15 Warning Signs Of A Controlling Husband (And What To Do If They Sound Familiar)

Trust your gut.

upset woman with controlling man behind her Violator22 / Shutterstock

One of my friends recently came out of a very bad, toxic relationship with an incredibly controlling person.

It took a long time for her to even realize that he was as controlling as he actually was. She'd just say, "He does it because he cares about me." I understand that the two can look similar at times.

The difference between a caring husband and a controlling husband is that one still allows you to make the final decision — and the other one will guilt, pressure, or even threaten you until you choose what he wants you to choose.


Donna Andersen, the author of Seduced by a Sociopath and founder of Lovefraud Education and Recovery, explains, "Controlling husbands don't start out that way. In the beginning, they treat you like gold, then they slowly start to criticize, disapprove of and overrule your actions."

If your husband does any of this, you're married to a controlling man. But would you be able to recognize the characteristics of a partner like this?

A husband with controlling behavior may prevent you from seeing your close friends and family members, will withhold affection as punishment, want you to dress or act a certain way, and constantly guilt and criticize you.


Andersen adds, "When you stop going where you want to go, doing what you want to do, or even wearing what you want to wear, because you're worried about what your husband will say, you are married to a controller."

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Those are just a few traits of a controlling husband, but this type of behavior can hurt your marriage and even destroy it.


Similar to a controlling person is a control freak. But how do you know if you are married to a control freak?

Someone who is a control freak needs to have power over every little thing you do, won't let you make decisions for yourself, pressures you to do what they want, and might even have you ask for permission before acting upon your own needs and desires.

Not sure if you're in a controlling relationship? Look for these signs and understand that they are indicators of emotional abuse.

15 Warning signs of a controlling husband

1. He talks down to you and tells you he's doing things for your best interest.

Does he regularly tell you that you're not capable of making your own decisions?


You're a grown woman. You were — and still are — fine without his guidance in your life. Him telling you what to do with the excuse of "your best interest" is controlling behavior — and it's never in your best interest.

2. He sometimes acts like you're a puppy.

Many puppy trainers will swat puppies if they eat the wrong thing or do the wrong thing. If a guy literally pulls food away from you or gives you or swats you on the hand when you grab for a dress you want, it's time to get out.

He's a controller — and he's an abuser, too.

3. If you don't do what he says, he withholds affection, gives you the silent treatment, or even withholds finances until he gets his way.

This is not caring. If he cared about you, he'd still provide you with the things you need to feel happy and safe. A guy who literally withdraws affection, refuses to talk to you, or potentially cuts you off from money, is a guy who is looking to control you.


4. You honestly don't feel as happy as you used to.

This often is a red flag that it's actually controlling behavior that you're experiencing, rather than caring behavior. A big factor is if you're scared of spending time with him.

5. He keeps cutting you off from your friends.

This is one of the most overt indicators of an abuser.

Abusers begin their control cycle by convincing their victims to stop talking to family and friends. Sometimes, they even go so far as to personally step in and ruin relationships with others.

If you notice this in your relationship, leave him immediately. It could save your life.

6. The things he controls really don't make much of a difference in life.

If he's trying to control the little things in the relationship, it's a sign that he wants to move on to bigger things. Your partner is not caring. Your partner is controlling.


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7. He doesn't listen to you.

A guy who cares is a guy who listens. If he steamrolls you, tells you what you think, and won't listen to your side, he's a controlling, abusive person who's gaslighting you.

8. He tells you he's doing this to 'improve you.'

In a caring relationship, you don't try to "improve" your significant other. You're not a house. You're not a car. You don't need work to be acceptable.

9. You find yourself second-guessing your judgment.

This is not a good sign. Take this as the glaring hint you need to leave this guy, because he's messing with your mind and controlling you by making you feel confused and useless.


10. People have warned you that he's controlling and they don't like the way he treats you.

Especially if your friends and family members have both pointed this out, listen to them! They are trying to save you from a controlling person!

11. You walk on eggshells or you're worried what he'll think about every little thing.

This is a sign that you're being controlled. If what he was doing was really about caring, you wouldn't find yourself tip-toeing around. Instead, you'd be comfortable talking to him about what's bothering you and how you feel.

12. If you think about it, the dynamic between you and him is really skewed.

It's not normal to be in a relationship where he has all the power. If you notice him being in control of everything and you constantly pleading and wheedling to get your way, there's something wrong.

13. He guilts you.

Not only is this very manipulative behavior, but it's also a sign that you need to leave. You should never feel bad about doing something the way you enjoy doing it!


14. He's made scary gestures or threatened you if you don't do what he says.

This. Is. Abuse. This is not "caring." If he does extreme gestures like faking divorce papers, taking your ring off, breaking your things, or threatening to kill himself, it's not caring.

If he takes it as far as being physically abusive, you need to get the police involved, and you need to leave. Now.

15. You honestly don't like the way it feels.

Listen to your feelings. If you feel uneasy about his way of "caring," it isn't really caring — it's being controlled.

signs of a controlling husband


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What to do if you think your husband is controlling you

Start by trying to establish healthy boundaries. These are necessary in any healthy relationship. Keep in touch with friends and family, who can help give you clarity on the situation and help you get out of it, if it's time to leave.

Change the passwords on your phone, laptop, and any other devices if you think your husband is monitoring them.

Know that you can seek professional help if you are unsure of what to do.

If you or someone you know is suffering from domestic abuse or violence, there are resources to get help.


For more information, resources, legal advice, and relevant links, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline or call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233). If you’re unable to speak safely, text LOVEIS to 1-866-331-9474 or log onto thehotline.org.

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Ossiana Tepfenhart is a writer based out of Red Bank, New Jersey whose work has been featured on Medium, Yahoo, BRIDES, Your Daily Dish, New Theory Magazine, and others.