The following signs of a controlling wife are listed in no particular order. Sometimes it can be hard to recognize the signs yourself and it often helps to go through the list with a (trusted!) friend who may see things that you do not.
If you suspect that your wife may be controlling (that's why you are here, right?) then I suggest that you do not go through this list with her.
It's important to recognize not just that you are being controlled, but also why you are being controlled. More about this later.
When you met this woman first she was attractive, charming, sexy, fun and caring. But now you hardly recognize her. She is selfish, critical, demanding, bossy, and nothing is ever enough for her.
It feels to you that your whole world revolves around her, trying not to upset her on the one hand and doing things that might make her happy on the other.
You spend much less time with your family or friends now.
There are lots of arguments, often over the same things.
She is very critical of you. Nothing you do or say seems to be right. Even if you try and do something well to please her, or spend time helping her, or spend money on her, she finds fault with it in some way. It's not exactly what she wanted, it wasn't on time, or worse, you didn't have the right attitude when doing it.
She makes you feel guilty a lot, guilty about what you think, about what you believe, about what you say and about what you do. She even makes you feel guilty about who you are. So guilty, in fact, that you end up trying to change yourself so as to avoid that sharp tongue she has.
There are phrases she uses a lot, and they make you feel 2 inches tall.
She spends a lot of money. First yours, then hers. She complains when you spend money, no matter how little, but she always has money for the things she 'needs'. She has full access to all the money and you may not know where the money goes. Of course, there is a justification, she is better at math, better at managing the finances, etc. etc..
There is one set of rules for her and another set for you and the children. Both sets of rules are hers because she makes up the rules.
You are never allowed to break the rules. For any reason. When she breaks the rules, she has valid reasons that you are supposed to accept without question. These justifications only apply to her and you are not allowed to use her reasons for yourself.
She can change the rules whenever she likes and she doesn’t have to tell you that the rules have changed. You only find out about the rule change when you have broken the rule and you are being punished.
You may be afraid of her or her temper.
She has a vicious temper which she loses at small things and sometimes seemingly for no reason at all.
That temper disappears as quickly as it came on and while you are an emotional mess she carries on as if nothing happened. This is confusing to you, you often wonder how she manages to do that.
The woman you proposed to was warm, affectionate and caring. The woman you are now married to can be cold, cruel and callous. You are probably sure she has emotions but are not sure how sometimes she can be so uncaring.
Remember that not all of these signs of a controlling wife have to be present in the one person for there to be problems in a relationship.
She wants to know where you go, what you do, who you speak to and what was said. She may have your passwords for email and social media. You don't have hers and you are not given much information about her movements. You are not allowed to ask either.
She may even be posting on your social media for you.
You have little or no time alone. She is around a lot and she keeps you busy, doing things for her or decorating the house. You try and spend as much time as you can in your shed but she constantly interrupts.
Everything with her is conditional. If she does something for you, you know you will have to pay for it in some way. And she has no problem reminding you that you owe her.
She will not return favors you do for her.
She will do you a favor once and expect to be paid back forever more. Or she does a small favor and expects something huge in return. This is how they abuse the idea of reciprocity.
She will appear jealous, being very aware of any sort of interest you show in other women. She may claim that it's because she was treated badly in previous relationships. Really it's actually more of the control she is exerting over you. Mind Control 101; isolate the victim from their support networks. She does not want you speaking to anyone who might point out the truth about her to you.
There may be overt physical abuse. This includes throwing things at you, breaking things, pushing you up against the wall and screaming in your face, threatening you with weapons and/or hitting the wall or table beside you with objects.
She will use sex to get what she wants, either rewarding you with sex or punishing you by withholding it.
There are lots of threats, covert as well as overt. She can threaten all sorts of things, including divorce. The latter is particularly nasty because she knows how you are dependent on her and threatening to leave you will make you step up and do whatever it takes to please her so that you do not lose her. And even if there is no overt threat, if you feel that every time there is an argument or an upset that you might lose her, in other words, any sign that things are not going well makes you feel that the relationship is on the line, then you are being controlled. This is one of the significant signs of a controlling wife.
She is always right, You are always wrong. If anything goes wrong within 50 yards of you, it's your fault. If anything goes well, she takes the credit.
She does not apologize. If she does, it’s not genuine at all because she is doing the same upsetting behavior 5 minutes later.
With children they may have little interest in caring for them or they may control every second. The children are typically afraid of the controller but depend on them for love and attention. This causes all sorts of problems for the children, both as children and later in life.
She will manipulate the children into taking her side against you, making out that you are the one who is bad, mad or sad.
A controlling mother is capable of doing awful things to her own children , not giving them birthday presents, calling them horrible names, punishing them excessively, never giving them hugs or kisses etc.
Lies, lies and more lies. Have you caught her out in lies? If you have not, then it's worth looking harder. She may have redefined what she is doing so you don't recognize it as a lie. Some of them are so big that it's hard to get your head around the idea that they are lies.
There are rewards and punishments, although you may not think of them in those terms. Initially in the relationship, there were lots of rewards. You were made to feel good in lots of ways. Then when you were committed, these began to switch to punishments. Now there are way more punishments than rewards. You used to do things to get 'rewards', her attention and affection. Now you do things to avoid 'punishments', her getting upset.
There are nice times, too. Sometimes really nice times. And during these times you hope that now that things are back to being good, they will stay this way. You tend to forgive and forget the bad stuff during these moments. Unfortunately these times don't last long. They get less frequent as time passes, too.
Does she play the victim role very well? If you complain about something she says or does, she will list out times when you did or said similar things and she makes you feel sorry for her. You go to her angry about something and you walk away having apologized to her for your bad behavior.
In fact, when you argue, she is never stuck for words. She can talk and talk and talk. You walk away somewhat confused, with a jumble of ideas in your head and unable to explain to anyone else what happened. But you know you didn’t get what you wanted. Nor is anything different afterwards.
She is a great actor, putting on a performance in public where people think she is a wonderful wife, mother and person. Behind closed doors the real person is dark, moody, selfish and even tyrannical.
She has changed your personality. Your family and friends say they don't know you anymore, or that you are not yourself, or you have lost your spark. Or you think that you don't know who you are anymore, or that you have lost yourself in the relationship.
She takes no personal responsibility. There is always an excuse why it's not her fault.
She says one thing but does another.
These last 4 of the signs of a controlling wife are very significant. The last one is difficult to see if you are still under the influence of the controller but is very important. If they are present, you are indeed in trouble.
If you can recognize many of the signs of a controlling wife above, the next step is to figure out what kind of person you are dealing with. Is it someone who has been cheated on in the past and is trying to prevent that happening again? Does your wife have issues around insecurity and anxiety? What does she say to explain her behaviors? And is this actually true? (Remember the lies part?)
There is another group, and if you have seen a lot of the signs of an abusive wife above, it's definitely worth investigating. These are people who control for the sake of controlling. They live parasitic lifestyles and their relationships are based on domination and coercion.
These are people who have a personality disorder, psychopaths, narcissists and sociopaths. They are defined by a lack of emotion and a big ego with a strong sense of entitlement. They do not experience love, guilt, shame, remorse, embarrassment, anxiety while at the same time they believe they are superior to others.
It's vital to know if you are dealing with a person of this type because you are not just playing in a different ball park, you are playing in a different universe. The rules of play are very different with psychopaths and narcissists. This is why I suggest that you have to know what you are dealing with. If you try and handle a psychopath, a sociopath or a narcissist as you would a normal, feeling human being, you will lose. Period.
It is fundamental to know something about the person in front of you, you have to understand their motivations and their tactics because in a situation like this the only defense you have is information. Here, information really is power, because when you take them on you have to be prepared to engage in a power struggle with someone who's main driver is control and power. They are not going to give up easily and they won't give up without a fight. If there are children involved, it's even more important to understand what's happening so that you can protect them, too.
As I have mentioned, if the person is behaving in a controlling way because they have personal issues or were abused in the past, there are recognized and useful therapy options available.
If you are dealing with a psychopath, then much of the advice you will read about won't work.
Talk nicely to them. Improve your communication skills. Use positive phrases. Don't take it personally. All this is well and good with normal people. However, psychopaths and narcissists don’t respond normally to these things.
Chances are that there is nothing wrong with your communication skills. You have tried for months or years to negotiate. It is not working. You may think that you have difficulty expressing yourself or that our wife simply does not get some idea or other, because you argue about it a lot. The fact is that she is not stupid, she gets it. She just doesn’t care what you want! All those arguments about the same thing over and over is her taking the opportunity to repeatedly punch the information into your brain that she wants there.
Going to therapy with such a person can be a disaster. Typically they trick the therapist into being on their side (remember that wonderful public personality they exhibit?) and then you have the controller and a therapist on your case. Then there is even more abuse heaped upon you.
If you are living through a lot of the signs of a controlling wife described above you need to leave the relationship to put a stop to the abuse. This is easier said than done because of that dependency I mentioned earlier. Some people have to learn about mind control and emotional abuse and its effects before they understand the gravity of their situation. Some people have to get rid of some of the fear of their wives before they have the courage to leave. And some people need to just run and sort things out as they go. All of the options are more easily undertaken with professional help.
You can learn more about abusive wives, the dynamics in a relationship with a controlling wife, what happens in a marriage to a sociopath, how to leave an abusive relationship and separating from an abusive spouse,
Would you like to talk to someone about your situation?
If you think you are or have been in a cult or a destructive relationship, or a friend or family member might be in a cult and you want to talk to someone, send me a message on the Contact page and we can arrange to talk. All communication will be treated in the strictest confidence.
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