No marriage is perfect. However, there are major differences between healthy relationships and toxic ones. Some spouses struggle to identify whether their partner is controlling or not. It’s possible that they are accustomed to the other person’s behavior. While it’s true that an abusive spouse shows signs of physical aggression, emotional abuse is a huge factor as well. 

Many signs and feelings point towards an unhealthy, controlling relationship, such as: 

  • You feel lonely. Oftentimes, a controlling partner tries to dictate all aspects of your life. This includes how you spend your time, where you go and who you interact with. Your partner might want to be the center of attention. They will sway you from seeing friends, or become angry when you make plans without them. Eventually, you begin to stop picking up the phone. A declining social life can lead to isolation.
  • You feel smothered. Abusive partners create rules to regulate the lives of their significant others. Also known as micromanaging, they control the ins and outs of your day. This could happen by setting out expectations, extensive lists and tight schedules. You might feel like the demands are unreasonable, but it becomes a normal daily routine.
  • Your self-esteem is impacted. A controlling spouse uses negativity to harm the self-esteem of their partner. They strive to make you feel like you’re not enough. If you don’t heed their commands, you won’t be happy. For example, they might monitor or attack your physical appearance. Maybe, they criticize the way you express emotions or point out so-called problems in your character.
  • You feel threatened. Physical threats are serious in nature. But additionally, a controlling partner also cuts off “privileges” and uses emotional manipulation to make you behave a certain way. They threaten to harm you, themselves or your children. While this can be physically, it can also be financially.

Loneliness, fear and suffocation are just some of the feelings you may experience in a controlling relationship. Overall, they don’t respect your space, time, goals or aspirations. If you find yourself in a threatening situation, it’s important to seek help right away if there’s immediate danger. If you’re contemplating on separation, also seek legal representation. It’s wise to keep a daily journal of these accounts, not only to clarify the controlling relationship for yourself, but also for evidence.