Controlling Husband and Loss of Self- Part 4

By Dr. Coach Love


In Part 3, the options of marital and individual therapy to assist in breaking down controlling patterns were reviewed. When the controlling person refuses to enter into marriage counseling, the other partner can enter individual therapy to work on the marriage problem from their end.


In response, their controlling partner, who remains outside of therapy, may begin to change with a sincere and demonstrable change in behavior or express a motivation to join in the therapy. This can be an excellent sign. 


Nevertheless, if the controlling behavior is pervasive and/or abusive, when the sole partner works in therapy to change their part of the control dynamic— it is not without a serious risk:


  • An escalation or beginning of physical violence is a real possibility. If this occurs, be sure to seek professional help immediately—mental health, medical, and/or legal.


The other risks include these types of responses from the partner not in therapy:


1. A temporary pseudo change in behavior until “the heat dies down”

2. A “punishing” demeanor of avoidance

3. Sudden sulking or emotionally dependant behavior

4. Greater intensity in emotional or verbal battering

5. Throwing up physical or financial obstacles to continuing in therapy

6. Threats of divorce with increased pressure to return to old behavior

7. Increased efforts to isolate the other from sources of support


Meanwhile, the partner in therapy may outgrow the marriage and leave.


Controlling dynamics in partnerships generally take away the sense of self from the non-controlling partner. Building self-esteem through focusing on positive relationships and activities that have been abandoned or neglected can return the individual to a sense of self.


There is no ‘good’ or ‘right’ time to stand up and create a new boundary in a controlling relationship. The ‘best’ time is before you lose yourself and can gain the strength and support to choose a change in your life. The choice is not easy

—but it is yours to make.


Check the table of contents below for links to more articles and Q&A on controlling behavior.


That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.



Dr. Coach Love




v      I invite your comments below.

v      E-mail your relationship coaching questions to

v      Questions selected will be edited as needed to reflect privacy,

            brevity, clarity, and general interest.

v      Sorry, Dr. Coach Love is unable to offer any personal advice through this blog. This blog is not intended as a substitute for therapy. If you suspect any mental health problems, please seek immediate direct professional services as appropriate.

v      Check out relationship coaching services at



©       Copyright 2009 P.H. Pickett, Ph.D.  All rights reserved.

            Contact for permissions.

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About drcoachlove

Dr. Coach Love is the author of the multiple award-winning book, The Marriage Whisperer: Tips to Improve Your Relationship Overnight, published by MSI Press, a traditional publisher in California.

One response »

  1. I thank you for making it clear to the partner in therapy that there’s a real possibility for violence from the non-therapy partner. How prevalent is violence in these cases?

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