Controlling Husbands

Controlling Husbands and their Discontents

Controlling husbands seem like they should be a relic of the bygone years when men were unquestioned as the head of the household and mothers advised their daughters to stand by their husbands and yield to their decisions.  Yet, if you pole virtually any workplace or ask a random group of people about the behavior of their spouses, you will find at least one of two controlling husbands.  (Controlling wives are quite common too, but that is a subject for another day.)

In fact, we might even wonder if those husbands prone to becoming controlling have not become even more controlling in the face of changing gender roles.  Perhaps, many controlling husbands feel as if they must be even more controlling in order to keep their wives away from the temptations of feminism.

Arenas of Control

Controlling husbands seem to have several arenas in which they try to exert their power.  One of the most common avenues of control manifests in the financial arena.  Controlling husbands often take as much control of the household finances as possible.  They demand their wives deposit money directly into the husband’s account, take control of the credit cards, and force the wife to ask for every penny spent.  The effect of this kind of financial control is twofold.  Psychologically, it sends the message that the wife is a subordinate to the husband and that she must ask “permission” in order to exert any financial power.

Often this financial power also reflects a difference in age.  Many husbands, who feel the need to control, will pick women that are substantially younger than themselves so that they can have more of an influence over them.  Young wives may at first find the very controlling habits they later resent, rather comforting.  Often this is because it makes the young women feel safe from outside threats such as the responsibilities of creating a life for themselves.

A second effect of financial control is that it makes it difficult for the wife to plan a means of escape, should she muster the courage.  With the husband monitoring every penny, the wife has greater difficulty accumulating a “runaway” fund.

Such husbands also try to isolate their wives socially.  If the wife works outside the home, such husbands are likely to be suspicious of any social gatherings or work friends that she makes.  He is likely to make it difficult for her to see them socially or he may demand that he be present when she sees them.  He may even act rudely towards her friends and acquaintances during such encounters in order to make sure that such occasions are infrequent.

Many times, however, such husbands will demand that their wives stay home taking care of the home or children.  They will claim that the wife must make the sacrifice for the “family.”  They will often belittle the wife’s attempts to further her career or any attempts by the wife to foster interests that the husband is not involved with.

Not surprisingly, such control will lead the wife to feel as if the husband is ignoring her needs.  Such a feeling is likely to affect the couple’s sex life, as the wife is likely to feel emotionally removed and the husband is likely to see the wife as neglecting her wifely duties.

Typically, a husband with control issues will also be a bit of hot head—the sort of guy who cannot make an argument without raising the volume of his voice.  This can make for quite an intimidating situation for the wife, who may even feel physically threatened by her husband.  In fact, studies show that husbands with control issues are more likely to commit acts of domestic abuse than the general population.     

Women who are in such relationships need to either find a way of asserting themselves so that the husband respects them.  Often, however, the best remedy is for the wife to leave the husband and begin afresh.