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Home arrow Health arrow Mental Health arrow Controlling Husband: 10 Signs and How to Cope in a Controlling Relationship

Controlling Husband: 10 Signs and How to Cope in a Controlling Relationship

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 8, 2023
8 min read 1004 Views 0 Comments
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A healthy marriage comprises love and respect on both sides. The marriage becomes unbalanced if your husband controls everything in the relationship. It’s vital to recognize the signs of a controlling partner so you can learn how to cope and know when it’s time to leave.

Controlling husband

Everybody wants their marriage to work, but an imbalance of power in the relationship can cause an unhealthy environment. It is not always clear to see that you are in a controlling relationship, and you might mistake controlling attributes for acts of perceived love.

Controlling behavior doesn’t always reveal itself via a physically abusive relationship. Many people experience emotional abuse at the hands of a controlling partner. Ultimately, multiple actions can promote an unhealthy marriage with profound effects on your mental well-being.

This article explores how to identify a controlling husband’s behavior and how to handle or break free from the situation.

What Is a Controlling Husband?

A controlling husband uses various tactics to create an uneven sense of power in the relationship. Control can come in multiple forms, as controlling husbands might use emotional or physical abuse to dominate some or all aspects of your life, from what you wear to who you spend time with.

There is no single sign of a controlling husband. Control might come in the form of small comments you’re willing to ignore, or it could present as extreme emotional manipulation or physical abuse. Regardless, controlling partners can wreak havoc on your mental health. It can trigger low self-esteem, decreased self-worth, and paranoid thoughts.

10 Signs of a Controlling Husband

Keep reading if you’re trying to differentiate between controlling behavior and genuine care. The following signs indicate that you have a controlling husband. Remember, not everyone will have the same experiences within controlling relationships, but these are some telltale signs.

#1 Isolating you from others

Controlling people often try to isolate their spouse from others. It can be difficult to detect as it may start subtly as they slowly sever your ties with others. They might always insist on alone time, refuse to interact with your friends and family, or try to convince you that they are the only person you need and that others do not have your best interests at heart.

#2 Clingy behavior

Clinginess and adult attachment in romantic relationships is when one person is highly dependent on the other. While it’s normal to express concern about your partner, clingy behavior can be a sign of your husband trying to establish control. For example, constant messaging and phone calls while you’re away from your husband could indicate jealousy.

#3 Not accepting criticism

Not everyone can handle criticism well, but controlling people may be unwilling to accept any negativity toward them. You might find yourself bottling up your feelings or avoiding approaching your husband about certain topics for fear of how he might react.

#4 Close-mindedness

Close-mindedness can signify a form of controlling behavior. If your husband is unwilling to accept any opinion other than his own, he might make you unable to share your views. This makes it impossible to have a healthy debate about anything, which is normal in any relationship.

Again, it can result in you keeping your thoughts to yourself because you don’t want to upset your husband. A controlling husband might make you feel silly for asking questions, expressing doubt about his narrow outlook, and making you feel like you are always wrong.

#5 Unreasonable jealousy

Jealousy is a natural human emotion that we all experience every now and then. Sometimes, jealousy can simply suggest that certain aspects of the relationship need improving. However, excessive jealousy can promote a toxic and controlling environment.

Unreasonable jealousy is when a person is jealous without cause or reason. There may be no evidence to support their claims, and the level of jealousy is utterly disproportionate to the situation. Your husband might accuse you and make you feel guilty without reason.

In these situations, you may constantly be overthinking in the relationship.

#6 Managing all family finances

Married couples have different ways and means of handling money, but a husband that wants control of all household finances can be a warning sign of a controlling man. Having a partner that excels at money handling is one thing, but demanding complete control is a red flag.

You should feel comfortable discussing finances with your partner and be able to share the responsibility of paying bills. Controlling partners might prevent you from accessing your own money, force you to quit your job, or refuse to share financial information with you.

#7 He’s being mean to you around others

Does your husband ever belittle you in the company of your friends? Are you frightened to socialize with others for fear he might humiliate you? If so, you might be dealing with an abusive husband. A partner who constantly criticizes you promotes an unhealthy environment.

You might begin to feel that your partner’s criticism is warranted as he slowly diminishes your self-confidence. However, nobody deserves to feel disrespected by their partner in any way, shape, or form. If your friends are picking up on his behavior, it might be time to reconsider your situation.

Feeling like you will never be good enough in your partner’s eyes is not healthy. You should feel valued, cherished, and loved by your other half, regardless of your own insecurities. It is not okay if you are constantly being made to feel like a loser because of his mean comments.

#8 Guilt-tripping

Generally, a controlling person refuses to accept criticism or take responsibility for their actions. Instead, they might blame you to deter you from questioning their behavior. They can make you feel guilty and leave you wondering if you are the bad person in all of this.

It is crucial to spot guilt-tripping tactics. Telltale signs include passive-aggressive remarks, silent treatment, making zero effort to resolve a situation, or pointing out their own efforts within the marriage to make you feel bad. Again, this is no foundation for a loving marriage.

#9 Constant lying and threats

Transparency and good communication are fundamental in relationships. A husband that lies and keeps things from you can indicate a controlling trait, especially if he is doing so to get his way. For example, he might lie to keep you from knowing where he spends the marital money.

Threatening behavior is a form of coercive control in intimate relationships. Even without physical violence, threats can instill fear and force you to do as your husband says or leave you walking on eggshells around him. It may lead to reactive abuse, where the woman responds similarly.

#10 Controlling your appearance

Partners should respect each other’s appearance. Everyone has the right to self-expression and to shape their appearance in whatever way they desire. A controlling husband might try to manage what you wear, forcing you to dress a certain way or restrict certain clothes.

He might ban you from wearing makeup or high heels or, alternatively, force you to wear these items. Comments about your weight or forcing you to go on a low-calorie diet are other examples of red flags. Whatever the circumstances, trying to control somebody’s appearance is wrong.

How to Deal With a Controlling Husband?

Noticing the warning signs of a controlling husband can be distressing. You might not know where to turn or what to do next. The important thing is that you don’t ignore what is happening. It can worsen over time, and the consequences can be dire if the control continues.

If your partner exhibits these traits, here are some ways to handle the situation.

#1 Get support

Finding support is critical when battling a controlling spouse or mental health issues. Your partner might try to isolate you from others, but it’s important to remain in contact with friends and family. Having a solid support network around you can help you cope.

If you feel controlled and unable to reach out to others, you can seek support for your mental health through other methods. Many mental health apps help you improve your mental well-being. Apps might help you manage your thoughts and address your feelings.

#2 Set boundaries

Approaching a controlling husband about certain things can be difficult, but it is essential to set boundaries before things get out of hand. Find a safe space where you feel comfortable communicating honestly with your husband, such as in public places or outdoors.

Try to stay calm and clearly explain your boundaries. Sometimes, a controlling person doesn’t realize the extent of their actions and trying to communicate your feelings might help. Let them know the type of behavior you are not willing to tolerate anymore in your marriage.

#3 Consider therapy

If you can’t get through to your husband about his controlling ways, it might be time to seek professional help. Couples therapy can be an excellent intervention. With the help of a licensed therapist, you and your partner can both talk openly and discuss your problems.

The practice aims to improve communication between you and your husband, allowing the pair of you to express your feelings in a healthy way and without aggression or verbal abuse.

#4 If nothing helps, leave

There is only so much you can do when dealing with a controlling person. It can be difficult to leave the relationship, especially after long-term control and abuse. You might feel guilty for leaving or feel you owe it to your husband to try to make him a better person.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to change a person, no matter what you do. It could be time to leave if you can no longer tolerate your controlling husband and his negative actions. Staying in an unhealthy relationship will not benefit you or your husband long-term.

Always seek support if you are concerned about leaving an abusive partner. Try and talk to your best friend or other friends and family members. There are lots of support networks available to help, and you can even contact your doctor for advice or call a crisis hotline.

A Word From a Psychologist

Being married to a controlling husband can quickly take its toll on your mental health. Even where there is no physical abuse, many other forms can still shatter your self-worth. The marriage might feel exhausting, and you might have trouble determining what to do next.

Controlling spouses might want control over everything, and that’s not how a healthy marriage works. Both partners should have equal access to money, financial information, and other factors that affect the marriage. An imbalance of power can be a recipe for disaster.

If you see patterns of controlling behavior emerging, pay attention to them. It is important that you can safely communicate with your husband to address any concerns so you can work on them together. You must seek support if you are frightened or unable to voice your feelings.

If you’ve noticed that your husband suddenly changed, he can be struggling with the mental illness.

Talk to a friend, family member, or professional to obtain support.


Healthy relationships require love, care, and mutual respect. If the relationship with your husband is ruining your self-esteem, you need to take actionable steps. While it is possible to alter the relationship’s dynamic with therapy and other strategies, it won’t always work.

Whatever your situation, there is always hope. It might mean working with your husband to improve your relationship or walking away from it entirely. It is not okay for one spouse to always have the upper hand – you should always feel safe, equal, and respected by your partner.

Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Edibel Quintero is a medical doctor who graduated in 2013 from the University of Zulia and has been working in her profession since then. She specializes in obesity and nutrition, physical rehabilitation, sports massage and post-operative rehabilitation. Edibel’s goal is to help people live healthier lives by educating them about food, exercise, mental wellness and other lifestyle choices that can improve their quality of life.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Written by Edibel Quintero, RD
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: October 8, 2023
8 min read 1004 Views 0 Comments

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