Ask Aesha: Is My Husband Controlling Me?
By: Aesha Adams Roberts
Today's Ask Aesha post comes from a woman who wants to know if a recent disagreement over her cell phone usage is a sign she's married to a controlling husband.
I have been married for a while now and sometimes I feel my husband wants to control me. For example, just last week I was playing a game on my phone and he told me I am on it too much. But I'm not, I was taking time out for me that day and my motherly and wifely duties were taken care of. He told me, "What if I cut your phone off?" I said, "I guess I won't have a phone." The next day he told me, "If you are on the phone when I get off work, I am taking your phone." So I wasn't. I was really scared to be on the phone when he got off because of what he said. There are other things as well, but I don't think there's enough space to tell you. So what do you think?
Mrs. I'm Not Sure
Dear Mrs. I'm Not Sure:
Having been in a controlling relationship myself, I am deeply sorry that you went through this.
Based on what you've told me, there are some obvious signs that your husband was controlling you. First of all, his question "What if I cut your phone off" uses financial power to control your behavior. It also is very manipulative to ask you the question so that you would indirectly agree to his decision. Secondly, using threats ("I am taking your phone") is a very aggressive form of control. Finally, the fact that you were afraid of what might happen if you were on the phone when he got home is a huge red flag!
Since you said there are other things you're concerned about in your marriage, ask yourself the following questions adapted from The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Be very honest, answer "yes or no" and try not to make excuses for your husband (example: He was just having a bad day):
Does your partner:
- Embarrass or make fun of you in front of your friends or family?
- Put down your accomplishments or goals?
- Make you feel like you are unable to make decisions?
- Use intimidation or threats to gain compliance?
- Tell you that you are nothing without them?
- Treat you roughly – grab, push, pinch, shove or hit you?
- Call you several times a night or show up to make sure you are where you said you would be?
- Use drugs or alcohol as an excuse for saying hurtful things or abusing you?
- Blame you for how they feel or act?
- Pressure you sexually for things you aren’t ready for?
- Make you feel like there "is no way out" of the relationship?
- Prevent you from doing things you want – like spending time with your friends or family?
- Try to keep you from leaving after a fight or leave you somewhere after a fight to "teach you a lesson"?
- Sometimes feel scared of how your partner will act?
- Constantly make excuses to other people for your partner’s behavior?
- Believe that you can help your partner change if only you changed something about yourself?
- Try not to do anything that would cause conflict or make your partner angry?
- Feel like no matter what you do, your partner is never happy with you?
- Always do what your partner wants you to do instead of what you want?
- Stay with your partner because you are afraid of what your partner would do if you broke up?
If you've answered "yes" to some or all of the questions, then you are in a controlling relationship.
Control and manipulation are rooted in fear. The Bible is clear: "There is NO fear in love! Perfect (mature) love, drives out fear." (See 1 John 4:18). If in any relationship–dating, marriage, parenting, friendship–we operate from a place of fear, it is a clear sign that we're not mature in love. Love means there are choices, and the ability to make choices demands that there is respect and freedom! Control has no place in a healthy relationship.
You have the right to live without fear. My advice is to find a good support system. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence has some good resources on how to get help, how to protect your identity while you're looking for help, and where to find support groups in your area.
I love you and care about you so much! I want to see you in the healthy relationship you deserve.