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Is DH Controlling?

(112 Posts)
Charlotte48 Fri 19-Oct-18 20:19:46

I married DH when I was 26 and he was 34, I worked as a secretary and he was an accountant in a big firm. Because I had my own account he paid money into it rather than having a joint account – I quite liked this as he has always been generous and bought me gifts – jewellery, perfume lingerie etc. I gave up work and had a DS and DD. DH now runs his own accountancy firm – he has always been good with money and we live well with a nice house and a villa in Spain and he has a lot of investments! I am now 48, he’s 56 – DD is at Uni and DS is a trainee accountant! When the kids were small sometimes I would need more money for them and have to ask him for it which was a pain but normally OK once I had explained why I needed the money. At other times, for example, if I wanted to spend £150 on a new pair of fashionable boots I would get the money instantly, and he thought nothing of spending £5000 on my breast enlargement but on another occasion he might question why I needed money for petrol if my account was a bit short because I had been ferrying the kids here, there and everywhere as they were members of lots of clubs when they were younger. DH has always let me get on with things in the house and garden which he likes to look nice and he likes me to look nice too – he expects me to dress well, with my hair and make-up nicely done – he says he hates it if I “look a mess” - fortunately I like clothes and fashion so it is no big problem and he always compliments me on how nice I look: I posted before that I go to a hair and beauty salon and he pays direct as he does the salon owner's accounts (we live near a small market town and one of his justifications for insisting I make an effort with my appearance is that as everyone knows that I am his wife when I am shopping locally or working in the library a couple of afternoons a week I am “representing” his accountancy company). As I get older (with the children not beginning around so much and us being on our own more) I am beginning to realise that maybe he is a bit controlling, or is he? When I was 26 he set me up with a pension which he pays into, I want for nothing, I go out with friends and to the theatre so it hard put a finger on anything in particular but when I look back I think DH has defiantly pulled the strings and done what he wants and in a way manipulated me but then again would I change it? I love DH and I am happily married - it is just that DD has put the thought into my head and now I am questioning things I used to take for granted.

OP’s posts: |
Singlenotsingle Fri 19-Oct-18 20:29:31

Sorry, I honestly can't see what the problem is. He earns good money, he doesn't keep you short, you get money for luxuries, you've got your own account; you both like that you treat yourself and look nice. He set up a pension for you. If you don't want him, I'll have him. (Actually, no I won't. I like to slob around in jeans and no make up! grin) Are you feeling guilty that youve got nothing to moan about, and you're looking for something?

MrsJamesFraser Fri 19-Oct-18 20:34:55

OP I apologise profusely if this is genuinely your life but your post does not ring true. This feels like bait to have the vipers shouting "he's abusive!" You've essentially said your looks ate paramount to him and insinuated he provides financially as long as you look the part. I don't believe if this was truly happening and you'd only just clocked onto it that you could be so succinct.

TalkInRiddles Fri 19-Oct-18 20:37:05

The controlling part for me is where he says he "hates it if you look a mess."

It's up to you his you dress and what you wear and if you're comfortable with how you dress/look that's all that matters. So if that includes dressing down for a change, then so be it.

I do get the sense, and correct me if I'm wrong here, that you have had to dress a certain way for his benefit. As long as you were happy with that then I see no problem

noego Fri 19-Oct-18 20:37:47

I think what you're trying to say is that you have played the role (eastwick wife) perfectly, but you have lost yourself.

Is that a fair assessment?

OverTheHedgeSammy Fri 19-Oct-18 20:37:50

Is he controlling, or does he just make the decisions and you let him out of inexperience when young, and habit now that you're older?

He might be controlling, but he might not be. Is there anything you'd like to do differently?

Sickoffamilydrama Fri 19-Oct-18 20:37:57

What did your DD say?

It's interesting you don't have a joint account and had to ask for/ justify money in the past.

I like to look nice but today I'm studying so look a mess my husband may prefer me dressed up but he doesn't hate it if I'm like this or voice anything about it really.

I do wonder if you are living in a gilded cage and are just noticing?

DonnaDarko Fri 19-Oct-18 20:42:04

I don't think he's being controlling.

If it is that you don't like him spending so much on you, maybe work full time and pay for your own hair cuts

Seniorschoolmum Fri 19-Oct-18 20:47:14

Op, it sounds very nice to me - beats being a single mum with a mortgage and definitely no villa in Spain...except that I can slob on the sofa in my pjs until noon at the weekend if I want to. The fact that he has created a pension in your name is sensible tax planning but also suggests NOT controlling because it means you will have funds to walk away, should you ever want to.

I think you’ll know if you ever are not able to be smart and well turned out, or if you suddenly decide you want to study or travel or something, and he tries to stop you.

Your dd may see something you haven’t but she may just be going through her outraged student phase. Until you can point to something specific, I think I’d just enjoy life. smile

PoshPenny Fri 19-Oct-18 20:51:12

He's an accountant, of course he's going to ask where the money's gone if you're short one month and have to ask for more, its second nature to him! No he doesn't sound controlling, why does your daughter think he is? Just because someone likes everything neat and tidy, structured and ordered doesn't make them a control freak! Sounds like you have a nice comfortable life to me.

homebirds Fri 19-Oct-18 20:59:32

Why don't you work?

AttilaTheMeerkat Fri 19-Oct-18 21:16:26


I would like to know what your DD said about her dad as you have not specified what she said. Its indeed triggered something within you here otherwise you would not have posted.

Controlling behaviours are hard to spot because many people simply do not recognise them as being controlling. You've seen such replies from some respondents here in response to your comment.

These behaviours do smack of control but are truly insidious in their onset. This is also why they are hard to spot and on the whole your life with him you think has been a happy one. But its the one he has wanted you to lead.

I think there are some controlling indicators re this man; the fact that he sees you as some sort of trophy wife to display for his benefit, the fact that he has given you an allowance (itself demeaning and giving away more of your own power and control within the relationship) for clothes and other things like make up. I am not surprised he readily agreed to pay for your breast augmentation op. However, when it came to more mundane stuff like needing more petrol for your car then you likely had to explain yourself more to him.

Whether by subtly making you feel less attractive than they are, constantly reinforcing their professional accomplishments as compared to yours, or even comparing you unfavorably to their exes, controlling people often want you to feel grateful that you are in a relationship with them. This creates a dynamic where you will be more willing to work harder and harder to keep them and make them happy—a dream for someone who wants to dominate a relationship.

Often a controlling partner has a way of using you as a weapon against yourself, by planting seeds of doubt about whether you're talented or smart or hard-working enough to make good things happen in your life. This is another way they can take away your autonomy, making you more beholden to them—and serving their purposes quite nicely.

Are your finances still separate now in relation to bank accounts?. Has he been fully transparent with the finances here?.

KataraJean Fri 19-Oct-18 21:18:06

I guess the key to whether he is controlling is what would happen if you did decide to just spend the day in leisure wear with no make up and leave the house a bit of a mess because you were studying for a course you want to do - in other words, if you figure out what you want to do, and go on and do it - would he support you or try to put you back into the pretty and compliant wife?

The only way to find out is to start to be the person you want to be. If your life is how you want it, excellent. If it is not, why not and how can you do what you want?

Choose your own hair salon. Decide how you want to present. Ask him to help make the house look nice. Find study or a job more than a couple of hours in the library. Be yourself not how he has created you. If he supports that, he is not controlling, he has just provided the best he can. If he questions or challenges what you are doing, then that is a different situation.

I see why you are disconcerted - I would be questioning how much of it was my life and how much was a service role in his life.

Robin2323 Fri 19-Oct-18 21:32:46

I have a daughter about the same as you.
Funny out they seemed to think they know what best you.
They don't
They are entitled to their opinions but they don't know how you feel.
Ask your own questions and listen to your answers.
Your life seems pretty good but
That's doesn't stop you from growing.
Everyone needs to stretch now and then.

Charlotte48 Fri 19-Oct-18 22:03:18

Thanks for all the replies - which are very interesting to hear different viewpoints. DD is doing sociology at Uni and can’t understand mine (or DH’s) interest in fashion and looking nice and thinks DH controls me – she says he wants me to be a submissive housewife and as TalkinRiddles says, she says I have to dress a certain way for his benefit. The reason the OP appears succinct is I have been writing it for weeks as a word doc and changing it as I have been scared to put it on as I am new to MN. I agree that my life is pretty good and in truth I have not got a lot to moan about – maybe I just wanted to moan about a problem that wasn’t there after reading a lot of posts on MN! I think the thing is when I married DH I was a bit naïve and went along with everything he said as Neogo says and lost myself a bit and as OverTheHedgeSammy says it is now a habit now as I have let him make the decisions for so,, so long. I think with DD being at Uni and DS around his g/fs a lot I am starting to question things and maybe to say is DH controlling is wrong – it maybe more about “empty nest syndrome” and me thinking I have lived for our kids and DH – I got the job in the library about two years ago to get me out of the house but it doesn’t pay much as it is only a couple of afternoons. Our accounts are still separate and nothing has changed in regard to him paying money each week to my account. He is quite secretive about money and investments but I do have some ISAs in my name (he set up), the pension and we both have wills and living wills so he does take care of me.Thanks again for all the replies.

OP’s posts: |
BrightLightsAndSound Fri 19-Oct-18 22:35:24

No hes not controlling.

The deal was you look nice and he funds your lifestyle.

Musti Sat 20-Oct-18 01:05:12

I was in a controlling relationship and was given an 'allowance' etc. That to me isn't right. Yes not your boss, he's your partner and your equal. Finances etc should be jointly discussed and controlled unless there is a good reason not to. It's not your job to look a certain way but again, it's like he's your boss.

Why don't you discuss this with him and ask him to give you equal knowledge and control of finances. From now on, dress how you like and go to whatever salon you want. If you're hesitant to do this, then I think he is controlling and you've been conditioned to behave a certain way. If you're happy, then stay like that but I wouldn't be happy. I want to be my own adult person making my own decisions.

stumpyteapot Sat 20-Oct-18 08:07:57

I'd be concerned at being the 'trophy ' wife and that if I should loose my looks he will seek a younger model.

ElspethFlashman Sat 20-Oct-18 08:17:24

I don't know that it's controlling, really. You do have an interest in fashion and looking nice yourself, it's not as if you hate it, or apparently want to look any different.

I think your DD is just looking at your very traditional marriage and thinking that it's not for her. Fair enough, it wouldn't be for me either.

But that doesn't mean it's not a valid partnership. He is very rigid in how he expects his wife to look, but if that aligns with how you actually want to look, then he doesn't actually have to be particularly controlling about it. He may have been with a woman like me, who slobs around when off duty, and it may have been a disastrous match. But it seems to have worked out for you both.

He is not mean with money, and being secretive doesn't matter when there's no divorce on the horizon - you inherit anyway.

It's hard to cope with your daughters disapproval, but her life is not your life

KataraJean Sat 20-Oct-18 08:21:32

I think being secretive does matter - otherwise it is not an equal marriage, he knows financial details and the OP does not. He has free access to family funds and the OP does not. He can make financial decisions, the OP may be consulted but she cannot take any initiative - and so on.

Whisky2014 Sat 20-Oct-18 08:27:03

I'm not sure. What would happen if you just stopped your efforts to look nice? I think it would be at that point you see he is controlling. But up to now you've gone along with it so it...
I think if i was in your position id look for a better job, start doing what I wanted to do/wear etc. Your husband sounds very traditional and if he ever commented on my look I'd tell him where to go!

Lookatyourwatchnow Sat 20-Oct-18 08:30:57

I get my hair and nails done all the time, have also had a breast enlargement, always wear make up and usually wear heels. If, however, my DP gave me an allowance and suggested that I needed to look nice for him I would probably change into a tracksuit and odd socks, and then leave him.

TulipsInBloom1 Sat 20-Oct-18 08:36:37

I wouldnt want to be "done up" because of someone else. Id want to be just for me. Do you ever avoid having a "comfies" day because its 'not worth the hassle'? When you buy clothes, do you choose things you like or is your first thought 'will dh like this?'

When you are ill, can you let things slide a bit while you recover? Ie house, hair, make up etc.

Do you have your own group of friends and do things with them apart from dh?

category12 Sat 20-Oct-18 08:38:18

You don't really talk about emotions here and it sounds quite transactional.

So, what I'd ask you is: Do you feel loved by him? Do you love him? If it's a gilded cage, is it one you're happy in? If you wanted something more or something else, would he support you or try to shut you down?

53rdWay Sat 20-Oct-18 08:43:20

I’m puzzled about why he’s saying things about how he hates you to ‘look a mess’ and you need to dress fashionably because you’re representing his company. You say you already do hair/makeup/clothes the way he likes. So in what context is he saying that? Is he finding fault with how you look sometimes, or is he still talking about how you shouldn’t “look a mess” even though you haven’t in 20 years of marriage?

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