You don’t have to be particularly vulnerable to fall victim to a controlling spouse. While we often think that this only happens to those who are in an unstable place emotionally or who have low self-esteem, it can happen to anyone. A partner who seeks to control you is often a narcissist, and will always put his needs or wants ahead of anyone else’s. At first, there may even be something appealing about a person who takes charge. It may seem like he or she is simply looking out for your best interests and wants to take care of you. But sometimes a partner ends up taking over completely, and it can leave you feeling trapped. How do you know if you have a controlling spouse? Impossible Standards: Often, it benefits a controlling spouse to make you feel as though you are never good enough. If he sets goals for you that are impossible to achieve, then you will never feel as though you are living up to his standards. This keeps you in a position of constantly groveling for approval. For instance, if your spouse berates you for not cleaning the house, but turns around and criticizes you for cleaning the house instead of taking the kids to the park, then you can never satisfy him. Unbalanced Relationship: For many of us, the ideal goal is a relationship that is equal. This may be in terms of finances, childcare, cooking, or cleaning, but none of us want to feel as though we are doing all the work. A controlling spouse will usually push the work off on you but not be willing to shoulder any of the burden for herself. For example, if your spouse can go off with her friends on the weekend and leave you home with the kids, but you are guilted out of doing something similar, there is an imbalance in the relationship. My Way or the Highway: It can be great to have someone who is willing to make decisions and plan things out. But what happens when things don’t go his way? It’s one thing if your partner gets disappointed; it’s another if they throw a fit or threaten you. A controlling spouse will not react well to his authority being questioned. Be careful in this instance, because this can lead to emotional or physical abuse. If you are being abused, please seek help immediately. The Blame Game: A mature adult recognizes when he or she is at fault and admits it. A narcissist always finds someone else to blame. Your partner may blame you or someone else, but either way she is always the victim. It’s ironic since she is the one victimizing others, but that’s the game they like to play. It keeps her from feeling guilty and causes others to flock to her cause. The examples above are only a small percentage of the signs that you have a controlling spouse, but they can all be summed up easily: Your needs are last, and his are always first. A relationship like this is often hard to see from the inside. Many who have dealt with a controlling spouse don’t even see what’s going on until they have gotten in over their heads. Unfortunately, this makes it more difficult (emotionally) to get out of the relationship. Take stock of your marriage and address the things that make you unhappy. It takes strength and often outside help to get past this, but you can do it.