Getting Along Better with My Bossy Wife

By Dr Coach Love 

I love my wife— but she is bossy. How can I get along better with her?_________________________________________________________________

 Bossy means different things to different people. Depending on what ‘type’ of bossy you see your wife as being, there are different ways to improve your reaction to her. I identify six basic types of behavior that may come across as bossy— especially in intimate partnerships. 

The six behaviors commonly perceived as bossy (controlling/ butinsky) are:

______1. Always trying to be helpful.

______2. Insisting they have the best answer/way to do something.

______3. Pushing you to consider all options.

______4. Interrupting you and being outspoken by nature.

______5. Needing to prove they are smarter than you.

______6. Feeling driven to be in control and right. 

Review the list and mark:

  •  (0) by the characteristics that do not describe your wife

  •  (+) next to the descriptions that apply sometimes

  • (++) for the items that often fit how you see your wife. 

Evaluate your responses and identify which characteristics are more descriptive of your wife. See if there is a pattern. There are two main clusters of characteristics and, of course, a mixture of the two. 

Cluster A (1, 3, 4) 

IF you perceive that your wife tends to be—

  • overly  helpful

  • a brainstormer

  • simply talkative 

—she may be less bossy than she appears to be. 

Persons with this cluster of traits often do not realize how they are coming across to others. They have the best of intentions and do not feel like they should be quiet about it. They feel obligated to help and share what they know. Similarly, your wife may be more focused on what she can do, rather than on any negative reflection on your capability. This reflects more on her beliefs about her skills than your deficits. 

Cluster B (2, 5, 6) 

If types #2, #5, and #6, seem more descriptive of your wife, these characteristics may seem more reflective of her higher opinion of herself and lower reflection on you. She may deny that she is bossy and only that she is helpful. 

Cluster AB/BA 

This reflects a mix of characteristics where either A is more dominant or B is— but both are descriptive to some extent. 

All clusters signal the need for better boundaries. If your wife seems to be Cluster A predominantly, politely acknowledging her intent to be helpful, and ‘thank you’ but you do not need more suggestions, or letting her know in advance that you are not seeking feedback— may help you set better boundaries with her. Be clear about your expectations. 

Setting boundaries and not getting stuck with Cluster B individuals can be more challenging. You can begin with the suggestions for Cluster A  and then become more assertive if you are not initially successful. Statements like, “I guess we see it differently”, “we have different opinions”, “my way will work for me”, “there’s always more than one way to do something”, and the like are firmer efforts to set boundaries. 

Remember: even though it seems to you she acts like she’s smarter or you are dumb, she may not intend to communicate those sentiments. Resist the pull to become angry and behave like an insulted person often does: do not withdraw or begin/join in an argument. Instead work on clarifying her intent and expressing how she comes across to you using a discussion (not argumentative) format. 

Ignoring your wife, using silence, rudeness or control to control a bossy person generally escalates the situation. Sometimes excusing yourself and walking away with one-way closure may be your only option. And as always, seek professional help if you are unable to resolve or tolerate your situation.

What do you think?  

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.

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