Mate is Too Controlling
Q: I'd like to know when enough is enough. I have been married for three years, but we have been together eight years total. My husband seems to always treat me like I'm a kid. He always finds something to nag about. We have no children but he entertains a lot and most of the time it's his family. He goes all out, and I'm stuck cleaning up after them. What upsets me most is that when I do something with my family or invite them over he always gets an attitude and never participates and never seems interested. He always questions everything I do as if I have no say about anything. How should I handle this situation? -- Sandy, 30
Dr. Susan: Enough is certainly enough if your husband is being emotionally abusive. Does he call you names and say contemptuous things? Or is his nagging more about reminding you of things you said you'd do and haven't done? (Husbands are the ones who typically claim their wives nag them, and sometimes that's due to the husbands not keeping up their end of the deal.) Constant criticizing is a form of abuse, too.
Even though your husband sounds controlling, do you realize you DO have some say? You shouldn't have to clean up after his family if you feel it's unfair. You can tell him that you understand he likes to go all out, but how about he clean up after his company, and you'll clean up after yours? It's also fair to expect him to keep his "attitude" to himself if he isn't interested in socializing with your family, so as not to hurt your or their feelings. (I don't believe you should ever force someone to socialize beyond their own interest, but you can both compromise.) The two of you need to talk about this in an adult way. It's going to take both of you working on it to change such a long-term, frustrating dynamic. Your first step is to stop caving in to his efforts to control you.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.