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How to Stop a Controlling Husband [Before You Smack Him]

If he’s always telling you what to do, here’s what it means

Does your husband tell you how to cut an onion? How to drive? What to wear?

It’s no fun to have someone barking orders at you like you’re incompetent or a kitchen elf who should do his bidding.

You’ve calmly asked him to just relax or have gotten upset about it, and he still can’t seem to keep himself from telling you what to do and how to do it.

It gets discouraging. Who wouldn’t be defensive?

If you knew how to get him to stop, you surely would, but nothing seems to work. He just doesn’t get the message. So you struggle along, feeling hurt and angry most of the time.

That was Allison’s situation, and she couldn’t take it anymore.

She left her husband because he was so controlling. She felt like a prisoner at times and embarrassed when he told her how to cut the cake in front of everyone at a graduation party.

But when I showed her an approach she hadn’t considered, she decided she had nothing to lose by trying it.

That’s when everything changed. Now Allison is back with her husband and feeling like a newlywed again.

“I finally understand what people mean when they say ‘I can’t wait to spend the rest of my life with you,’” she told me excitedly. “That’s exactly how I feel.”

Here’s what I shared with Allison that helped her get there:

1. The Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy

Allison had long complained that her husband was always controlling, overbearing and possessive.

“He’s the worst! I can’t go anywhere without him giving me a bad time about it,” she griped.

“I tell him all the time how controlling and overbearing he is, but he doesn’t want to change,” she went on.

That phrase, which she had repeated to him often over their 20-year relationship was an unintentional Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy (SFP). She was affirming that he was acting precisely how she didn’t want him to.

Of course, he wasn’t always overbearing. That’s not possible.

But she wasn’t focused on the (rare) times when he was accommodating, patient or trusting. Those behaviors weren’t in sharp focus because they didn’t hurt.

Hurt makes you want to blame someone. That’s just human. But blaming someone can actually extend your pain by prolonging the negative behavior. You unwittingly reinforce what you don’t want by focusing on it and saying it out loud.

The late, great Dr. Wayne Dyer compared repeating negative affirmations to going on a shopping spree where you and find a lamp, a table and a rug that you hate then say, “I’ll take these. Ship them to my house.”

When you get home to an ugly lamp, table and rug, you think, “How did these get here?”

Of course, they’re there because you ordered them. You focused on them. You nurtured them and brought them home.

SFPs are just like that.

2. Allison Saw Her Error

When I explained this to Allison, she got it instantly.

Instead of focusing on the times when he was overbearing, Allison decided to focus on the times her husband was behaving in a way that served her.

She thought about what she wanted to see in him and came up with the appropriate SFP: “You always see the best in me.”

But it sounded like such a ridiculous stretch that she could barely say it with a straight face.

She worried he would think she was being sarcastic or making fun of him.

That’s a great measure of an SFP: it usually feels like a bare-faced lie.

If you’re totally uncomfortable saying it because if feels fake, that means you’re on the right track.

It’s not what you’re used to—it’s something better. It takes you out of your comfort zone.

The first time Allison said her new SFP, she was filled with fear and wondered if her husband would see her shaking and call her out for lying.

But what actually happened was that Allison’s husband stepped into her vision for him. He rose to the occasion and became the man he saw reflected in his wife-mirror.

Instead of controlling, he became admiring and trusting. Instead of possessive, he was tender and supportive.

Allison was shocked.

“I can’t believe he’s the same guy,” she told me. “It’s such a transformation. But when I found my faith in him, he found his faith in me, too.”

What is your negative SFP? That your husband is sloppy? Too strict with the kids? Lazy? Workaholic? Distracted?

How could you replace the affirmation that doesn’t serve you with one that does? What would your new affirmation be?

Does it feel like a lie?

Because that’s a good sign you’re going in the right direction.

By Laura Doyle

Hi! I'm Laura.

New York Times Bestselling Author

I was the perfect wife--until I actually got married. When I tried to tell my husband how to be more romantic, more ambitious, and tidier, he avoided me. I dragged him to marriage counseling and nearly divorced him. I then started talking to women who had what I wanted in their marriages and that’s when I got my miracle. The man who wooed me returned.

I wrote a few books about what I learned and accidentally started a worldwide movement of women who practice The Six Intimacy Skills™ that lead to having amazing, vibrant relationships. The thing I’m most proud of is my playful, passionate relationship with my hilarious husband John–who has been dressing himself since before I was born.

101 replies on “How to Stop a Controlling Husband [Before You Smack Him]”

This I believe can work, but I don’t know if I want to. I just want to run away to be free. I have been treated better. I remember my happiness. It sucks to feel lonely and abused for almost 30 years. He also is so in love with his toys. He shines them more than he shines me if you get what I mean. It is sad that I want a divorce also to take half of the assets to teach him a lesson and to send him back where he was when he met me. I built him up and he puts me below him.

1.Thank you, Honey, for giving me a compliment of being your best worker.
2.Thank you, for spending more time with our family and taking the kids friends out in our ski and fishing boat.
3.Thank you for giving your all when you make love to me.
4.Thank you for teaching me how to fillet a fish.
5.Thank you for always being on time so I can count on you.
6.I appreciate that you are well prepared.

I just can’t help feeling many of the comments below are masking a deeper problem – it’s great to try a tactic to heal the rift, but what if it’s not such an easy fix? I personally find that always being the one to have to make the effort, and be the peacemaker is unfair – we all need to remember that no one deserves to be treated badly by an overpowering person. Whichever way you look at it, it’s a personality trait that is very, very hard to live with.

A, you’re right–no one deserves such treatment! That is so hard to live with. And you shouldn’t have to be the one always having to make the effort.

You speak my language. I felt the same way. It was so frustrating when my husband refused to make an effort, no matter how I tried, and I felt so hurt by the bad treatment.

That’s why my coaches and I have helped thousands of women, even–especially–when it’s not an easy fix.

If you’re ready to try a different approach, here’s a free Roadmap of 6 simple steps that have helped so many women so you can turn things around too!

My husband sleeps a lot and procrastinates. I’m a get up and go person. So you can guess this causes friction. My new phrase is “He always gets up and gets things done” uncomfortable yes but I’m willing to try.

Kimberly, me too! Ty for encouragement just knowing other people have problem helps and Jesus said “speak it as if it were”, I will do this also, Ty! And ty Laura!

Michal, I said them out loud to my husband. Still do. It’s scary and fun. You get to do whatever feels right for you.

This is a great article.
I have been in a rut of constantly apologizing in order to keep peace. If I dnt apologize he detaches and it’s very hard.
Im left hurt, alone and feeling shameful around him. With God’s help I find a way to love,hear him and try to make changes. Yet I struggle with forgiving him and how he calls out my worst. I just wrote an affirmation for him. I am praying for change and giving my self care.
I really enjoy your articles. They are so helpful to move forward.

This is exactly how I feel right now. If he hurts me, I talk with him about it and he gets upset so I apologise. If I hurt him unintentionally, I have to apologise. When he’s angry at me for something I don’t even realise I’m doing, I have to apologise. I don’t know what affirmation would help at this stage as I truly feel worthless and sad.

Holly, it sounds incredibly frustrating not to be able to talk about it when you feel hurt then always having to be the one to apologize! I can see why you’re feeling so sad and even worthless. I’m sorry you’re going through this. I remember when I kept feeling hurt and couldn’t share my feelings in a way my husband could hear, which was lonely and even more hurtful. I’d love to give you the tools to be able to communicate and leave behind the hurt and even inspire him to show some accountability too. It’s not too late to join the 5-Day Challenge happening this week. You can register for free at

This is the best blog post you’ve ever written, which is saying alot since they’re all excellent! Thank you!

This is beautiful, Laura. You have a gift for saying the unexpected truth.

I had to leave a very disturbed man. I look back, and it all snuck up on me, and there were things that grew slowly that I just didn’t see.

One red flag I ignored was his controlling behavior. I never said anything to him, didn’t even notice it until I was out of the situation.

A funny story, a big moment came while we were in the process of divorcing. I had wanted to get my oldest something special for his birthday. I prayed, kept hearing “Get him a dog.” I kept saying, “No. Really. What do I get him?” “Get him a dog.” “No, seriously….”

Finally I said, “Okay. You want me to get this child a dog. I want it half lab, half border collie. Five years old. Lives with children my boys’ age, female, neutered and raised in a day care center.”

I was, honestly, making half this up figuring I’d be off the hook.

First ad I saw…..even raised in a day care center! You don’t out create a Creator.

So, brought the birthday dog home. Wasband was in the driveway. He looked shocked. He said, “You weren’t supposed to get a dog.” (We weren’t living together.) I said, “What?” He said he was going to put it in the divorce decree I couldn’t have a dog.

His lawyer asked him why. He said, “I still want to have some control over her life.” Lawyer said, “You are sick. You need therapy.” He said, “I’m in therapy.” “Don’t stop.”

That was the moment….took that for me to see it.

So, having been around, spoken with, a lot of spouses of personality disturbed partners, it is a huge red flag. It’s usually, like me, something that snuck in and you don’t realize it.

I just felt concerned. I was afraid someone facing a similar situation might not know when it is a situation like you described, and when it is pathological.

I am guessing, you give what you suggest a good go….it’s brilliant advice…and observe?
Is there a line where you go from this is something that can be healed, to this is malignant?

I feel concerned that someone will be waiting to see if this works when they should be getting help.

Or, perhaps, it is a matter of knowing what the red flags are and see if there are others? It certainly takes more than one for a diagnosis.

Either way, do believe in what you are saying. I’ve seen it in action. Not with him. lol

Thanks so much!!

Pati, Thank you for the compliment and for the great story about your dog. For me, I’m always creating what I focus on and my experience has been that controlling husbands are not deal breakers. I know that you did exactly what you needed to do that was right for you, and I respect that. It’s been my experience that women who want to keep their marriages have amazing power to change the culture in them.

Hmmm. “You always talk to me and treat me in respectful and considerate ways.” That would be amazing. Thank you.

Me too! I But can I say it without a sense of sarcasm? Or will the sarcasm just bring it home?

And another one for me would be….”You are always so helpful, not just ordering me and the kids around, but actually getting involved and doing things….we are such a great team!”

Another great post Laura.

I am most intrigued by this idea and would love to use that phrase, “You always see the best in me.”

What is the context in which Allison used that phrase? I’m trying to picture when I could say it and am not sure how I could slip it in to conversation.

I THINK you are suggesting it should be used when our husbands DO compliment us, but that hasn’t been happening much so I’m getting stuck with figuring out how to start using it…


Thank you so much for the incredibly useful advice in all of your books and blog posts. You have helped me immensely and I am forever grateful to you.

Surrendered and Smiling, you don’t have to wait for him to do something before you use a spouse-fulfilling prophecy. Why do you have to wait for a compliment to offer up your affirmation? You could just say it spontaneously. It’s bound to feel uncomfortable because it’s different than what you’ve been affirming.

If your husband is controlling though, would this affirmation not just encourage him to continue to be controlling because he thinks he’s then doing what’s best for you? Wouldn’t that just confirm his beliefs and behavior? I’m having a hard time wrapping my head around this.

After thinking of wanting to try the method, and what phrase I would be using… I also am afraid doing this will continue to encourage and give me seal of approval on current treatment and behavior.

I love the thought of this technique, but I was wondering…isn’t it technically controlling him if we give him false compliments to become the man we want? And like Crystal and Lindsey said, I feel like it will only encourage him to continue treating me how he is. I’ve tried complimenting and saying positive things about him even when I’m feeling hurt but it’s never changed anything. Please help!

I’m newly remarried. My husband and I each have adult children and grandchildren. His children manipulate him constantly. He has yet to put our marriage or me as priority….even to the point of my having to get rid of 80% of my belongings when we blended households because there wasn’t room for my things….his children/grands hadv”stored” things in his home and he wouldn’t ask them to get those things. I need to mention that they all have homes and a place to put their things. How do you come up with words of affirmation “my husband makes me priority” or “my husband always cares for my feelings” if he doesn’t??

Vickie, I hear you having a lot of evidence that he doesn’t make you a priority but nobody is all black or white. What is the evidence that he does make you a priority? If you were standing before a judge and making a case that your husband did make you a priority, what would you include? What you focus on increases. What will be your focus?

Hi Laura. My husband believes in multiple partners. I don’t. He has mostly been very honest and faithful to me. I am really struggling to navigate this major value difference between us. I tried to do it but it hurts too much and I end up very angry and feeling negative about life. I’ve told him now I can’t. We seem to be at place of great uncertainty. Neither of us want to lose our marriage but I fear we are both secretly hoping the other will be able to handle what we want. I.e. hoping the other will have a transformational change.

I’ve definitely been chirping the negative story that he doesn’t care and can’t be trusted since he met someone he really likes.

How do we navigate this. How do I handle what I most can’t handle about him that seems to break my heart without leaving my marriage.

Pam, I wouldn’t be okay with multiple partners either! I can see why that doesn’t work for you. I think your message of “I can’t” is very clean and self-honoring. I wish I could be more help with this one, but I place a high premium on a faithful, loyal husband. You deserve that too.

” You always believe the best in me.” ” You have much faith in me and my ability.” ” You trust me. “

thank you Laura finally for this post! I was the controlling one in the earlier part of our almost 10 year marriage then halfway through I did work on being uncontrolling now my husband is the controlling one and seems to take advantage of my on and off submission. He controls the money, major decisions and everything else and keeps reminding me he is the boss. I do understand about the self fulfilling prophesy but when does it happen where they can just be who they are and its not up to me to create or recreate him. It can get tiring. One day he’ll be buying furniture at thousands of dollars coz I wanted to then the next he is so stingy that i have to pay a $5 toilet plunger myself. Im seriours this is true…..when can they just be the person they are without me having to have all these things made up in my mind about him. Do you still have that support forum. I cant afford any coaching right now as Im a SAHM but trying to get back out there to making my money. Plus he controls all the money too.

I’m glad you answered Pati with your experience. My neighbor was married to a man who was constantly controlling and demeaning. She felt like he was always watching her and would demean her behavior at home. He blamed her for him not getting leadership positions in church. He wouldn’t allow her to have friends or go do things regularly with someone else. If she wanted to go to a movie with the neighborhood women, he would tell her that she had to have dinner on the table and several chores done before she could go. She got home from work at 5 and we left at 5:30 so she couldn’t go. He would tell her that she was his friend and she didn’t need any other friends. He wouldn’t just disparage her but get right in her face and scream at her, red face and all. He was also a consummate liar. Everything he told her was meant to push her buttons, not to tell the truth. Her experience was with someone who was pathological. There are men who cycle. They’ll act better until they feel they’ve got their wife back where they want them and then start the emotional and verbal abuse all over again. These poor women should not be encouraged to try any longer when the men are pathological abusers. They haven’t been allowed to be who they really are all their married lives. This is based on my experience with my dear neighbors who are friends and “sisters.” I believe their situations go beyond just being controlling.

Tammy, Your neighbor’s experience sounds terrible, but it doesn’t sound any different to me than Alison’s experience in the blog post.

Wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if she applied the Six Intimacy Skills in her marriage? I can see a real possibility for her situation to improve because I see so many miracles in my work. If she’s not leaving her marriage, then it couldn’t hurt to try to make it better.

Hi Laura thanks for another great article! Always enjoy & benefit great from them! I have a question about spouse fulfilling prophecies. The thing that hurts the most about ky relationship with my husband is that he doesn’t initiate physical contact with me of any sort like hugging or kissing and i do he makes an excuse to push me away like im busy or now is not a good time. I have been complaining about this issue to him for a long time. I also complain that he doesn’t spend time with me. So how do i turn this around? How do i tell him you give me hugge and kisses and affection and you spend time with me when he does not? Also im the one who initiates physical intimacy nearly all the time. I know he loves me because he does so much for me like takes care of all financial needs, spends on me and the kids, takes part in household chores and does anything i ask of him immediately except this area of our marriage. Please give me tips on how i can have the physical and emotional intimacy i m craving for not just material things in my marriage. Thanks a lot

K, I can see why that’s the most painful thing about your marriage–it does sound painful. It used to be like that around here, but not anymore. Feeling desired is really important to me, so I get why you want that. You can certainly have a spouse-fulfiling prophecy like, “I know you can’t keep your hand off of me.” But often the situation you’re describing is an indication that the husband does not feel respected. Respect is the best aphrodisiac on the planet for men. Consider having a complimentary discovery call to determine the best move you can make for your relationship. I think you’ll find it very valuable. You can do that here:

I have a controlling husband who I love dearly but he is very distespectful to my 16 year old daughter (from another marriage). She is an amazing woman but slips up once in awhile with stress or a negative attitude. He can’t stand it and berates her and uses bad language in front of our younger girls. It kills me. I used to fight back but I’m trying to use my skills. Tonight I gently told him he was overreacting and I walked out. Not one of the skills, but I couldn’t help myself. She left the house in tears. I went to my bedroom. Family dinner ended with no one eating (again). I want to tell him that he always treats people the way he would like to be treated but I have no idea when to use these words.
What should I have done? I’m so angry I don’t want to sleep in the same bed with him. Usually I can’t wait to cuddle and fall asleep in his arms.

Jenny, Aw, sorry to hear about the upset at your house between your husband and daughter. Sounds enormously stressful. For me, the less I say when my husband has said something hurtful the more he hears his own conscience. If I criticize or correct, even if it’s just to say he overreacted, he may feel he has to defend himself instead of feeling accepted and having the quiet to reflect on whether that’s how he wants to act. Still, as a mama bear I get why you wanted to protect your 16-year-old and your other kids too. I’d feel the same way.

This is a great topic and such a common problem. Of course it deserves a longer conversation. You might consider applying for a discovery call to figure out the best move to make next for your relationship. You can do that here:

Thank you Laura! The morning after the blowout with my husband and daughter I tried your advice. I was still very upset but I didn’t show it. He started attacking her (only to me). I listened, nodded my head up and down, held my tongue and you wouldn’t believe what happened! He talked himself in a circle. He told me he was embarrassed that he overreacted. I smiled and we kissed and made up. It worked!!

I love this and LOVED your book. I really have seen such a transformation and feel happier too by working to appreciate all the good my husband does. It’s been over a week and things are getting better!
With that being said though, one issue we’ve always had from day one is my husband’s EXCESSIVE use of gadgets- phone, computer, ipad etc. It’s something that really bothers me to my core and is a problem that won’t go away. He has a very demanding job so his phone is always out, during dinner, playing with the kids etc and it drives me crazy.
What do you suggest I can make the self-fulfilling prophecy to find a solution? I’m so sick of always fighting about it.

Margarita, I’m so happy to hear things are better at your house already. As far as the phone distraction issue, I think nearly every wife I’ve ever talked to has a similar complaint: He watches sports, he plays video games, he’s always working, he’s always on his phone. Check to be sure you’re creating emotional safety. For me, I was such a porcupine my husband was seeking refuge from being stung by watching the TV. Also, you might consider catching him doing something good–that time that he’s NOT on his phone, you could say, “I love getting to talk to you like this with no distractions. It’s heaven!”

Thanks, that’s a great idea! It recently happened again and then i made myself distant and didnt talk to him much the whole night but then brought it up (or attacked is a better word unfortunately) before bed. He was annoyed and said I was always complaining as usual so we went to bed in a fight. We later spoke about it again and things got better but how do I remind him to get off when hes using it without him thinking I’m just complaining again? When he uses it it makes me feel like the other person or Facebook is more important than me and it hurts that he doesn’t want to use that time to spend with me after work because I look forward to spending time with him.

This is the first article that encourages instead of disparages relationship issues with a controlling husband. I’ve been married for 31 years and contrary to what’s more common, he’s the controlling one. No compliments, encouragement, lots of criticism and disrespect. Also, very little to no affection except in the bedroom. After many years, I’m about done. Still hopeful though as I’ve alas found this course!!! I will buy the book as well now. There are so many issues I could begin with, where do I begin? Affection, respect, being generous with money…. Does this work with a narcissist husband?

Gail, I get that question a lot! It deserves it’s own blog. I’ll get going on that. But I’m happy to say that the answer is a resounding YES! You can create a playful, passionate relationship with your husband for sure. And after 31 years, you’re obviously pretty committed. I admire that you’re open to making it better. I can’t wait to hear about how it goes for you. So exciting! All the things you mentioned–affection, respect, being generous with money, control, criticism–all of that will improve with The Six Intimacy Skills.

Often these methods come across to our husbands as a different type of controlling – manipulation. Mine sees through this and resents it.

Kyrie, I can see how it could be taken that way, but for me all of the Intimacy Skills, including Spouse-Fulfilling Prophecy, is about me–my perspective, what I’m focusing on, what I’m creating. If that is also the case for you, then what he might be saying is, “This is different. You’ve changed something.” It takes a little while to create emotional safety when it’s been missing, but over time he’ll catch on that you’re safe for him.

I tried this and said “you usually don’t let things like this get to you” when a truck cut us off and he started yelling and getting road rage. And he turned to me and said what are you talking about? Yes I do. I always let things like this get to me and he kept on getting mad at his truck. So can you help me figure out how I did this wrong?

Kyla, I love this story. Congrats on experimenting with an Spouse Fulfilling Prophecy. It takes courage!

Who says you did it wrong?

I’ve followed your advice on relinquishing control and having more time to take of myself and for the past 5 months things have drastically gotten better! But just this week he’s starting to want to tell me what not to wear and trying to control me which is really odd is this normal for things to switch and how do I get him to stop?

Joanna, I’m happy to hear that things have drastically gotten better for your relationship! Hooray! I think the word you’re looking for about him telling you what not to wear is “Ouch!”

I read a lot of articles like this and I’m to the point that I’m desperate to try anything. I’ve only been married for a few months — I foolishly believed that marriage would provide the security for my husband to trust me. I was wrong. My husband doesn’t let me go anywhere without him (not even to the grocery store; only work and then straight home), he doesn’t want me having girlfriends (I can’t go see them or go have lunch with them), and he even gets irritated when I spend too much time with my parents. If I have to buy lunch, I have to go through the drive-thru so no one tries to talk me. He micromanages every moment!!! He doesn’t like me wearing makeup (even though I wear a little bit sometimes anyway) and he is fairly strict on what I wear. He has had a hard time being honest so I feel that he projects his own past with dishonesty and cheating on to me. He is paranoid I will cheat on him. I don’t know how to get him to trust me — we’ve been together 2 years. Every time I talk to him about it he says “I just don’t want to deal with anything and I want to mitigate any issues” and shuts off. It’s like talking to a wall. The only positive is that sometime he tries to show me lots of affection. But when I know in the back of my mind how distrustful he is, it starts to feel like a trick or smothering rather than genuine affection….

He was married before me for about 5 years. He said he was a little insecure with her the first year or two. But nothing like he is with me. I guess he had to trust her after she got pregnant their second year of marriage….but I don’t want to test that theory out myself when our marriage is fragile as is. There is so much he did for her that he never did for me. Any sane woman would have split from this man long ago. But I do love him (he wasn’t always this bad — in the beginning its was much better which is why I have hope he can go back to that) and refuse to divorce. But what do I do when I start to resent him everyday?

Frustrated Wife, I can see why you don’t like your husband’s control–that sounds oppressive and I wouldn’t like it either. What I hear is that in order to keep him from getting upset is that you’ve agreed to these restrictions. Otherwise, the cost will be him yelling or pouting and there can be no peace that way. But I hear this isn’t a peaceful existence either. I admire your commitment to your marriage, and I think you have every reason to be hopeful that it can be the marriage you dream of where you’re free to roam without supervision. I think this deserves a longer conversation. Consider applying for a complimentary discovery call to connect with one of my coaches to uncover the best move you can make for your marriage. You’ll find it very valuable. You can do that here:

Some of these women are in relationships with selfish, abusive men. I stayed in a marriage with a man like that for 19 years. I tried ALL the tricks! Finally, enough was enough and I got a divorce. Staying together and trying harder to fix a dysfunctional relationship isn’t always the best solution. Sometimes the best option is to get out.

Lisa, I’m glad you did what was best for you. For me, transforming my relationship was not about trying tricks–it was about being authentic and vulnerable and respectful. Without the information I have now, it seemed hopeless and impossible. I’ve talked to thousands of women who were in the same situation. But with the Six Intimacy Skills we’ve been able to transform those broken relationships, and what seemed like a selfish, abusive man returned to being a tender, sweet, adoring husband. I know it seems impossible, but I see this happen all the time. I’ve learned that there’s no such thing as working on a relationship–there’s only working on myself and then my husband responds to me better.

I feel like that sounds like a sales pitch. Sometimes people are with alcoholics who are insecure and demeaning. I mean why bother trying to fix it when the man never bothers to try? When will it ever work if he only cares about being right and being in charge? I don’t get it?

How do you handle a situation where the husband has been into internet pornography for many years, and then I caught him and confronted him? I told him about the dangers of pornography, and he seems to have changed and is now kinder, after many years of emotional abuse, intimacy avoidance, and criticism. I used to be a secure person, but now I deal with a lot of anxiety and mistrust.

Suzette52, Sorry to hear about the emotional abuse, criticism and lack of intimacy you’ve been dealing with. Sounds lonely and painful! As for the pornography, I address this issue in my book, The Empowered Wife, which you would find very valuable. You can read a free chapter here and the either read it or listen to the audio version if it speaks to you:

Dear Laura, after 10 years of marriage in which my husband and his family have used me for a bank “because you gave so much” I am again facing another crisis. My stepson is expecting me to buy farming equipment for a venture. My husband says the equipment and part of the profit will be mine. The son manipulates me, my husband, and his mother. Never pays me back. They thoght this up and sprung it on me. This is the worst yet. Help?

I have been with my husband for 37 controlling years on his part, tells me how to dress, how to decorate the house , none of my pretty are in the house, he writes down on calender when he buys my ciggs, he says bc he’s Momonitoring, my smokes, he has all money and took my name off back accounts,with out me, i have to ask for everything, i use to love him , not sure i do anymore, i care if something happens to him , theres no love makinging anymore , by my choice, and i told him to sleep in living room in his chair as he did anyways , im scared of him , and never been on my own im scared, been with him sence i was 17 ,, please help

Teresa, I so admire your commitment to your 37-year marriage. It must be painful to be married to such a controlling man. I can see why you’re scared to stay and scared to leave.

When my marriage had become miserable, I couldn’t stand the idea of staying or leaving. Learning the 6 Intimacy Skills empowered me to honor myself and to change the culture of my marriage to one that’s mutually respectful rather than controlling. I got back the man who had wooed me and have the playful, passionate marriage I’d always wanted.

I would love to empower you too. I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

I am loving this idea, but am struggling. Would you happen to have a list of self fulfilling prophecy ideas?

Mary, thanks for the great idea of compiling a list. I invite you to start the list! Every SFP is tailored to what you’re going through.

For more support on how to use this tool in conjunction with the other Intimacy Skills, I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at

I’m going to start giving this a try. I feel like my husband doesn’t love me for who I really am, which is full of adventure and curiosity. He is more of a homebody and very routine. I have quit all of my volunteer commitments and limited my extrovert activities so we would stop arguing about it. Now I have a friend getting married (I’m in the wedding) and I want to travel to London for the bachelorette party. This topic is immediately shut down and he doesn’t even want to listen to me. He just doesn’t like that I enjoy spending my time and money traveling. I support his hobbies wholeheartedly and wish I had the same support and respect. It has caused such a rift that I feel like I can’t even talk to him about anything anymore because I feel ashamed around him of who I am and the things I like. It’s made me negative and withdrawn. More than anything, I just want support and understanding…I am going to work more on turning the hurt around and seeing if this lifts his heart as well.’

Going through a similiar issue as Cara. My husband takes time often to go out drinking with his friends and I stopped asking him about it in a bid of being surrendered and knowing my place.

However, he has stopped me from going out with my friends and also is not happy about me volunteering to help the community. I have already lost my best friend from school and now I am enroute of losing all other forms of social support.

I am wondering what kind of SFP is going to help me. It has come to the situation that when I ask him for permission to go out, he sulks before letting me go out and after the event I get questioned for going out and not spending time with him. I freak out just to ask him the permission… Sometimes he just shuts me off without even answering if it’s a yes or a no. I am so worried to even ask a second time and I end up just not going.

I know it’s been several months since your post, but perhaps that’s a good thing. It would have given you time to try out this method. You’ve described what I’m going through. And I’m debating staying or going. May I ask if it’s worked?

Okay I am going to force one out of my lips soon but, how do I not fall prey to the delouge of negative sfp’s thrown at me by my husband? He tells me I am this or that and think all these bad things about him. He thinks that I always side with others against him. He is a bit paranoid and narcissistic. I try not to respond to his accusations or say they aren’t true. Can’t afford coaching. Any suggestions would be appreciated. I did read the book btw (a couple times)

My husband of 20 years tries to control everything i do that involves money…..anything….from what i buy at the grocery store to what training classes i take for myself or my dogs. I make good money and have fought my entire life of 54 years to attain what i have and have what i want. My husband is 15 years older than me and retired at 55 promising me he would perfect stock market trading and make a bundle which, after 15 years, he’s still working on. He tries hard and is not lazy but, although he’s always has been frugal, has only gotten more so. Btw……my friends consider me very frugal. I consider him an eccentric and cheap! I’ve cajoled, pleaded, threatened and have completely, unlike my typical laid back personality, blown my top. I think he has obsessive compulsive personality disorder. Is there any hope?

This must be the worst advice I’ve ever read. If you have a controlling partner, emotionally abusive the only thing to do is to get out of the relationship.
This almost borders on the ridiculous.
I don’t actually believe in this story one bit.

First time here, so you mean you tell them what you want them to be , when ??? What if he gets mad ? Annoyed ? When do y find the right time to say anything ? In my case almost everything I say I have to becareful ! Help here please ?

Hi Laura. Wow, what a great advice. My husband is very controlling and Im ready to leave. I feel like I walk on egg shells around him. Everything I say is picked apart so I finally busy dont tell him anything. It saved me getting a lecture or just told it’s dumb or stupid.(his favorite words).
I never get a say where we’re go but I feel like thats my fault cause i’m so easy going. I feel like he is my father then my husband.
I feel like i’m not even a person cause he nit picks me to death. My cooking, my driving and any opinion I have. It’s wrong and of course stupid or dumb. Not sure anything can help this relationship.
I feel like i’m just wanting my own place where I can do what I want.

Can you tell me how to make a marriage of 12 years get better when there has been cheating on both sides, no paying attention or communication with an argument? I’m wife #3 and he has his good and bad days. But his bad days always make me feel depressed and unwanted. He claims to be faithful again but he’s always away from home doing for others and when I ask for something like visiting my mom, i get cursed or accused of cheating. How do I fix that? he can come and go as he pleases but not me. He is selfish, controlling, and bossy. He is 20 years and 6 months older than me.

I would have to disagree. I tried that and the abuse got worse. I would say that there is a fine line when walking down this path.
Be careful you don’t keep women with abusive relationships. No one needs that.

You are the worst ever Doyle! You actually encourage women to stay in abusive relationships. You are the anti-Goddess! I have no idea how you get anybody to believe your BS.

This is just one of the instances in six years that I am about to say but for the first time in my life in public.
It was Friday evening. I was working from home so got music on and started cooking and cleaning by 5 Got snacks and coffee served on dining table for him. Slightly hoped a bit of appreciation (though that has never happened so I usually stop trying then there would be this one day when I would)
Okay coming back to the day, I was happy and expecting him to be happy when he comes back and sees food in table and all effort for him. Instead, he said he wants to drink coconut water and then asked doesn’t he have the freedom to choose what he wants to eat.
Who will say this other than the one who intentionally wants to hurt you.

If it is about tired day back from work I have had many, almost all days.
Do I still say you see the best in me?

I was much more confident and happier before marriage. Because of all the controlling behaviour and deliberately undermining me and my efforts I get so confused and weak and feel what mistake did I do to deserve this

My husband is great most of the time! I feel like the romance has gone out of our marriage though! When he wants it he just shows me his junk & expects me to jump! What? How about kisses & hugs? How about telling me I’m beautiful & he wants me?

Wow ok obviously I’m not a wife but this even makes since if it was reversed. Amazing and thanks!

I have to disagree with this. I have tried this exactly, among alot of other things and he just got worse. It only seemed to make him behave more like he was a God that I was lucky to have. I think the reason your wife in your article finally was successful was because she left him and he learned to behave himself or he would lose her permanently.

Hi Laura, thankyou for the insight,however will this work with an abusive, manipulative husband ? i feel drained all the time trying to prove to my husband that I am a person who has flaws yet i deserve basic respect too.

So you basically just ignore the controlling rude behaviour and look on the bright side ? And allow him to speak to you like your an idiot incapable of doing something as simple as cutting a cake . No thanks I’d rather leave him and find someone who actually treats me with respect

I agree with Rachael. I have tried everything in 25 years. I have grown and evolved and he remains the same. He say he knows he is controlling and doesn’t care. He says if I don’t like it, I can leave. But he will take everything, starting with any money we have. My youngest child graduates this year. I am smarter then him. So I am leaving. He can have it all. I just want out.

Nope, this article is wrong. I was always nice, from the start until now. It’s been 20 years of marriage of me looking only at positive aspects and appreciating his care. And he still controls me economically and emotionally, stressing me and kids out, keeps me like I’m his pet. I can’t believe I let it happen, I was too positive, and I ignored my unpleasant experiences. So, my advice to the ladies stuck with controlling husbands: don’t let anyone treat you badly ever, leave right away, you deserve better. I don’t even have enough energy for anything by now…

No one, man or women should have to adapt their behaviour to accommodate a controlling partner.
After years of this type of controlling behaviour I got up and left. Best thing I ever did. Learned to love and respect myself and in turn met someone who loved and respected me right back.
This advice feels like it’s encouraging women to submit to unacceptable behaviour.

I agree. What she advises is stroking a husbands ego. He gets his grandiose sense of being the “man of the house.” There are millions of articles like this out there. They are all a round about ways to get women to comply to the whims of her husband, for the sake of the husbands natural inclinations to to control and dominate. Mental and emotional abuse should never be endorsed. Women who are mentally and emotionally abused end up damaged. You cannot change a man’s wiring. She is telling you to change yours. Don’t believe in nurture over nature.

I just found this website and starting listening to the podcast. I am hoping by using some of the suggestions will help. I have been married for 12 years. In the beginning my husband was sweet and loving. I got love notes and cards, and I felt cherished and loved. I got hugs and kisses often. We had great intimacy and magic. Then I starting seeing signs of him being a narcissist and very selfish, but I shrugged it off at first. He also started being controlling. I think he also has OCD. He always has to organize and straighten things the way HE thinks they should be. (One of the biggest fights when we were first married was when he “organized” my spice cupboard and threw things away he didn’t approve of because they weren’t “healthy”) I am an easy going person by nature, and don’t like conflict or confrontation. It is difficult for me to speak my mind or share my opinion. (I know it comes from my childhood, I was raised “children should be seen but not heard” basically up to my adulthood until I left home) Shortly after we were married we started a business. (I did not want to do it, as I feared that it would affect our marriage negatively and ruin our relationship- which it has) He did not want to hear it and started the business anyway. So over the years we have morphed into a Boss and Employee relationship instead of a loving husband and wife. (he is the boss and I am the employee) I knew the lines would be blurred if we started the business! I also started menopause at the same time and it made everything worse! The business is very successful, which I thankful because we are financially secure, but everything else is a mess. He can be very verbally abusive and shuts me out. He doesn’t understand or believe me when I have tried to explain to him the difficulties I am experiencing physically (and emotionally) with menopause. Because he has been verbally abusive, always being the boss, controlling the money, and always telling me what to do, how to do it, etc I feel resentful and hurt sometimes. We haven’t been intimate in over a year! I don’t want to share myself with someone who can be so mean sometimes! The thing is, that he is not always this way. It seems to go in cycles. He also has some issues from his childhood that were really traumatic that I do believe play a role in his behavior, but I don’t want to continue to use his childhood to shrug off his bad behavior any longer. I know the loving man who cherished me is still there. I am hopeful using the spousal fulfilling prophesy and more self care will turn things around for me. Thank you for all your wonderful advice!

I want to show this article to my husband because he’s been doing the negative SFPs to me as much as I have been to him.
But I’m worried it would make it too obvious when I try positive SFPs.

I have been with my husband for 10 years, he sleeps all day, only works 20 hours a week, refuses to help clean, doesn’t allow me vacations without him, tells how to do simple tasks, criticizes me for things he does too, ex. Driving with one hand on wheel, I do it he grabs at the wheel like I’m going to crash, when he does it it’s OK because he knows how to drive.I work 40+ hours a week and then I have to come home and clean, mostly up after him he just dumped clothes and dishes all over the place. When I asked to go on vacation with the kids I was told no. How do I get to begin to enjoy my life if he is constantly tell me what I can and cannot do, I need a partner someone that’s going to help me when I’m extremely tired from working someone’s going to share the responsibilities at home.

I cannot believe what I am reading. It is like you are expecting the abused, controlled person to pander to their spouse. How can you be positive and try to get your point across when someone is so full of rage they will yell over the top of you, get in your face, threaten and call you disgusting names as well as constant belittling and every day criticism for the tiniest thing.Including talking to friends on the phone, he times me when I am out, suggests that I am meeting someone ( not put as nicely as that) I peel potatoes wrong. I am in the kitchen when he wants to be etc. etc. As well as being told “I am sorry that I ever took up with you”. This behaviour is now extending to others. I am tired of walking on egg shells. I prefer to go out on my own for fear of embarrassment and humiliation. He is an expert at this too. He is the master of manipulation. But I should try to be “nice” and praise him. There are no consequences for his behaviour and I am at a loss as to what to do. In his own words it is just how I am! I am sick of hearing that I am too sensitive. I was asked why do I put up with it? My answer is why does he do it?

I don’t agree with this article unless you are the one who is overly criticising, burdening and unmotivating to your spouse (husband) and takes everything he expresses as an attack.

This is great advice! I’ve been doing this for all of my relationships. It really does bring out a different man.
I have been doing this in my marriage, however, my man still tends to have controlling actions. I’ve tried talking to him about it, but I get a huge backfire. And no matter how much I focus on the good things, the love and the care. He still brings up this horrible side, even name calling when things get too much for him, even when i didn’t have anything to do with it, I still get the bad end of the stick.

Is there an appropriate way to make someone see their bad actions?

Wow! Thank you for this advice. It is 3 am and I am googling phrases like, “My husband is cranky and boring” and “My husband is controlling.” After 19 years of marriage I need to give this a try. Your article gives me a new perspective, again thank you!

LOL! Positive affirmations don’t work for my husband. He truly believes he’s all that and I’m nothing. He not only continues to boss me and my daughters around but now he has believed all I praised him for and has not paid me a compliment in years. Obviously feels threatened by my wonderful friends and family who always support me and give me praise. His own family is amazing to me. He’s full of anger and insecurity. They warned me before I married him. They called him “Grumpy” and I just couldn’t see it until now. It all depends on what you’re willing to live with. No magic trick

To be clear, in the moment, when he’s flipping out, I’m to look at him and say
“Honey I appreciate how supported and loved I feel with you.” Or I ignore him when he’s flipping and comment when he’s behaving in a supportive way?

If it’s the later, what am supposed to do when he’s flipping? Ignore him?

Genuinely want to try this but not sure I know how to utilize it properly.

Hi. I do not even know where to begin mine. Married for 20 years, had together 2 kids, grown up now but still at home. Our family is always full of freaking control (the subject here is the husband), ego, yelling, negative comments, isolation, no gratitude, do this, do that, don’t do this, don’t do that, why this, why that, who put this here, what for, the list is no ending. For him, you cannot trust anyone, you need to say where you go and lately the financial status with threating to destroy the joint account. when there is a problem, one of us is always the guilt. He never loves my family, they always got some criticism and he forbids us to talk to them often. He always compared the kids with others, no compliments, no encouragement, if they made some mistakes, it is my fault, my education. He got the tendency to bully or underestimate them during childhood and teens period. they never got some father support in anything they did. They never gave us any problems as kid, they try to be respectful, help at home, get their diplomas. I think part of the behavior is psychological. The day, he did his drama and the night he does his praying with God. I am hurt since many years and the kids are worse because they just do what they have been told to avoid the yelling. We need help. I am believer too and I want to keep my hope high to save our family. I did my best during those past years as a wife, I work but I have no social relationship because he would not accept it. I lost my smile and my faith and I feel sorry for my kids. Please, help me to overcome the situation. Thank you very much.

Marie, this sounds incredibly hurtful and scary. You shouldn’t have to lose relationships, your faith and even your smile. That’s not right. I still remember wondering if my marriage was hopeless and being scared to try, which is why my coaches and I have helped thousands of women. We can help you too. Get a coach so you can stop feeling hurt, blamed and controlled, and start feeling desired, taken care of and special!

I work and have no social relationships either. My husband hates my family, my two brothers, my daughter from a previous marriage. Therefore, he doesn’t now like my two granddaughters either. Life is sad for me in this respect. We had a son together and that has been nice because we both share in the love for our child together. Basically, I live a dual life. It sucks.

Tammy, that sounds so sad… and lonely. I know you just want to be a happy wife, but how can you be if you have to live a dual life? It sounds like you’ve had enough and are ready to turn this around.

If so, you have perfect timing. The 5-Day Adored Wife Challenge is coming up so you can get what you want in your marriage. Join us for FREE at

What if your husband of over a decade accepts the compliment about him and then boasts of how amazing he is, then insults the one who gave him the compliment (me), criticizing my intelligence, body mass index, laziness level, etc. I have given my husband so many compliments to which he always says “I know, I’m awesome,” and he then continues to insult, berate, and basically tell me how I married up and he married down. I live a nice life from the outside looking in. But inside I feel ripped up and ready to run, and trapped. No amount of telling him compliments to rise up to would work.

Lillian, OUCH! I can see why you’re feeling trapped and ready to run. These insults must hurt so much. You shouldn’t have to hear words like that from your man, especially when you’re complimenting him! That’s not right. I still remember thinking my marriage was hopeless and being scared to try, which is why my coaches and I have helped over 15,000 women fix their relationships. We can help you too so you can stop wasting time feeling hurt and stuck, and start feeling adored! Here’s your free roadmap to turn things around:

Hi Laura
I’m just wondering why Whitney the wife says “helpful’ comments taking her husband hour to do something is considered criticism and control and disrespect but when the husband does the same thing you encourage the wife to t take a positive spin. It just seems like 2 sets of rules. Wives also want to be respected. I have tried the skills and try to be respectful but when it is not reciprocated I feel resentful. Please advise.

Miriam, great question. I can see why you feel resentful when respect isn’t reciprocated, especially in light of your efforts to try a different approach! You deserve respect, which should be mutual. My problem was I couldn’t get my husband to respect me, but when I changed my approach he responded so much better (and respectfully)! I want that for you too.

Sounds like something is missing for sure if you’re practicing the Skills and he’s not responding in kind. I’d love to see you get some support. Here’s the waitlist for The Ridiculously Happy Wife coaching program when you’re ready:

Over all my husband is wonderful and amazing in many ways but has a really bad controlling side. I can’t do anything without him. He tells me when I can dress up, what to wear, and doesn’t want me to be around anyone without him. It’s a horrible feeling. My mother is sick and I want to spend a couple of days with her. She is 2 hours away. He is giving so much hell for it that I’m afraid to make the plans. I know that all of this control is out of extreme fear of loosing me or me cheating on him although I have never gave any sign of being like that. It’s so hurtful and exhausting. But the other side of him is extremely helpful, charming, romantic, funny, generous and loving. I just need his understanding, support and trust

Amie, being controlled this way, in all these ways, sounds so painful. You shouldn’t have to go through hell or be afraid to make plans to visit your own sick mother! I remember how awful it was when I couldn’t get the support and trust I needed from my husband, and how hopeless I felt. That’s why my coaches and I have helped so many women have complete transformation, even when he’s the one who’s controlling.

We can help you too! You can get the support of our coaches and understanding community right here.

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