My Husband Controlled My Entire Life

Nobody has the arrogant right to control another human being.

Woman being hugged, living in a dark house emotionally cottonbro studio, gorodenkoff | Canva

My husband controlled my life. In many ways, it didn’t appear this way. He wasn’t an overt controller. He was a covert controller. He was a manipulator. He knew how to get what he wanted. And if he didn’t, there was a price to pay.

I was aware of this. It’s why I allowed him to control me. I didn’t want the difficult side of him to make an appearance. Instead of making obvious demands, I understood what he wanted, what he expected, and how to keep the peace. I maneuvered around him. 


Until I couldn’t anymore.



RELATED: If He Exhibits These 9 Behaviors, He's Not Just Protective — He's Controlling

I was exhausted by living with a difficult passive-aggressive personality. It angered my husband. He told me our relationship would be fine if I went back to being who I had always been. What was he truly saying?  “Everything will be fine once I can control you again.”


I was nearing 40 and unwilling to deplete myself for him anymore. He began uncharacteristically drinking. It's how my husband released his anger. He was furious about the potential of me divorcing him. This is where his control escalated. He now consumed my thoughts. It became even more difficult to keep his world together. It became impossible to keep our family's world together.

Not strictly because of the alcohol. My husband didn’t have a drinking problem. He wasn’t an alcoholic. I knew it, and our marriage counselor confirmed it. He was angry at me and it was coming out when he drank.

The controller was sending me a message — I will disrupt things even further until you go back to the way you were.

RELATED: I’m A Reformed Enabler Who Now Lives By This Mantra


One day I said, “You need to stop. You’re consuming all of my attention. I’m a mother. I have three children who deserve it.” My words fell short on a controller’s deaf ears. The extremely difficult personality will only tolerate their way. They don’t care what you want.

“Colleen,” said my marriage counselor. “You are being overly responsible for another human being and under-responsible for yourself. You lack self-protective instincts and boundaries.”

I knew he was right. There was little left of myself. I was taking on too much responsibility. I shouldn’t have let my husband control and manipulate me. People can’t control us unless we initially allow them to do it. We cave to them. We give in to their demands. We scurry to make their world go round. We neglect to say no. We work hard to keep the peace.



I should never have given a man or anyone else that power. I shouldn’t have handed my life over to him, to keep him happy. I shouldn't have worked that hard to avoid conflict and unpleasantness.


RELATED: 7 Critical Things I've Learned About Self-Care During My Divorce

When someone controls us and we do what they insist we do, we are being overly responsible for someone else. We are compromising our ability to be self-responsible. We are depleting our reserves. We are spending so much time on another individual. There will be little time and emotion left for ourselves.

No one deserves to be controlled. And no one has the arrogant right to control another human being. I left a man who controlled me. I stopped being overly responsible for another human being, and under-responsible for myself. I found my self-protective instincts. I discovered boundaries. I am no longer controlled.


RELATED: My Marriage Counselor Said I Lacked 2 Important Relationship Necessities

Colleen Sheehy Orme is a national relationship columnist, journalist, and former business columnist. She writes about love, life, relationships, family, parenting, divorce, and narcissism.