Coping with a Possessive Spouse

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Coping with a Possessive Spouse


Sandy's marriage had been rosy until her husband lost his job. The event spelt calamity and Sandy began to see the ‘new face’ of her once caring husband. “He started peeping into my diary, reading phone messages, inspecting my purse, and monitoring my movements closely,” Sandy says. 

The man practically built a siege around Sandy’s life, making her feel frustrated and puzzled. Marriage became unbearable and her husband, a thorn in the flesh! 

Possessiveness is a silent killer that plagues many relationships. Dr Edward Dreyfus in his book Someone Right For You describes possessiveness as a form of domestic abuse where a person uses verbal or non-verbal means to control a partner by monitoring their activities, movements or phones messages. 

Although the reasons are the same, men and women adopt different means of expressing possessiveness. Dr Dreyfus writes that possessive men become more aggressive, resort to verbal threats, stalk their partners and may become wife batterers. Their wives sometimes perceive the man’s pathological jealousy as a sign of ‘passionate love’. The woman only wakes up to reality when the husband’s behaviors cuts her off from the rest of the world. 

Women, on the other hand, use more subtle forms of aggression such as withdrawal of sex, hiding car keys, or soaking the man’s clothes to frustrate their movement plans. 

Counselling psychologists say possessiveness is not a problem in itself but a symptom of an underlying problem. 

Gaston Byamugisha, a marriage therapist and lecturer in Marital Counseling at the Department of Psychology, Kyambogo University, says over possessiveness is rooted in feelings of insecurity. Insecurity can be caused by low self-esteem, upbringing factors and disparity in social and career mobility. 

“There are cases where a man is stagnant while his wife seems to be progressing. Such disparity might threaten the man’s ego, evoking feelings of insecurity,” he explains. A man who feels insecure begins to control the woman’s time, friends, behaviour, bank account, expenditure and phone calls. 

According to Byamugisha, insecurity is a complex layer of feelings that masks either real or perceived loss. This may be loss of social position, family or resources. The loss deals a hard blow upon the individual’s self-esteem and threatens their ego. “Possessiveness is a form of defense mechanism that an individual employs to minimize the perceived harm,” he says. Through it, he tries to protect the ego and maintain the right psychological equilibrium. 

Byamugisha says women are more likely to adopt emotional support strategies in dealing with insecurity more than men as they readily seek advice from friends, seek professional counselling, resort to spiritual means like contacting magicians or pastors for prayers,” he says. 

Although most possessive men view possessiveness as ‘taking charge’ of a woman’s life, it is a desperate attempt to regain control, characterising insecurity and fear of loss. 

Dealing possessiveness 
Possessiveness could be an expression of unmet emotional needs. Underneath that behaviour he might be saying “I want more of your time and attention and I feel cheated when you spend more time at work or with friends than with me!” You must accept the fact that each of you has a different yardstick for gauging a ‘good’ partner or ‘an ideal relationship.’ The amount of time and attention you consider ‘enough’ to nourish your relationship is not necessarily sufficient by your spouse’s standards. 

It is important for both of you to evaluate your emotional needs objectively. 

Signs of possessiveness 

  • Keeps track of you. Calls for no reason but just to find out where you are and what you are doing. 

  • Drops by home or your work place unexpectedly. 

  • Checks the mileage level on your car 

  • Restricts your relationship with friends and family 

  • Controls all the money, forcing you to account for every coin even your earnings 

  • Gets angry when he finds you speaking to the opposite sex 
    Looks at you suspiciously whenever you receive phone calls and demands to know the caller. Might also scroll through your phone book to read messages. 

  • Threatens to harm any man who tries to get into your life. 

Possessive Men Are Dangerous!
Jealous, possessive men are dangerous. At first they appear to be very attentive. It’s almost flattering to get so much attention, to have someone want to make sure you get home safe after a night out with girlfriends for example, but sooner or later the reality of this situation sinks in. 

He’s not really as concerned about your safety as he is checking up that you are actually where you told him you’d be. Even if you told him you didn’t need collecting, chances are he’ll show up anyway because “he missed you and wanted to see you”. If you’re in the early stages of a romantic relationship with this man, you’ll probably miss the rolled-eyes expressions your friends make when they hear this!

Is your man someone who wants to know where you are every minute that you’re out of his sight? Is he likely to ring you when you’re with friends just to make sure “you’re OK”? Does he like to collect you when you’re out with the girls so that “you get home safe”? Does he ask you about who you’ve been with, who you met – being particularly interested about any men that you talked with? Is he someone who thinks that you should go everywhere together – and if you go together, then you should stay side-by-side the entire time and not socialize independently at the party? If so, then it’s very possible that your man has a possessive and/or jealous streak that you need to be careful about.

It might be cute at first, but trust me, this could end up with a crisis situation where you end up trapped in a relationship because you have no-one to turn to – having been isolated from your friends because your man didn’t want you out socializing without him. He’ll have convinced you that going out with them, girls who are only out looking for men, means that you don’t care about him. Because you care about him, you’ll stop going out with them. He’ll separate you from your circle of friends, even family, and your contact with people other than him will become increasingly restricted.

Make no mistake about it, a possessive man, one who gets jealous if so much as another man looks at you, is dangerous. They eat away at first your social circle, and then your own self-confidence, until the day comes you realize that they have this much control over you. The real problem here is - you don’t know how to get out of the relationship which by this time may have even turned violent.

The best way to avoid getting to this extreme is to take steps early in the relationship to ensure that your man accepts that you have friends and a social life that he is not a part of. Reassure him that he’s welcome to meet up with your friends, and that he’s the only guy you’re interested in, but be very firm that when you are on a girls’ night out. He’s not to be there! Make ground rules about him not contacting you when you’re out with your friends, and about what interaction you may want to have with people other than him. 

At any sign that your man is trying to restrict your social activity, or time you spend with friends and family, question his motives. And if it appears that he is displaying possessive and/or jealous behavior, take steps to stop this situation evolving. You need to seriously consider whether or not your relationship with him is worth it. Losing your right to socialize with whom you choose, your freedom and ultimately, your self-respect, is a price you should not be willing to pay in any relationship.


Dealing with a possessive husband

  • If you are in a relationship where your husband's possessive y or possessiveness is beginning to get to you, what should you do about it? Would it help to shape out why he feels this way? Talk to them about it, communication is the key as always. 

  • If you are suffering appropriate to your husband's unreasonable possessive y or possessiveness, specially if is completely unwarranted and you have never given them reason to doubt your promise to them, it can cause irreparable damage to the relationship. 

  • If he blames you of checking out, admiring or checking with someone and it is completely uncalled for, do not argue and get into a heated discuss about it. It will only get worse an already tense situation. Try to serenely and rationally explain that you were not doing anything of the sort and nor are you tempted to, restore confidence them that it was harmless, after all it's human nature to appreciate something or somebody good looking and nothing is going to come out of it. 

  • If your husband has been visiting your office too often, asking your friends as many questions, let him know as quietly as possible that you do not appreciate it. Tell them that you are more than ready to address their fears and give answers, always presumptuous that the questions are reasonable and not verging on the suspicious. 

  • If your husband are showing strong signs of possessiveness and want you to stop all contact with your friends or family, create him understand that it is not good for a relationship to spend all your time in each other's company. Calm their concerns and worries and give confidence them to also spend time with their own circle of friends.

  • Let him know that friends and family are important to you, but he is the most important person in your life. 

Signs when husband extremely possessive 

  1. He calls you each two hours just to say, that he love you but it is actually a idea to check up on you. 

  2. He says no to accept that you have male friends. 

  3. When you get home from your boys night out, you get an all-night interrogation. 

  4. He doesn't like you to go anywhere without he. 

  5. He gets angry each time you come within 50 feet of another attractive men and demands, "What are you looking at?" 

  6. He blows up at you anytime you mention a male celebrity. 

  7. He constantly questions you about your male coworkers. 

  8. He's even possessive of your family and asks questions like, "Why were you talking to your mother for so long?" 

  9. He tries to trap you with questions like, "Do you find him attractive?" and freaks out no matter what you answer. 

  10. You are afraid. You are very afraid. 

Dealing with a possessive woman
Possessive nature in women, especially when you are not bound to her by marriage is very common. But living with a possessive girlfriend is no easy feat. Even inevitable engagements like office work or attending your best friend’s birthday party becomes a ground for doubt. If you have tried several ways of dealing with such a girlfriend, but in vain, here are some tips for dealing with such girls.

  1. Don’t ignore: it is common that men start ignoring their girl whenever she gets possessive. This is not at all a good idea. It will just make matters worse and may lead to a break up.

  2. Spend quality time: If your work schedule is keeping you busy and is not letting you spare a lot of time with your girl, make sure all the time you spend with her is special. After all spending quality time is more important than the quantity of time spent.

  3. Gift her favorite little things: girls love gifts and you can win your girl’s heart by gifting her small things she likes. It can be a bouquet of her favorite flowers, a soft toy or her favorite chocolates. This will reassure that you remember to pamper her.

  4. Take her out whenever possible: while it may not be possible to take your girl with you to your office, you can take her to social events like parties and weddings. Give her a chance to meet your friends. This will give a great boost of confidence to your relationship.

Never miss wishing on important occasions: women hold high regard to special days. May it be a birthday, her graduation day or the first day of her new job. Always remember to wish her. This will show your concern for her and make her happy. Anger Workbook for Women: How to Keep Your Anger from Undermining Your Self-Esteem, Your Emotional Balance, and Your Relationships

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