pinned against the ceiling. I knew it was his fathers wish that I stay out of sight for the first week my husband was home, He said it would just cause extra problem if I did not. Now I Know how I should have greeted my husband, meeting him as he came through the door and running back out with him the morning he came home.
      We however went to the first thing he had to eat in five days, We went through the paper, apartment finders an rentals catalogs By the time he had to get ready for work getting His seabag and boat coveralls on and his boondockers he still had all his insignia on them. but we had looked at several places and found one a mile and a half from his work. He again walked in to the same note at four the next morning, His father chewed me and his mother up one side ad adown the other about mollycodling him> said if we did he would feel he was allowed to do anything he wanted, to many people counted on a smooth return nobody being hurt The next day we went to arrange for delivery of our things, Get some new work cloths Arrange for the utilities and cable Then back to his fathers, He was home when we arrived with two women a very pretty 19 year old blond and a Doris Day looking woman her mother. Y husband Had just stepped in the door when his father demanded if my husband had put his shift preference for days in. My husband said he was using his nine years to bump somebody with six months and his fathers it just about turned him purple yelling he was not gong to put this little girl on seconds an destroy her social life, my husband said Shewa the same as he as under the contract. His father turned to me and told me I better have some thing to say I told I’m that he had to not use his seniority for to years and to make sure he did not there would be no sex for that long. Everyone tought he house was coming down.My husband slaed ntothe Garage were his old ary Bivwac kit was an he slmmed out of his ftrhghers house telling me I was a mercenary b****, The two other ladys were stunnedby my husbnds temper as his mother came in and landed in the moddle of me and his father, she said tht this week was goig to bite us The 33 years of my marriage has turned into one will deciding everything in my home, My husbands! 3 years ago after MRSA in his spine left him a cripple he came home with one goal That after thity one years of marriage he was the sole judge and arbitoir in his house That I waso longer goig tokeep him in a sexless marriage as a way to gainhis cooperation,
      The Day he came home I had promised to go to a political fund raising dinner with his mother, father and His fathers best friend, The first unexpected ting was he was walking with a cvane when he was supposed to be wheel chair bound. The next surprise was I either submitted to being a real wife I all ways including sex Or he was putting me out in -40 degree weather He had already come in and told me I was going to be with only him thart evening. I tried getting a consessin before that I handed I’ him his wallet a 100.00 bill and pleaded wth him to pick a place to meet after the event, Where everyone could sit like civilized people nd et his grievaces of the last three decadfes aired and we could decide on what was going to be allowed from ther I was thinking a reset to 1985 and a couple years time to get thiongs right this time.
      He had no intension of lettig us have any more of his life there was nothing any one could offer except killing him And he made it abundantly clear if I did no ubmit That was my fate. I hurtfo a mnth after he was done. His fathers bext rind suffered 23 suures n his face and aconcussio fromhititting fae first in the drive after tweling my husband to gt out of his waycrip then trying to push my husband.
      Every holiday and vacatin tradition now has beenkilled by my husbnd inb the last two years.
      He does not understand te blackmail and time he was forced to work for three decades or was I rehab was not meant that way. is time passed much different than the rest of ours I admit tha tIt di not seem like 31 years where he had not been home for a holiday or had a day off or vacation, I alwas intended to make our marriage right. Now he does nohing for any one but hammer them. I think there is only one word he knows that word is NO Or the phrase whats in it for me.
      I never thought I would see anythinglke what I saw where we live now three datyys ago Wen I handed him his first christmas diner at home in 33 years I just wanted to put alo o vry nervouse people at ease when handed him his plate and askdhim t go out to the pole barn to eat. I ended up with the plate in my face his father and five ohers grabbing him and throwing him out telling hm untile he cold gin manners he could sta ot of his own house IIU went and cleaned up when my husand came back through the door With his lariate loop in one hand and his 30 30 in the other. The other end of therope was tied to his sadles pomel an he told bart his horse to move forward, It ightend the loop. He said the n trtyhirt had thrown hi out of his home could put their meals down and leave with their families He did not care what the found tor their Christmas or else his father was leaving behind the horse.About a third of the guests left I heard one saying I guess he is notgoing to even feel the sprite of the season and my husband said and how many tims had any body ever showed it to him for33 years. I had to think never, He got the loop off his very frieghtened father and he said he could leave to. His father left with tears poutring down his face hungry. I went and got another plate ready and said ok he made his point, he sat and watched some stange movie called laberenth W packed up yesterday and left for High range yestersday and I guess we are here through easter. But I don’t dare say a thing,

      • December 28, 2015    

        I am sorry my keyboard seems to be running out of battery

  2. shirley ivory shirley ivory
    February 12, 2015    

    I have lived through the most horrendous 31 ears of being bullied and controlled so I took the step to change this I have read so many things just like this website and they are all right in what they say, I have started o stand up for myself but he is making it so very difficult I have always been told that I am no allowed to show emotion and if I do he tells me getting angry or shouting and crying just shows how mad I am even thou he is allowed to hit me throw things etc. and now he has turned even that around I am now allowed to shout back and stand up for myself but like he says shouting so the neighbours can hear and by telling people how he treats me just shows how mad I am he has done a really good job of still making me look the idiot so if anyone has any other ideas o how to handle him I would be very grateful as for why am I still here!! well he has taken everything from me my strength my confidence and at 52 I really have no choice but to see it to the end of my days

    • Laura Laura
      February 20, 2015    

      Sounds just like my husband

    • Roz Roz
      February 23, 2015    

      Yes you do, I kicked my husband out, I was 49yrs old, 3 weeks before my 25 wedding anniversary, I have not looked back, I love my life today, I choose who I want in my life, the Lord gave us free will, now only people who respect me and treat me well are in my life.
      My daughter can see the new me, my friends are all new, none of my old ones could understand any of this, they just expected me to take more of the same, but I blew up threw him out and did not go back, best decision of my life.

      • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
        February 24, 2015    

        There comes a point where no one wants to be controlled. At some point, you may have to put your foot down and draw the line for your own well-being. However, our hope is the fix your marriage before that has to happen.

    • January 4, 2016    

      Starting in 2001 instead of just a vocal argument that was usually bad enough to bring the sheriff out to tell him either he went to work or he could spend the holidays or vacation in jail. Usually with his father and his best friend the county commissioner standing beside him ended up with my husband going to work another holiday he really did not have to. he could have forced somebody with less seniority to work under the contract. Then in 2001 my husband had to have brain surgery, A tumor on the top of his brain stem had to come out to releave Adult Onset Hydrocephalus commonly called brain swelling.
      When he came out of surgery we were expecting the doctor to tell us he was dead, that’s how dangerous the surgery was. But he came through it. When we went in instead of hazel his eyes were steel grey, I could see that even with the memory loss that something had changed, and I felt it was for the worse. When he was sent home the next day his father, mother and me were informed that the next 60 days he needed to stay a quiet as possible, as much rest as possible. His father and coworkers felt that was ten times to long because somebody had to work his machines.
      They were the most hated job in the plant because of their location, the year round temps were 125 degree plus, The bars were heavy to load sixteen times a day. the basket of parts to the heat treats were even more heavy. and they thought if my husband could stand he could work after six days. They yanked him out of bed and took him to work.
      A month latter 9/11 happened and before the towers even came down my husband said Osama was behind it. I remember he made his father so angry when he said it.
      Then we went into October the company was opening a new plant nearby and putting Job Bids up My husband bid on a new job with over 23 years seniority he was only a few hundreds down from the top seniority.
      MY husband however signed for a very much wanted job on midnights, His fathers best friend the county commissioner wanted his son to get the job but he had only eight years. Everyone felt that social status should trump the contract.
      To my husband social statues was something to kick in the teeth, HE got really stubborn about this time, The day before the bid was to come down I went to myhusband and told him I would stop the sex denial of the last 16 years, show him the greatest sex he would ever dream of, even go to bat for our next vacation trip to Ireland for him in 2003. I also said this was the last time I would request something from him over his seniority if he would just back off this time and stay were he was at. He called me a liar, a tramp, the community girlfriend and asked what that supervisor that I was sleeping with would say about me sleeping with him, It was another time I felt that he was reading my mind. The next morning I was told to use the slide bolt to lock him out. So just after four the next morning I did, His father said if they caused my husband to bleed to go ahead and call the police. Four men including the man I had been seeing came up on the porch behind my husband. They gave him two options one to remove his name under his own power or get carried in to do it. My husband gave them two options, get out of his face or die. I should not have worried about my veteran husband of both the Army and Navy, he turned our front porch into a blood bath. The front door landed on top of me and he stood on it telling me the next time I tried getting him hurt he would kill me. He punched his crying father right in the face when he came up crying was this really needed. one day he would have had some of what he felt were rights just not now. The next eight years it was more people hurt, armed intimidation, and it got so everyone was afraid to go any direction with my husband. In 2009 his father took the boarding passes for us out of my husbands computer case for the flight and boarding the orient express, They went to a young couple getting married. All TSA heard was my husband yelling at his father and just about throwing me across the airport concourse My husband explained his father had robed him, he let me have less than 800 cash to go, His mother begged that was not nearly enough to go She said when we returned that everyone would settle up with him pleas don’t hurt somebody over a vacation even though we knew it had been decades. Thing between my husbands mother and father were really tense that trip we got back and my husband said we could walk the 60 miles home and I was not to come home I had had to beg for money to eat with. I was dropped at his fathers and when I was taken home the house was padlocked shut. My husband nowhere to be found. until the UAW Chaplin called that night to say he was there. as he had been every day the last two weeks, He said he was arranging to take us in as visitors. Me and his father and the chaplin got to the crib window and We could see he was receiving parts in the back. My husband would not answer us, Then at the hour his suprervisor came in he let us in to try and get the keys from my husband. We could not get him to say a thing until seven thirty, He handed me an eviction notice telling me I had not paid rent to him in 31 years, That as a roommate I had to come up with my share or he was not letting be back in. His father told his mother how mad he was over that vacation, over other things in our life, His father asked how come he could not have raised a son to be a real man. It took until later that year o get me back in the house, We found the doors unlocked one morning and my husband on his mat on the floor crying was so hot it felt like a furnace unable to move he was in so much pain, He ended up in a almost 24 hour surgery the night of October 24 2009 He died twice on the table, and the damage MRSA had done to his spine.
      I had always intended to make up for things from 1985. Every time my husband wanted something for himself he was treading on somebody else, It was a huge problem. To many people wanted me to control my husband. It went on so long it became a habit, The holidays I thought we were not forgetting him every Christmas at his work gate we would give him a ten as a gift and two sandwiches as we went out every new years eve he would get two ham on rye with mustard. The final down week he worked it was because another man with less seniority was getting his kids from his two prior marriages. He said he could not woke it under any circumstances. My husband was going to push his 34 years senirity and not having a holiday off down every ones throat ant take it off His father showed up on Christmas eve and Pistols were produced and my husband escorted to his fathers car to be taken to work. Thanksgiving my husband had already caved in another mans face with the butt of a shotgun he snatched out of his hands His father accelerated up to fourrty five miles per hour when both back doors flew open and two men hit the pavement hard. They lost a lot of skin on the road another lost his teeth on the windshield He was choking his father out. Everything that was tried just built resentment but my husband was told to come in any way. He took his computer and watched DVDs all week refusing to work for his pay, The union said that he was not supposed to work. on new years Eve His father was having the man that was supposed to work go with me to the new years eve celebration. I handed him his ham on rye with mustard, I was wearing a cashmire charcoal grey outfit when the guy said we will make sure she is well kissed at midnight and he need not think I was coming home the next morning because he would be seeing to my needs. The mustard was smeared down my out fit followed by an old cup of coke thrown in with us from a dumpster It was just being entirely hate full, The next full work day the man that was supposed to work was Told His last day was till the end of the shift, it was supposed to be my husbands down week. I am absoluty sure my husband despises me because of me allowing the abuse and refusing sex to help out in it
      Now he wont do anything in any way but his If I am invited someplace He considers himself invited even if there a war to get in. I have seen him hurt a doorman that was told by his father to keep him out and admit me, That was Memorial day 2014. Since 2013 all that’s happened was he forced me into sex, after 31 years. That was two weeks after coming home from rehab. He broke his fathers jaw that same memorial day Christmas this year was as bad when all I wanted to do was put guests from the mid west at ease over dinner. I put a plate for him together after he refused to be any where else. I was begging him to eat in the pole barn. I ended up with potatoes up my nose, dressing in my hair. gravy all over me and the turkey on the floor with him telling me he was not going to be asked to go out to the cold barn to eat when he had a warm house.
      I as usual ended up crying. in the bedroom with his mother telling me I deserved everything that happened she said you don’t send a man out like a bad child to eat by himself out side his home. I was going out to get a new plate together for him and take it out to him and tell him to come back in His father and several other men were hurt throwing him out of his house until he developed some manners.
      before I could the front door flew open, his father got a lariat loop attached to the pomel of his horse Bart thrown around his neck My husband had his 30 30 trained on everyone else Every one had to take any weapons carried out and put them down two fingered He told them to pick them up at the Sheriffs office one of the guest started going for his automatic .40 When my husband said don’t be stupid the round from his rifle would be through his head before he cleared his quick release weapons carrier. Almost a third of the guests left hungry with their families. he sent his father down the road with them. HE turned his attention to me next in front of the rest of our guests he dressed me asked me if I remember what he said three years ago. I said he told me that he was the final and only judge and arbitor from then on under his roof, That since I had abused my position as a wife for 31 years then the Next 31 years were his even if he had to take it out of hides.
      As I said In other posts, I never wanted my husband to feel abused or resentful. I just wanted everyone happy, I failed horribly with my husband because he was the only one never considered. Now we are all behind the 8 ball trying to figure a way to get him happy. New Years eve I was not able to go to the clubs, He packed me and our 2 year old up with our cats and dog and Made a forced one day ride up to High range. I spent it looking out over the Prarie and Rapid city to the east It was a very clear night Me and my husband made a guinee hen boiled potatoes and peas earlier We watched all the towns fireworks at midnight from our vantage point It looked like multi colored stars exploding below us. By the time we got down our little boy was asleep on his fathers shoulder.
      I have made a resolution to find a way to peace this year without excluding my husband. We have a New Sight to sight Telephone up here, No longer depend On transponders and 2 meter FM.
      Our batteries are staying fully charged All the wind turbines and steam generator at Putting out almost 90 KW/hour. More power than we need My husband knowledge and work ethic was never made to look miniscule by me. I just did not know hw to keep the peace with him and his favorite word. NO!

      • January 4, 2016    

        I should also say his mother has asked his father to go back to the Midwest, she wants to stay at our canyon home and she says she will watch it. My mother is right across the road. So her and my mother are sort of together a lot. My mother says that this did not have to happen, If everyone in the Midwest had been willing to earn their rights under seniority, put their dues in. Instead of getting me to do their dirty work. She says that my husband was always nice to her and helped when he could,
        She said our son should have started life years before. I sinned against my husband and everyone else that got in the way commited a sin. she does not say my husband was in any way at fault, She said the fault is mine, the fault is his fathers, and the fault is the society’s.

  3. Laura Laura
    February 20, 2015    

    The confirmations surrounding our meeting and subsequent engagement mean that 25 years later, there is still no doubt that my husband and I were brought together by God. Yet if we had a song it would be the Carpenters’ “Hurting Each Other.” Only once have I stood up to him – when he wanted me to go back to work with three children under 5. The youngest of these is now 18, and he still throws it back in my face that I’ll “just do my own thing – (I) always do” when I want to do something he doesn’t want me to do. He is verbally and emotionally abusive to me and to our children – the oldest ran away at 16 and only communicates with the youngest. Yet “What God joined together….” has always kept me from leaving. Besides, I still love him, in spite of his judgemental criticism and bitter unforgiveness. However, I’m finding it harder and harder to love in forgiveness towards him. Pray for me.

  4. Nina Nina
    February 23, 2015    

    Wow I knew my husband had many issues and I’ve determined he has narcissistic personality disorder but after reading this about emotional manipulation it sounds just like him. Even the examples given are things he has said or done. I’ve tried counseling but he thinks he is justified in everything he feels and does so it gets nowhere. I started living with it and trying to still treat him the way God would want me too but I don’t know who I am anymore. I have no identity left. I’ve told him before that he is an emotional abuser and controlling but he looks at me like I’m crazy and of course has everyone convinced that I’m controlling. I believe he wants me to leave so yet again he can say “see she left me and I was a good husband”. He truly believes it. I feel stuck and I don’t know what to do anymore. I’ve given up really.

    • Sasa Sasa
      September 11, 2015    

      Don’t give up, Nina! You can do this. Read books to learn about this stuff if you can’t get him to do counseling. People like this will drain the life out of you if you let them. There is not way that a controlling person would attend counseling anyway, as they think they already have all of the answers. Peace to you


      • W'esa W'esa
        October 28, 2015    

        Sasa, this is so very true. My husband absolutely refuses to seek any outside help as he is accountable to “God” only and he doesn’t need any outside help for our marriage. In spite of the fact that I never feel heard, appreciated or understood and my ideas are only used if they make him look good or benefits him in some way he thinks they will otherwise, I’m cut-off mid sentence.

        When I express my experience with his attitude and behavior towards me and how I don’t feel he really listens to my heart, nor do I trust him with it (as he often uses things I share with him against me when it is convenient for him to make a point against me) his response is most often how he does “hear’ me, he just doesn’t “agree” and because he is the head of the household, the buck stops with him. He is the decision maker and I’m to follow his lead rather I agree or not. This is what he deems as “submission” to him.

        He uses gas-lighting tactics on me to make me seem like I’m crazy or imagining things he is saying or doing. He says that I’m the only friend he has (and in many ways this is true as he won’t cultivate friendships with people that could have been great ones) and stays away from people that would challenge him and his ideals in any way. I love my husband but after over two decades of marriage, I feel like so many of you who have responded here as well as those in the article, “I’m a shell of the woman I used to be”.

        I am that tiger, that lion who’s been trained to jump through hoops and bow down in the appropriate places. But I am hating the person I am becoming; the bitter, resentful, distrusting and unappreciated woman who feels captive to the one who was supposed to love, nurture and cherish her.

        Enough of that, I want to know how I/we and our relationship can be healed? In spite of it all, I really love my husband and believe that with God, all things really are possible. And as much as I feel like giving up so many times, I truly believe that God can somehow get the glory out of this mess and turn it into a message. HE knows my husbands heart far better than I do and I pray for him to be healed in places he may not even be aware of which causes him to seek the need to control and dominate the way he does and wisdom for me to be the wife he needs and the woman God has called me to be.

  5. Connie Connie
    March 24, 2015    

    This article surely hits home to me. I have been married almost two years. We have been separated for much of that time during to a physical fight within the first month of my marriage. We have tried to reconcile. It seems like the simplest things I say or do set him off and he shuts down. I have been on the verge of divorce many times because I felt I couldn’t get i right. We talked earlier this month and it seemed we werr on the same page to work on our marriage but he has called it quits again. I have moved out and I have filed for a divorce and I am so miserable. I know God hates divorce and I had prayed He would save our marriage. I do know I have issues and I am willing to work on them. My concern is I dont think he sees his issues as we always talk about mine. He isnt communicating with me at all at this point but I would like for us to go to a group session. I just dont think he would go. I feel a tremendous amount of guilt over my own faults and I want to get it right so I can please God and my husband. He tells me if I would hear, listen, and follow God then he would be fine.

    • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
      March 26, 2015    

      Connie, we would love to help you. If you don’t think your husband will go, we have ways that we can help you get him to come to a workshop. Please call us at 615-636-8086.

  6. michele michele
    May 4, 2015    

    I can’t seem to locate the Part 2 and 3 of this series anywhere. If they are posted somewhere could you please provide the link.

  7. Maryanne Maryanne
    June 21, 2015    

    I love my husband yet he was controlling in a major decision in our lives – I gave in mainly out of fear because of his anger after I expressed my concerns about going thru w this decision. This decision did cause hardship for us, & whilst I didn’t want to bring his angry response up, because I forgave him, I had to bring it up & then he denied it adimantly – he then pleaded ‘self-esteem’ issues – that I was contributing to his struggles with lack of it. I had to walk out of the room saying I wasn’t going to deny what happened but came back & said “but I have forgiven you [his name].” I know I am not perfect. I do my best to address his unhealthy behaviour. Please pray. From Australia

  8. Julia Julia
    July 11, 2015    

    I think my husband is controlling,dominating. We haven’t had sex for 7 yrs. he brings this up almost every day. Thou way he goes on at me about lesbian feminism .etc I think he hates women. He has my bank card, and other things gives me $50 a week out of our joint account .we have a disabled son he calls an idiot. Moron etc. hits my other son which is frustrate from no sex.. I think that’s why I don’t want to have sex with him. Even said to me once I give you half my money the kill you? I really don’t know .

  9. September 11, 2015    

    I have been married for 45 years to a man who Is a very controlling and narcissistic personality. Many people saw this tendency all along but I was a submissive codependent. After 30 years life changed dramatically when he became involved in some questionable financial dealings which cost us and all of our friends most of their savings. All of this despite much advice to not become involved in these ventures from me and other qualified advisors..I left him after this ,thinking that huge move act would be a wake up call..not so. A short period of counselling resulted in no change on his part and some serious boundary setting for me..enfin,we are still apart after 6 years and my last effort to enocourage counselling has been stonewalled so I proceeded with separation and divorce..he agreed that it was the best thing for us and his relief at the fact that I was not trying to “nag” him anymore was forward to the separation papers being presented to him and all of a sudden he is realizing the error of his ways and wants to initiate counselling and reconciliation. I have no trust or faith In his claim as the timing is terrible…all along he has been saying that there is nothing left for us to work with,we are of different mindsets with no element of friendship left..the sermonesque messages I get now are incredible And my reaction after all this time is’ too little too late’. I have no confidence in his motivation and want to be finished and done with this relationship,thinking that I will always be waiting for the shoe to drop..i have a good job,a house and money ..he has experienced bankruptcy and has used his remaining money in investments that have not come to I hard hearted or wise

    • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
      September 11, 2015    


      I can’t tell you what to do. No one can. If it were I, I would give him that second chance to see if he can prove himself as changed. That is, after all, what you were hoping for all along. Of course, strict boundaries would have to be put into place…but it is definitely worth seeing if this can be saved. 45 years is a lot of time to throw away…

  10. Sasa Sasa
    September 11, 2015    

    I wonder what to do when you have to deal with 1 person who is domineering who had an affair with your husband while you were married and while you were pregnant with your first and only lovely son. Then, who one year after the divorce, married the person (husband) who was controlling to you during your marriage and, who, in this new marriage takes on a role-reversal (he plays the womanly role as in taking care of the kids and cooking). Then, you have to share joint custody of your one and only lovely son who has to also endure being controlled by this insecure individual who can’t have her own kids biologically. There is a feeling of helplessness that sets in when you can’t seem to do anything to help your very own son. This type of behavior is very commonplace in our society and yet very difficult to get help for. It is also difficult to extract yourself and your progeny without having to pay hundreds of dollars to someone who may or may not actually be able to help. I have found when I have asked for the help that the person has been incompetent and has actually made things much worse. i find that praying to Mother Mary helps and having a feeling of tenacity and strength inside that says, “No matter what, i will never give up.” I also find books very helpful but, beyond that, not much else does anything. and that is my two cents. thank you

    Peace out to all the people having to endure this burden and I wish you and myself and my son all of the very best!


    • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
      September 11, 2015    

      Sasa, I understand how you feel. You really can never know who to trust when it comes to marriage help as a lot of people don’t know what they are talking about. We have experienced this when people have been referred to us. It happens more than we would like… However, fortunately, there is good help out there. As you said, books are good. Our Marriage Helper 911 workshop has helped many marriages in this situation. We also have periodic webinars on how to handle controlling spouses. Be sure to sign up for our mailing list to get notifications about those!

  11. Maree Maree
    September 21, 2015    

    My husband makes me feel stupid and insecure in my well-being. I’m confused, frustrated, resentful, depressed, and I feel lonely. He’s always yelling at me and my girls, our daughters are older now but it still hurts them. My youngest is twenty and she wants me to just take control of the whole situation and tell her dad to back off. I really didn’t know that I was being controlled until my children pointed it out to me. Now, after reading this article I’m sure of it because he’s typical of all the signs I’ve read here. I feel ashamed of myself because of my girls; they use to look up to me for support and protection. I allowed my husband to verbally abuse all of us for years and I didn’t even know it. I need to leave him after twenty-five years of marriage, I have to leave for my, and my children’s sanity. Thank you for this article, now I know what I must plan to do and my and my girls future will be brighter.

    • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
      September 24, 2015    

      Maree, I highly encourage you to work things out and approach your husband and get help before leaving the marriage.

  12. Kathy Kathy
    October 11, 2015    

    My husband keeps track of miles on car my paycheck and expenses. I don’t have friends and can never go anywhere by myself. He goes thru my cell phone constantly..

  13. October 17, 2015    

    I 1985 when my husband came home from the navy after three and a half years apart, he was coming home to reclaim his position at the transmission plant under a UAW contract. The law guaranteed his job back. The contract guaranteed his seniority that had continued to build while he was in, when he came back he was the first of over 200 coming back under this, and in the area we lived there were many that felt my husband and the others should come back as probationary employees since they used the military leave of absence clause I the contract to ensure there return basically said they could take things like shits, jobs, vacation slots, work or refuse holidays passing them down to lesser seniority, same with weekend work.
    His father bought the local union president over one day the week before my husband was coming back, Sat me at the kitchen table and they started telling me about all the lives that could be disrupted, When men like my husband came back and claimed their rights. I was asked to just keep my husband from having a home life for a few years until the disruptions could be averted, it went totally out of control the next 16 years when every time my husband wanted a new job, a vacation at a decent time of the year. A holiday like Christmas off. Three was always someone with more need than my husband who had less seniority than my husband. So it was always me left to beg and make promises about normalizing our marriage if he would just back off his wants.
    As you can imagine this lead to some very bad and many times arguments until 1995. One time bringing the sheriff and a deputy to get my husband to just put an axe down and just please not disrupt the holidays any longer and just go wok the sixteen hour holiday shift, the sheriff told him he had three options. To go to work, to go to the hospital with a slug in him or he could spend the week in jail until a judge could be found. He said just put the ax down and keep the peace.
    Of course one of the men being chased off was the president of the county council at the time and his son with barely two years seniority was the person that my husband was going to force. I made the promise again that day as my husband went to work that one day a normal life could be achieved just please wait for it. Then the headaches started. My husband was always sick when he was at work, his left foot dragged, and his father was always screaming he needed to buck up and be a man and stop faking he was sick, My 6 foot 4 inch tall husband was down to 145 pounds in 2001 and always seemed to be crying. On July 31st 2001 we received a call from the emergency room, telling us my husband was being transferred to an endoscopic surgical center 60 miles to the south. I never was comfortable driving with tunnel vision and Anti bipolar drugs. So his father came with my husbands mother to get me and take me down to get permissions signed to treat my husband. His father yelled all the way down that we had to nip this fakery in the bud right now. Get him back on the job.
    When we were ushered into the doctors office when we arrived and when he came in his father jumped up and started saying he was sorry his son took his valuable time up but we needed to get him back to his job the next after noon. He was going to cause other men and women to have to shift vacation times if he did not get back on the job. I think the doctor was about to call security to get him out of his office. His mother said there had to be a reason my husband was sent down there.
    The doctor put CT scans and MRIs taken of my husbands head. He explained that there was a tumor on the top of his brain stem that blocked the spinal fluid off in his head, causing adult onset hydrocephalus. His father said so what just a little fluid in his scull. The doctor said it was bad enough he was surprised my husband was still alive. He said unless surgery was done he had maybe 24 hours before a anurism caused my husband to die. His father refused to sign the permissions, I was not allowed since I am bi polar. His mother and father got into a horrible argument and his mother signed them for surgery. After the surgery my husband was supposed to get 60 days as recovery time His father, coworkers and supervisor allowed him six saying if he could stand he could work. It was an angry time all around, my husband to weak after the hole drilled to the center of his head to resist being pushed into work. and again I was left making the promise if he would just keep the peace over labor day and go to work as always I would try and get a place and time to let my husband have a normal marriage and some time off other than the six days in the hospital.
    I knew this promise was running out and very soon there was going to be trouble, I watched him leave for work every day. I would hear about him conditioning himself with bundles of heavy bars at work. I also heard he was practicing Katas on his breaks . I had seen the certificate of his earning a 3rd dan black belt in the army from before we were married. I knew he was up to something and he became more defiant and snippy with me, I then found out why! he was taking a new job in new transmission plant with his 23 years seniority. The son of his fathers best friend who was now a county commissioner wanted the same job, he had eight years at the time. I was told to get my husband to back off the job, and I told my husband if he would just stay where he was at this time, I would normalize our marriage, I would not object to his taking the next job opportunity, and if his father and others wanted him to work the next several years of vacation, holidays I would go to bat for an argument that he should be allowed them off. My husband told me he wanted me dead, or gone, he would rent a wife.
    With those words I knew my husband was not backing off any thing ever again, His war started the next morning when he turned our front porch into a blood bath. He destroyed the commissioners son and three others.
    I ended up laying under the front door after he kicked it in on top of me and I was informed the next time I tried getting him hurt he would kill me. That was the day his father and everyone else decided he was waiting until he was in a nursing home to get what he wanted in life and I have not seen one instance of cooperation since. Then MRSA struck his spine leaving him no feeling in his legs. He came home from rehab walking unexpectedly three years latter, Decided my affair partners idea of being a funny man when my husband caught us, Another man that was caught by surprise with my husbands anger and terrible response.
    Two weeks latter my husband decided he was no longer going to negotiate or accept any promise of our marriage . He was not going to talk anything over with anyone about solutions to get him included in his life, He forced me into sex on a evening I was supposed to go with his father, and mother as well as his fathers best friend to a political fund raiser. My husband came home from the stress center and informed me the only person I was going to pay any attention to that evening was him. I begged and pleaded with him to pick a place to meet after the event and we could talk about what he was going to be allowed now he was crippled. He had decided we were allowing nothing. He was the only one that decided any thing that was going to be allowed. And I was at the front of that line when he ripped every stich off me and had his way,
    He threw me the phone when he was done and said the number was 911, he said don’t clean up they will want a kit on me, and the ripped up cloths they will want pictures of.
    Every tradition for holidays and vacations has now been ground into the dirt. His father and him have become bitter enemy’s along with all his fathers and my friends. As far as my husband is concerned if they or I interfere with what he wants to do now they have one chance to run. If he gets a hand on them they will not walk away without something broken and bleeding.

  14. Chaanah Chaanah
    October 19, 2015    

    My husband of 23 years has a very domineering demeanour which I knew when I married him after my mom warned me that he showed bullying tendencies. I didn’t think he was controlling, but time has proved otherwise. Apart from many little issues that he constantly picks me out for, there are bigger issues, such as the fact that he refuses to listen to secular music (of any sort) because he feels God spoke to him about it when he was younger. This means that no one else is allowed to listen to anything but Christian music in the house, car etc. And if I sing along to anything on a programme or spontaneously, he takes offense. He says this is never going to change as he has always taken this stand and I knew it. However, he doesn’t have a problem reading secular literature or watching secular movies/series. When I once questioned this he insisted that it’s not the same thing. I believe he also has anger issues as he often shouts or speaks aggressively (at me, our daughter, inanimate objects that defy him… even other people). He’s always justified. I insisted we go for counselling because I cannot actually take it anymore – I feel as though I cannot breathe. He was opposed to the counselling and doesn’t really like what is coming out in our sessions. It’s really hard sometimes to remember that I loved him once and defied my family by marrying him.

  15. Melissa Melissa
    January 19, 2016    

    I am somewhat concerned with the blanket answer of “come to our workshop” for every concern posted here. How much are these? While I understand that this is a calling, the rabid push that three days of talking can heal some serious psychological isues is very concerning to me. How many are suffering serious abuses because they are holding on to hope that they can push their spouse into obedience in this. Please make the resources for abused spouses more clearly available on these articles. To do otherwise is irresponsible. In love.

    • Kimberly Holmes Kimberly Holmes
      January 21, 2016    


      We fill our articles with great and free content because we desire to help people. I am not sure what you mean by making resources for abused spouses more available. We have hours of free podcasts on our Marriage Radio podcast on iTunes, as well as our articles and emails that we send out. We do want to spread the word about our 3 day workshop because it really is a life-changing experience. We also have materials available to people who cannot get their spouse to attend the workshop.

  16. Lee Lee
    February 15, 2016    

    I am a husband. You are describing my wife. There is no way to be nice enough or good enough, it is always my fault.
    No matter how selfish she is, she is always right, end of subject. She is not just hurting me, but her own marriage and our two boys.

    The Lord is my companion. I will stay in the marriage no matter what, but I look for a better life after this one.

    Any other men living like this?

  17. Faith Faith
    April 14, 2016    

    I always considered myself a strong confident woman who would not take abuse in any form. After reading a lot of the comments I realize I am none of the above . On my 3rd marriage (should have been a clue) I am now married to a very controlling man ,who day by day is whittling away at all my self worth. I am obviously an enabler . He screams so close to my ear I have a constant ringing in my head. I usually back down from the argument ,whatever its about , or I just stop talking all together .I have tried to calmly tell him that his behavior is abusive ,to which he tells me that I trigger the behavior because I dont agree with him. Im at my wits end .He agrees that we need help and wants to go to see a specialist ,however it has to be someone he gets along with (AKA sees its my fault)I am on the verge of tears every second of every waking hour . I love him but I hate him all at the same time .HELP

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