Are You in a Relationship with a Controlling Wife?

If you're a guy, you may find it difficult to admit to yourself, let alone anyone else, that you have a controlling wife.

You may believe you're supposed to be the tough one in the relationship, right?

How on earth can you talk to your mates (or someone else about your situation) and work out if your wife has controlling behaviors or you are being "too sensitive"? No doubt you will have considered that you're at fault. Being in a relationship with an emotionally abusive controlling spouse is difficult! When you're unable to talk about your situation, and potentially experiencing domestic violence, it is even harder.

You are "not" alone.

You are not the only person who is in this situation where you are subjected to a controlling person's behavior. How do I know? I specialized in working with people who are in domestic violent relationships and "know" that not all victims are women! On top of that, this article has been read more often than most of my posts or related articles to marriage problems.  

Your wife's controlling behaviors may start subtly. You may even feel you're the one who has done something wrong and you're the one who is "losing it." You believe your partner isn't a controlling person, which leads you to feel guilty. Does this sound familiar?

As mentioned, more men consider their partner to be a control freak than you'd imagine! There is "no shame" in admitting you have a controlling wife, and there's no shame in asking for marriage advice and support!

controlling wife gif

Fear Drives the Controlling Wife

Many controlling people don't know they are doing it, your wife included. Just know that when the dynamic within your relationship changes and your partner starts to criticizes every little thing you do, it's because they're losing control within themselves.

They are experiencing fear. 

It may be fear of you leaving them and meeting a better person and they don't believe they're good enough for you. Maybe they're stressed and overwhelmed in life and the more they feel emotionally out of control, the more they have to control their external world to feel okay, which includes trying to control you. They fear losing control.

Quick Tip

The more controlling your wife becomes, the more fear she is experiencing. A healthy relationship takes work. When your partner is in fear, this is when she needs you the most. 

The irony is, people with a controlling personality have less control than anyone. They need things and people to be a certain way to feel safe and secure; a sense of control. However, life is unpredictable and their fear of change, or you leaving them, etc., causes them to have a greater need to control. The root of your controlling wife's behavior is her fear! When you understand this, you are more likely to respond to your partner with compassion rather than fear, distrust, or even anger.

How to Know You are in a Relationship with a Controlling Partner

Most people will automatically think of an abusive relationship when they hear of a "controlling partner."

Just because someone is controlling, it does not mean they're physically or verbally abusive.

Like everything, behavior is on a sliding scale and may be very subtle from little snide comments and innuendos, for instance, "I took the trash out because you forgot, again," to full-on (in your face) demands such as, "Where've you been? If you don't tell me I want a divorce!" 

Where your relationship sits on the sliding continuum scale of a controlling partner is determined by you and the impact it has on your mental health, and emotional well-being.

Definition of Controlling

“Controlling behaviors are actions in which an individual likes or "needs" to be in charge and manage the actions of another person or group...Although controlling behavior is not necessarily is often used in a negative manner. Controlling behaviors are typical in abusive relationships in which one individual likes to be entirely dominant to their partner and manage their actions and behaviors.”

quotation mark

The definition of emotional abuse is determined by the impact your wife's behavior has on you.

For instance, people will not consider a person who drinks five beers a night to have a drinking problem if it doesn't impact on those around them. However, if another person has five beers at the weekend and becomes angry and obnoxious to their partner or others, they will be considered as having a drinking problem because their drinking causes an issue to those around them.

How much of an impact does your wife's controlling behavior have on you?


  • Do you stress and lose sleep at night? Or
  • Do you see your partner as needing your support to reduce their fear?

Quick Tip

The impact your wife's behavior has on you will determine if it is considered emotional abuse or not.

Over time, your partner's behavior may impact on your mental health and emotional wellbeing. It is important that you see the signs and take the first step towards developing trust within yourself and to make the right decisions, for you.

You may want to know more about setting boundaries and read a related post by clicking the button below.


I have identified five different patterns people use because of their need for control in relationships.

Many controlling relationships have different experiences but the reasons for control remain the same; control is a competition for power because of fear.

The following are the five different controlling behavior patterns your wife may use to control you and the relationship: 



When your wife is in the Heroine power archetype, she will see herself as the "good" person in the relationship. She wants you to need her, which makes her feel superior and valued. She has an uncanny ability to do things without being asked, and as a result, you feel indebted and obligated to do things for her in return, even if you never asked for her help! Your wife can make you feel "guilty" for all the things she does for you.

Needy Nag

power struggles in relationships

When your wife is in the Needy Nag power archetype, she has a sense of anxiety and worries that you will leave her or that you do not love her anymore. Everywhere she looks, there is confirmation that you do not care about her. You can tell her that you love her until you're blue in the face, but she won't believe you. To gain a sense of power and control, she will pursue you, constantly questioning, judging, and criticizing. She will test you and push you to the limit to see whether or not you care for her.


boss lady

When your wife is in the Boss power archetype, she "has" to be in control. She believes she is superior and more entitled to dominate and control you. She tends to adopt a domineering and authoritarian position when she competes for power with you. She gets your attention by using forceful, loud, controlling, and sometimes threatening outbursts. This is the most aggressive power pattern to control in a relationship.

Damsel in Distress

damsel in distress

When your wife is in the Damsel in Distress power archetype, she feels powerless, helpless, resentful, and unable to change her situation. She gains power and control by making you feel a sense of obligation to do things for her through pity. She avoids taking responsibility for doing things for herself and relies on you, her partner, to meet her needs. She fears not being good enough for you and believes you will criticize or ignore her when she does not meet your expectations. Your partner may use "sickness" or an "injury" to gain your sympathy to control you.

Ice Queen

ice queen

When your wife is in the Ice Queen power archetype, she gains a sense of power and control in the relationship by withdrawing and closing down. She believes she is calling the shots—when she will engage, or not engage with you, and how much information she will share. She values her freedom, and she fears she will lose her identity and you will consume and smother her, which is why she withdraws and become emotionally unavailable. 

If you'd like to discover your power archetype and how it interacts with your wife's power pattern, why not take the free 3-minute quiz by clicking the button below? You will receive your own downloadable report by email, which you can read in your own time.
Are you the Tin Man, the Knight in Shining Armor, the Victim, the Clingy Guy, or the Sergeant Major? 
Start the quiz to find out.

How to Deal with a Controlling Wife:

  • Know that "nothing" is personal. How your wife responds and reacts results from how she is feeling; you are not responsible for the happiness of your spouse.
  • Spend time with your partner and let her know that you support and love her.
  • You may want to find a therapist to support you both to work through issues that impact two people in controlling relationships.
  • Understand and know the control power patterns that your partner uses and what control and power patterns you used to counteract the negativity and powerlessness you feel. What type of controlling pattern does your wife use? Is she the Needy Nag? Or the Boss? Maybe your partner is the Heroine and becomes resentful? Or is she the Damsel and you need to fix things otherwise she'll have a crisis and blame you? Or is she a passive controlling partner when she cuts you off emotionally and becomes the Ice Queen? 
  • Make conscious choices to respond differently to your partner's controlling patterns. For example, you may have previously withdrawn when your partner became controlling. Why not try a completely different response such as ask for a hug? 
  • Remember, your partner's controlling behavior ​results from fear. Offering a hug may help to ease your wife's fear.
  • Calmly ask your partner if there is anything that you can do to support her right now. Again, when your wife knows and sees you are there for her, it will support your spouse to reduce her fear.
  • Make a plan with your partner on how you will support her next time she feels the need to control.
  • Set aside one day where your partner may control nothing in the relationship. You are fully in control and will make all the decisions that day, including what you will have for dinner. Make this a fun exercise, rather than an opportunity to get a reaction out of your wife.

If you would like to discover different ways to connect with your partner that is less confrontational, consider relationship coaching.

Select a "Service" in the link below and click "Continue" to book a coaching session with me.

I look forward to connecting.

Until next time


Relationship Coach and Dating Coach

Coach 2 Connect

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If you would like to have a deeper understanding of the power patterns at play in your relationship, check out my book, "Female Power Archetypes" on Amazon by clicking the link below!

Female Power Archetypes Front Cover

Female Power Archetypes

Whether you realize it or not, there’s a story that governs your relationships. There are unconscious patterns, stories, and programs that shape your behavior in our relationships. To recognize and change these behaviors you need to know how power archetypes are at work in your relationships.

You have a dominant power archetype that determines how you react in times of need, and being overwhelmed, stressed, and afraid. By learning your dominant power archetype you can uncover the heart of the conflict in your relationships and move into a place of confidence, balance, and happiness.

If you want to find out more about your controlling wife and the dynamics in your relationship, you may want to check out my book on Amazon, Female Power Archetypes, by clicking the button below!

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