Disengaged from Friends and Family

A woman wrote, “It was a very scary, very sad, very dark time for me. I pulled away from family and friends who criticized my husband because I was just tired of trying to defend him all the time. I did not see what was happening or at least did not want to accept it.”

A wife stated, “I hid my real life and emotions from everyone outside our home. It looked like everything was great, but I was falling apart inside.”

Another said, “I don't have friends; I rarely do anything with my family.”


A woman whose marriage has since improved wrote about what it was like when her husband dominated her, “During that time, I had an early miscarriage though I did not know that I had been pregnant. It was the worst pain of my life and I thought that I was going to die. Literally. But my husband was asleep and I was too scared to wake him up, so I laid in the hallway so that if I died our roommate would discover me when she got home from work late that night. It was his control over me that made me believe I was not to wake him for any reason ever. I was extremely depressed and constantly scared during that time in our marriage.”

Another wrote, “I lived on eggshells, which is a terrible and horrible way to exist. I considered suicide. I almost left the church.”

Another stated her fear succinctly, “I retreated.”

Susceptibility to Manipulation

A respondent spoke to how her husband's control of her continued even as she divorced him, “I left him thinking I could handle anything. Was I ever wrong! I allowed him to manipulate the divorce still thinking things might change and we could reconcile. We were well off and very comfortable in our lifestyle, but he managed to get most everything we had materially. My financial situation has been difficult, but the blessing is that I am learning who I am and whose I am.”


Some who felt controlled or dominated rebelled by doing things against their own beliefs and values. As one woman wrote, “No one deserves to be mistreated. However, I know that I reacted badly to what was going on in my marriage. I had to get out because I was dying inside. I turned to other people, which was not right, but felt so unloved by my ex. Learning to love myself was what I needed most.”

If You Feel Abused: The Lesson to Be Learned

If you relate to some or all of the quotes above, consider the possibility that you are being controlled or dominated. Control or domination does not gradually fade away. Instead, they are more likely to increase with time. If you feel that your spouse behaves in dominating and controlling ways, the best time to address the issue is now. The longer you wait, the worse the effects on you.

If you feel it safe, suggest marriage counseling or other therapy if needed. If you wish a faster route to changing your spouse’s behavior, consider an intensive marriage workshop such as our three-day Marriage Help ER 911 for marriages facing difficulties.

SPECIAL NOTE: If your spouse is physically violent, or if you have any fear for your safety, rather than suggesting counseling or a workshop, call the Domestic Abuse Hotline for information about how to be safe. 1-888-7HELPLINE – US & Canada)

If you feel that you may be dominated or controlled but are not sure, take a free assessment. Reach it by clicking this link.

Are You Controlling or Dominating?

Most people who control or dominate their spouses do not believe that they do so. They offer reasons for their behaviors and see them as justified. If as you read the above quotes from the survey respondents, you recognized emotions or comments that you spouse has made, consider carefully whether you are controlling or dominating, no matter your intentions. If you think you may be, give this article to your spouse and ask if he or she feels any of the things identified in the quotes above. (NOTE: do not expect a controlled or dominated spouse to answer honestly unless you give total immunity for his or her response.)

If you control your spouse, you very likely control and dominate your children as well, even if you do not intend to do so. As one woman wrote, “I was willing to live with it because of the kids, but when he started talking to my 10-year-old like he did to me (she looks just like me) I snapped. I called an attorney, got a backbone, and kicked him out.”

More to Come…

Part Three of this series will focus on how to deal with a dominating or controlling spouse to stop that behavior.

We would love to help your marriage, whether there is criticism, control, infidelity, or any other problem, please call us toll free at 866-903-0990, or email us at info@JoeBeam.com.

Publication date: February 1, 2013