How to Nicely Stop My Wife From Controlling the Relationship

by Genevieve Van Wyden

Your wife’s desires and decisions have taken over your marriage relationship, leaving your preferences abandoned by the wayside. If she gets control by setting her expectations so high you can’t meet them, this might be an indicator of emotional bullying. Or your fights are leading to you realize that you’re no longer happy in your marriage. You have two options -- get marriage counseling, in which she learns how her behaviors have affected your relationship; or learn how to fight fairly. If neither of these options work, your third option is to leave and put space in between the two of you.

Look honestly at your marriage and think back to the beginning. If it began with the two of you loving and treating each other with respect, and then it degenerated, you’ll need to examine every area where your needs are not being met.

Decide how you want to manage your relationship with your wife. If you want to go to couples therapy, understand that the two of you will be required to work on every aspect of your marriage. This includes areas where you might be doing things wrong, as well as those where your wife is being overly controlling.

Work hard with your therapist in each session. At home, work on any homework assignments your therapist gives you, and commit to interacting with your wife in a friendly manner, even in the face of your struggles. Your therapist will explain that winning and losing in a marriage means that neither of you wins. Instead, your goal should be to discuss solutions on which both of you can agree.

Answer this question: Does your wife abuse you emotionally? Think of recent interactions that left you feeling powerless or alone. These include setting unreasonable expectations, bullying and gaslighting, which means to deny a certain behavior you witnessed. Other forms of abuse might include verbal attacks, constant drama, unpredictable responses, withholding, rejection and isolation.

Determine which types of emotional abuse and controlling behaviors you’ve experienced. Write them down. Based on your feelings about your wife, decide if you want to work on her controlling behaviors or not. If you don’t believe she’ll be willing to change her behaviors, think about whether to stay or go.

Call a licensed marriage and family therapist. Explain what’s been happening in your marriage and ask for an initial consultation. A qualified therapist can help you and your wife to pinpoint what’s happening in your marriage.

Talk to your wife and tell her what you’ve seen happening in your marriage. Let her know you’re not happy with your relationship. If you decided to try counseling, tell her you found a therapist and that you have an appointment. If she decides to go with you, be ready to go through some hard work; if not, go to your sessions anyway. Get the professional support you need to regain the true you.

Items you will need

  • Phone directory
  • Phone number for therapist


  • Managing the imbalance in your marriage will take a willingness to work. You’ll have to be honest with yourself and your wife. Respect yourself as you respect your wife. Let her know you want an equal footing in your relationship.


  • Don’t try to hold onto your wife if she doesn’t want help. If she’s truly emotionally abusive, she may not see any need to change how she interacts with others.

About the Author

Genevieve Van Wyden began writing in 2007. She has written for “Tu Revista Latina” and owns three blogs. She has worked as a CPS social worker, gaining experience in the mental-health system. Van Wyden earned her Bachelor of Arts in journalism from New Mexico State University in 2006.

Photo Credits

  • Pixland/Pixland/Getty Images