Dear Inside His Head,
My husband is very controlling and I’ve just about had it with all his questions. I think he’s insecure, which is why he asks me where I’m going, who I’m going with and when I’ll be back every time I walk out the door.
I try to reassure him that I love him and that I married him for a reason, but it doesn’t seem to help. His clinginess just makes me want to push him away. Is there anything I can do to make him realize he doesn’t have anything to worry about? I’m so frustrated!
MAVERICK: You say right out of the gate that your husband is controlling so I’m going to assume this isn’t a new issue or something that has an actual root cause.
You won’t be able to explain to him he has no reason to worry because his behavior is irrational. You can’t logic your way out of this with him. He’s hoping, if he badgers you enough, you’ll just stay home and do what he wants you to do, whatever that might be.
It’s illogical to think most women would want to spend their time with a controlling, nagging, clingy dude, but somehow this is the strategy he’s hit on. He’s hoping you’ll give up. Don’t rise to the bait and feel sorry for him and for goodness sake stop trying to placate him.
He has to figure it out on his own that this stuff isn’t going to work with you.
From the way you’ve worded your question I’d say you’ve gone one of your way to reassure him and it’s just not worked. So stop that tactic. I’d say a good method of dealing with this is to be direct – I mean brutally so. He’s acting like a little kid so it’s time to start treating him like one. Spell it out for him.
Tell him that his needy and clingy behavior is unwarranted. Add that he behavior is pretty unattractive and the more he does it the less likely you are to want to spend your free time with him.
You: I’m thinking about going to hang out with my best friend Sally on Saturday.
Him: But we never spend any time together anymore. You’re always out. I was hoping we could stay in and watch the Fixer Upper marathon on HGTV.
You: Do you even hear yourself anymore? As attractive as you are when you’re insecure and whiny, I’ll have to pass. If I want to spend and evening with a constant whiner I’ll rent a 4-year-old.
And for goodness sake, don’t ask him about going out. Simply tell him what you’re going to do and be specific so he has little chance to nag or ask a bunch of questions about your plans.
You: Dear, I’m going out to my book club tomorrow evening. I’m leaving at 6:30 and I’ll be back home by 11. If I’m going to be later than that, I’ll call. Please don’t call or text me, I’ll be turning off my phone.
Him: Why would you turn off your phone?
You: Because the last time I went out with my friends you called me six times and texted me 15 times and it was annoying. I’m not going to allow you to badger me while I’m spending time with my friends trying to enjoy myself. No more questions. This discussion is over.
Keep this up until you’ve made your point. Unless he’s a complete dolt he’ll get the message eventually.
GRAY: Worry is a hole that never gets filled. No amount of reassurance is going to make it go away and it’s not uncommon for people with control issues to still not be satisfied even after their spouse has no friends, no life and is practically cut off from the world.
The trick is not to get pulled into the hole.
People with control issues can be particularly frustrating because they are often unaware of how unreasonable they’re being and can often try to make you feel guilty for simply being who you are. Above anything else, don’t let them change you.
There isn’t some magic amount of giving in to them that will make anything better, so keep going out the door and doing what you do no matter how many questions he has.
Your husband may feel as though you’re the one being unreasonable or creating all the tension – which can be part of the lack of self-awareness controlling people tend to exhibit.
Don’t attack him for it, but point out when he’s not being respectful. For example, it’s normal for someone to ask who you’re having lunch with, but quite another thing to imply you might be lying or going out so you can flirt with some other man.
A little jealousy may be flattering, but it gets overbearing quickly. Make him aware when it’s making you uncomfortable and when he’s displaying the type of controlling behavior he may be unaware he’s using.
As he becomes more aware of the parts of his behavior that aren’t acceptable, hopefully he will accept and overcome that part of himself, but don’t be afraid to reach out to a marriage counselor if it becomes even more of a point of contention.
You may find the cause of his behavior, whether it be low self-esteem, anxiety from previous failed relationships, fear of betrayal or general insecurity, but the only way out of the hole is to let it all go. Once he learns to go with the flow and stop trying to plan everything his fears will go away and hopefully won’t fall back in the hole, but learn how to walk around instead.
MICHAEL: You don’t say how old you are or how long you’ve been married. Your husband sounds somewhat immature.
I wonder if your he has had problems in previous relationships and it’s carried over to yours. Having said that, sometimes we just care about where you are and that you’re safe. I often times ask my wife where she’s going, or who she’s going to be with but it’s not because I’m nosy or controlling. For me it’s more about scheduling and making sure someone’s going to be home for the kids or something like that.
We often use our calendars on our electronics in order to keep track of everybody’s schedule, so you might consider that as well. If you’re going to have a girls night out on Thursday put it on the calendar and put the times you’re going to be gone.
You might consider preemptively telling him where you’re going and who you’re going to be with. I’ve gotten to a point where I don’t really care who my wife is with or when she comes home as long as she does come home, but she’s polite enough to tell me ahead of time.
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