Top 10 Ways to Control Your Husband

Top 10 Ways to Control Your Husband

I Tried All of These Embarrassing Ways and None of Them Work

For years I truly believed if I could just get my husband to be tidier, more romantic, and more considerate everything would be fine in our marriage. I told him as much, and while that didn’t improve things at all, it did create wall-to-wall hostility and tension in our home.

For a long time I didn’t even realize I was controlling. I thought I was just being helpful, acknowledging how I felt, and being honest. Little did I know I was shooting holes in the bucket of our intimacy.

It wasn't until I learned to recognize my controlling behavior and make a different choice that the romance returned. Click To Tweet

On the road to giving up my controlling ways, I tried to make modifications, tried to be more subtle, even thought I was improving at times with some of the techniques below. But all of it got me to the same lonely spot: wondering why my husband was withdrawn, distant and defensive.

For the record, here are all the embarrassing ways–none very effective–that I tried to control my husband:

1.     Making helpful suggestions like, “if you put things in the file drawers you’d be able to find them more easily,” and “If you didn’t fall asleep with the radio on you’d sleep better and be more rested.” See how helpful?

2.     Speaking on his behalf. People would ask him questions-doctors, waitresses, delivery people–and I would answer for him to make sure that everyone got the right information and impression of our family.

3.     Making decisions for him, like how much to contribute to his 401K, which clothes to get rid of in the closet so we (read: I) would have more room. Since I believed I was smarter than him, this was only logical.

4.     Shooting him disapproving looks. I frowned at the lettuce he bought (too wilted), grimaced when he talked about buying a new car (too expensive) and rolled my eyes at the shows he enjoyed (too low-brow). I was quieter but no less annoying.

5.     Asking leading questions, i.e., Is that what you’re going to eat for lunch?  Do you have to leave so early to get there? Does that shirt go with those pants? Does this line of questioning make you want to smack me? Probably…

6.     Announcing that “we” need to go to counseling. The underlying message, no matter how you look at it, is that he’s a failure as a husband. In my experience, this wins hands-down for the most expensive way to try to control your husband.

7.     Telling him how I would do things, as in “I usually go slower on this road because it’s so narrow,” or “I would take my car in for service if it was doing that.” It’s amazing just how much I knew about practically everything back then.

8.     Criticizing him by saying things like, “Don’t you see how you’re being passive-aggressive?” or “It’s just that you’re such a slob.” As if my insights would help him finally understand the error of his ways and correct them right on the spot. Isn’t that how human nature works?

9.     Making demands like “you should call your mom,” or “you should diversify your portfolio.” I felt this was okay because clearly I was right.

10.  Undoing and redoing things he’d just done and then showing him how I did them. I’m talking about important, life-shattering things like loading the dishwasher properly and making the bed. If I didn’t show him, how would he ever learn? Poor thing!

These days, I’m happy to say I’m more likely to choose intimacy and connection with my husband over indulging my urge to control. Of course my marriage is much better for it, but I had no idea there would be so many other benefits to learning how to do that, but there are.

Have I left any controlling habits off this list? If you’ve ever tried to control your husband in ways that I forgot to mention, I’d love to see them in the comments. I hope I’m not the only one who ever did these things…


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53 thoughts on “Top 10 Ways to Control Your Husband”

  1. Oh My Goodness. You must be in my house. I see it and I’ve done it. I refold the clothes he’s folded because I “have a system” and it has to be “just so”. I correct how he drives. I roll my eyes… mumble…cut my eyes at him. I need to stop this — like yesterday!! It’s not helpful. I think I’m smarter than him because he sometimes jumbles his words. I’m a snob – and I admit it. I really need to stop and appreciate him for who God made him… a good man. A man that loves me and is a good person. Perfect – he is not… but neither am I — by a longshot! Thank you for this…

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  2. Lately I’ve been feeling like I’m living my parents marriage and I was angry and bitter. Then I realized I was acting like my mother, a controlling, angry, bitter woman. What an eye opener. Thank you for the great read.

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    • So basicly, you have let go. You are happier because you dont fuss over 3 simple thing you wanted out of a relationship. You’ve learned to live without them, he didnt make the effort to do them to make you happy and he is off the hook. That’s what you are saying right?

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  3. I’m wincing because I just did 9 the other day when his mom was leaving our house and he hadn’t said happy birthday to her. She’s sensitive about those kinds of things so I told him he should go do that. I’m also guilty of 2 because my husband often ignores servers and is rude to them because he doesn’t acknowledge their presence or thank them. It’s so tough because thoughtfulness and politeness are two of my biggest values.

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    • Hi Lauren. I hear you about the lack of thoughtfulness and rudeness. That also upsets me and I have a very hard time with it but if I don’t bring it up, my husband is oblivious. BUT, if and when I do bring things to his attention, he doesn’t care anyway. So, my conclusion is that he is simply rude and he doesn’t care that he’s rude. But it embarrasses me and I don’t like it and makes me think less of HIM. I understand completely what Laura is saying but me not saying anything doesn’t help either. So I don’t think the “not bringing stuff to his attention” rule will ever work in my case. I don’t know what else to say. I sure can’t fix him, have no energy to do so and have less and less desire to do so. That can’t be good either. He is who he is and if it negatively affects the marriage and my feelings, I can’t solve it. I bought both books and read all the columns too. I can’t worry about it, I need to think of me.

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  4. I see myself in all of this EXACTLY!!..and I’m trying but I am noticing that keeping my mouth shut in some cases, is causing me to feel resentful and distant even though he seems grateful for the change (so far). For example, I allowed him to use my credit card yesterday and he lost it and then I had to cancel my card, call companies that take payments off my cards etc… and I was fuming inside but didn’t tell him what I was really thinking which is “why are you such a F*@$ up!!.. and the other day when he was home all day while I was at work and I came home to a disaster and no dinner!!..Is that okay? I told myself that I can work with and process my feelings without having to take it out on him, but it’s hard.

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    • Nicole, I can see why you were upset about that I’m not one to just suck it up and push down my feelings, but I also love having intimacy in my relationship. Turns out that the more I honor myself the easier it is to have that deep connection and also be the dignified woman I want to be. I remember days just like you describe where I would work and he would be home doing…nothing as far as I could tell. Now he is always looking for ways to take care of me and make me happy. The Six Intimacy Skills did all that and more. I’m so grateful to know them!

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    • Nicole, I can relate. But what I realized is the more I allowed him to make mistakes and not berate him for it the better things got. My husband has lost his driver’s license at least 3 times, our credit cards, our child, etc. It has taken a lot of time and patience but my husband came to the conclusion on all his home that he had too many distractions ruling his life. I realized my husband didn’t have a father figure teaching and training him up. He also didn’t need a women telling him how to be a man either. I began to trust God through my husband and suffering along with him through his trials and tribulations, after all isn’t that what wives are to do, to be there for the good and bad? Finally, things are getting good.

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      • Tonya, This is very encouraging!! I will try and stay the course and trust that things improve as I change my attitude and way of interacting with him. Thank you for sharing. It means a lot to have the support of this community as I strive towards a better, more intimate relationship!!!

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  5. My husband has disappeared! The man I married, I mean. He has taken to the couch and given up. He does have health issues. He is six years older but now that I’m retired and chomping at the bit to enjoy it all, he has shut down.
    Scared and frustrated! And Im tired of urging him because I sound like a nagging wife. Can you help?

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    • Cynthia, My husband is 11 years older, and I had the same experience that the man I married disappeared and gave up. I thought it was hopeless and nearly divorced him. But now I have the marriage I always wanted. I’m hosting a free webinar that you would find valuable where I show you exactly what to do to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life:
      https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/

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    • Cynthia, Laura teaches a skill called “expressing your desires in a way that inspires.” It is very different than nagging, feels better, and yields better results. It often starts with “I’d love to…”
      Instead of, for example, “I wish you’d turn off the tv and spend some time with me,” it might look like “I miss you.” (skill of vulnerability) AND “I would love to explore a new restaurant downtown” or “I would love a romantic evening.” It avoids criticism and it lets our partner know how they can please us. It has made a difference in my marriage, giving up communicating in a way that sounds like complaining and moving toward expressing my desires. I used to think I was just “telling the truth.” I still tell the truth but in a way that yields better results. Teresa

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  6. Maybe I’m just new to this, but I don’t see the problem with some of these. Particularly making suggestions, and asking questions (especially ones where you legitimately want an answer, not just want to criticize). I think there are plenty of ways to respect your husband without becoming submissive.

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    • Taylor, I agree completely–there are plenty of ways to respect your husband without becoming submissive. I call myself a surrendered wife because I recognize that I can’t control anyone but myself–not even my husband. I can focus on making myself happy, and I when I do, the intimacy improves. I didn’t see any problem with most of these 10 ways either at first, but my husband sure did! And after a while, so did I. It feels good to be able to speak for myself and keep my dignity. Wouldn’t trade it for anything now.

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  7. I have a thousand of them. The latest (before we separated and almost divorced) was: If you use the taller ladder you wouldn’t have stand on your tippy toes. Because I, like you, knew better 😉

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  8. I just finished reading your book and am beginning my practice in surrendering. Boy, is it conscious effort right now, but I am already seeing results! I relate to your former self so much. You are such a lifesaver. ? Thanks for sharing your insights with the world!!!

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  9. I love this and I agree we all need to be aware of these things and not fall into the trap of controlling someone else’s behavior. My question is what happens and how do you deal with it when it is your mate who is exhibiting this behavior? He does and has done most of these behaviors for years and anytime I try to address the situation it causes a problem.

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  10. I used to show my disapproval in no uncertain terms when my husband would come in the door with a few groceries we didn’t need (because I had just done the shopping) or when he would bring me a treat when I wasn’t hungry or was trying to cut back. Now I’ve discovered that it’s much more conducive to intimacy to express my thanks and kiss him for his thoughtfulness, even if it means that the fruit goes bad before we have a chance to eat it all. Your book helped me change my ways, and your blog keeps me on the right path. Thanks, Laura!

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  11. I wish, but I am in that my husband controls me, which is bad, if I say anything it gets him mad, belittle me, in private, but even more he posts girls pictures on his facebook pages and comments about them, can’t say on here, He drinks because he says he is too stressed, we all are, I have told him if he is not happy to leave, this is not the man I married, that guy left and I don’t how and when, if he will return, at times he shows his good heart when we are in public to some people, but others he doesn’t care. I just keep praying for him.

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  12. OK! So I am very confused. I let go of control (and practice the 6 intimacy skills to the best of my ability for some weeks now). It helped in terms of arguing as we don’t as much anymore but now he told me that he is indifferent toward our marriage and doesn’t really care anymore. He is neither happy nor unhappy and says the damage is done although I don’t argue as much he doesn’t want to open up to me ever anymore because of all the criticizing I did for over a year. He said (rather I asked one by one) he still finds me sexually attractive somewhat but does not feel emotionally attached to me. And he doesn’t know how he can be happy or what he wants. All I get from him about everything is a big “I don’t know” “I don’t know what I want”. He says it is not my behavior per se that makes him feel this way, it is just ME! He just doesn’t feel excited in our marriage and doesn’t feel excited when we do activities together or when he sees me etc. He just wants to be alone.. I don’t get it I am following the skills but now I am stuck here! I did not expect this! Help!

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    • Muge, Sorry to hear about your husband saying those hurtful words! Very painful. I would love to see you get with one of my coaches and get support around this. Everything is possible in your relationship–all that you’re dreaming of. You just need a guide. I couldn’t have done it alone either. Congratulations on having the courage to practice The Six Intimacy Skills! Not everyone has that courage, and fortune favors the brave. You’re going in the right direction.

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    • I can really relate to Muge. I have gone through the same thing. Mine even tells me that he “Hates Me”. He doesn’t want to try. He wants me to take all the blame and apologize for each and every little thing I have ever done to wrong him. I try very hard to not dwell on the negative things and try to start each day fresh. He holds on to all the negative and never lets it go. I don’t even remember half the things he is talking about that he is holding against me. My memory is not like an elephant like his is. He won’t talk to me, but yet he will go to his ex-wife’s house and talk to her about ALL our problems. This does NOT help our situation, as she wants him back.

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      • Angela, That sounds so discouraging! I wouldn’t like that either. And how painful to hear him say he hates you. Ouch! Good news though–you can turn this around even if he won’t try. The Six Intimacy Skills will be very valuable for you. They are all laid out step-by-step in my book The Empowered Wife. You can read a free chapter here:
        http://getcherished.com/

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  13. My wife does all this to me and she justifies her behavior by saying things like”you do it too” when in reality she ‘s the only one. Yells at me then justifies it by saying “I’m not yelling, I’m talking loudly” She does whatever she wants, but expects me to ask permission.

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    • Jeona, I’m sorry to hear about the cold war at your house. I still remember those at my house, and they were no fun. I’m happy you found your way here because you have the key to making things playful and passionate again. I hope you get your hands on the Six Intimacy Skills. I lay them out in my book/audiobook, The Empowered Wife, which you can read a free chapter of here:
      http://getcherished.com/

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  14. Hi I find myself in these situation too, been married for three months now. I and my hubby argue alot, our opinions are completely different, I find myself regretting going into this marriage. E doesn’t take his bath at night, uses cologne b4 even bathing in d morning all dis freak me out. Infact this argument is really killing mi. Yes I know I can be controlling n I really wanna change it n live peacefully.

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    • Sparkle, I’m sorry to hear you’re in the heartbreaking place of regretting your marriage. I love your awareness and accountability, and acknowledge you for your desire to change. I remember how it was to have that pain point–that one thing I could not accept about my husband–and the frequent arguing. But if I can turn things around to have the peaceful marriage I enjoy today, I know you can too! The amazing thing is that once I restored respect, his behaviors started to change too. I have a free webinar coming up that is all about how to make that very change, so I know you’ll find it valuable. It’s called How to Get Respect, Reconnect and Rev Up Your Love Life. You can register for it here: https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

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  15. I have been married for 16 years, when it’s good it’s amazing, when it’s bad it’s very bad. He cuts me deep with hurtful words like I hate you and I wish I would have never met you. Over the last few years he has started drinking a lot and I feel like it has changed who he is. I like the miss the man I married. I have been fighting for my marriage for several years now and am getting worn out. We have 4 children together and I feel like a single parent mom in addition to running our business that he is suppose to be my partner in. I definitely do all of these things and have been working hard to stop, but it’s really hard when he makes bad decisions and teaches our kids inappropriate ways of behavior Which I believe is a byproduct of the alcoholism.

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    • Mommy of 4, what you’re going through sounds exhausting. You are doing so much! I admire your courage and commitment in fighting for your marriage all these years.

      I remember when hurtful words were the norm in my marriage. It was such a struggle not to be able to respect his choices or bad decisions. Then I found the 6 Intimacy Skills, which restored the peace and passion–and inspired him to be his best self.

      I would love to see you get the support and respect you deserve. I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

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  16. I asked him things like those … but burst at me saying …. “I am not your kid to talk me like that” Though I was pleasing him to do so .

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    • Marwa, it sounds hurtful that your attempt to restore the intimacy was met with such resistance. I love your commitment to staying the course.

      When I started practicing the 6 Intimacy Skills, I felt discouraged when I encountered resistance. I had done the old dance for so many years that it took my husband time to catch up to my new dance steps! Having the support of other surrendering women really helped me.

      I would love to give you the support for these Skills to turn your relationship around. I invite you to my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

      Reply
  17. The comments are amazing and I can relate with quite a number. I too believed that I was smarter than him and would openly correct him in public whenever he made a mistake (especially grammatically) not knowing the damage I was piling up. Thanks to Laura’s Six Intimacy skills and a few other books that I came across, I have learnt better and still working on it.

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  18. I feel so supported and validated by all the women who are struggling WITH the Steps and with all the Work. I have been practicing the work and seeing amazing results for a while (2-3 years). But as soon as I miss a step it’s as if we never had an improvement. I feel like it all depends on me. Now he hasn’t spoken to me in over a month(It’s a searing pain just to write it) even though we still live together (it sounds unbelievable, right?) We pretend in front of the kids so they shouldn’t suffer. He realized and is very hurt that I don’t trust him. He betrayed my trust (He admits that). It was 3 years ago. He claims I wrote him off after that. I didn’t then, but stuff came up again and I am so anxious all the time. When I was practicing the Steps it felt great but not real. We are going for help. Nothing is helping. I have tried the Work again. I’m giving it up to G-d and praying for inner strength and healing for both of us.
    Jeonna and Muge – I feel with you!!
    Terri – did u get back together just by practicing the Skills? I am so confused. Is it only up to me? 100% that i reap the benefits but i dont think he is receptive now. There’s too much hurt and anger on both sides.

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    • Connie, it is so painful to have such a disconnect with your husband, especially after the changes you made. I really admire your commitment in choosing your faith over your fear.

      You are not alone. Many clients initially express frustration that they have to do all the work when the husband should be doing his part. I agree! But I couldn’t get my husband to do his part. I did drag him to counseling, but it only made our disconnect worse. The 6 Intimacy Skills gave me the power to turn things around, regardless of whether he was resistant.

      I know you can heal your marriage too. I invite you to apply for a complimentary discovery call to see how working with a coach would fit for you. The call alone will bring you clarity: https://lauradoyle.org/marriage-relationship-coaching.

      Reply
  19. Wow, it’s reassuring to know am not the only person in these situations, I remember my husband telling me one day that I am controlling and I w shocked and told him am not that am just expressing my feelings and telling what I feel is right… How silly was I. Before I discovered Laura couple of weeks ago I had already been praying and asking God for ways to express my love and needs without oppressing. It really takes conscious efforts. I used to think this controlling habits are expressions of love, care and concern. Another destructive habit I have/had, is wanting to control his cell phone use, because he is in it almost all the time, has he wakes up, as he comes back from work etc. But as Laura pointed out, control is triggered by fear and the moment I started being conscious of what my dear was I decided to start working on me and not him or his habits. Am at 7months and it nearly felt like a nightmare at a moment but I realized I was blaming him instead of focusing on me.
    Thank you Laura for your commitment to helping women out there.

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  20. Hi Laura,
    I got a divorce 6 months ago (I was the controlling one in our relationship) and now I met this amazing guy a month ago. I feel that he is everything that my ex-husband was not and he literally swept me off my feet. But, after one month of communication I realized that he is the controlling one! And omg how controlling he is!! He says he doesn’t want me to talk to any guys period, does not want me to work(which I am ok with),every time I go somewhere or do anything he says I have to “report” to him. He wants to know my every move. I tell him he needs to trust me as I never gave him a reason not to. But he is soooo overposessive, he says he is a jealous person and even jokingly he says he doesn’t even want a male mosquito touching me. He even gets pissed if I thank the car that lets me pass from the crosswalk. He says I don’t have to say hi back if a guy greets me in the mall. He prefers that I don’t even go to Starbucks alone and sit and work there by myself. One time I went to opera with my girlfriends and some random guy was sitting next to me. He asked if there was a guy sitting by me and I didn’t lie. Boy, did he flip!!!!! I tried to explain to him that I can try to be the person he wants me to be but this is too much for me and I slip and I can’t change into a different person. He takes this the wrong way and says that I don’t listen to him, I don’t respect his wishes and I don’t care about this relationship as much as he does. Apart from this he is the perfect guy! I am just confused, what is this mess that I am in?! Any ideas? Thanks!!

    Reply
    • Meghan, yikes, I’m sorry to hear that the otherwise perfect guy is so controlling and possessive. I can see why it’s too much for you!

      Many of my clients are with controlling men. The 6 Intimacy Skills empower these women to honor their desires and limitations. Amazingly, the man ends up being inspired to become his best self too.

      I would love to see you get the respect and trust you deserve. How can I support you?

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  21. Hello Laura, am so done with everything happening to me now.
    M husband is a social media freak he does not just chat but goes extra mile sex chatting with ladies even seeking for invitations from ladies. We already have a four month old baby girl. please help mee out am hrtbroken. thanks.

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    • Eucharia, I can see why you’re feeling heartbroken! I would be too if my husband were doing that, especially with a new baby on your hands.

      I certainly didn’t approve of my husband’s activities when my marriage was in trouble. With the 6 Intimacy Skills, I learned how to attract him back to me. Today I feel desired, cherished and adored.

      If I can do it, you can too. I’ll show you how in my upcoming free Introductory Course on the 6 Intimacy Skills at https://lauradoyle.org/swewtraining/.

      Reply
  22. You really need to find a way to get your message to women before they get married so there isn’t any damage in the relationship to fix.

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  23. This is so helpful. Its amazing how I have habits that just give my husband subtle disrespect by correcting him, unsolicited advice, complaining . There is so much I can improve. Thanks for the help Laura!

    Reply

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