Having a possessive husband can make life quite difficult. You may feel as if you are never able to spend time on your own or have separate interests from him. At times, you may even feel as if he doesn’t recognize you as being deserving of your freedom.
This does not make for a happy relationship, and you may be wondering if there is anything you can do to change him. Knowing how to control possessiveness in love can help you to cope with the reality of living with a possessive husband.
What is a possessive husband
Before diving into the details of how to deal with possessiveness in relationships, it is first important to understand what makes a possessive husband. Put simply, a possessive husband is one whose behavior crosses the line from caring to jealous and distrustful.
A husband with a possessive nature will be controlling. He may dictate how you dress, who you can spend time with, and what you are and are not allowed to do. At the heart of possessiveness is a fear of losing you.
Your possessive husband will be overly controlling because he worries you will leave him and feels he cannot trust you to be loyal.
Keep in mind that we can all be a little possessive in relationships because love and possessiveness can go hand-in-hand, to an extent.
For instance, you may become irritated when someone is flirty with your husband in public, or you may worry if another girl “likes” a photo he posts on social media. This is a normal degree of possessiveness.
On the other hand, a possessive husband will present as overly jealous and paranoid, to the point that he may not even allow you to have a social media account.
Put simply, the answer to “What is possessiveness?” is that it is all about control.
A possessive partner will take behaviors such as asking for your whereabouts and worrying about how you are doing to the extreme because he is jealous and insecure and feels the need to control your every move to deal with these emotions.
10 signs of a possessive man
Possessiveness in relationships typically comes along with several key signs. In general, possessive behaviors appear controlling and tend to involve a high degree of jealousy.
Consider the 10 signs of a possessive man below:
1. When you are not together, he texts you constantly
A possessive husband is likely to have an underlying fear that you will abandon the relationship or be unfaithful to him. This means that he will text you nonstop when you are not together to ensure that you are not doing anything to betray him.
You may meet a friend for coffee, and he will send a barrage of text messages to check up on you. Not only does this help him to ease his fears that you may be doing something disloyal, but it also allows him to continue to be the center of your attention.
Remember that possessiveness in relationships is rooted in jealousy, so the possessive husband may be worried that you may attract attention from other men if you dress a certain way. He may even think that if you wear a revealing outfit, you are purposely trying to attract attention.
This can cause him to become angry and set guidelines about what you can and cannot wear.
Whether he expects you to spend all your free time with him, never work late, or give up all hobbies of your own to make him the center of your world, the possessive husband will never seem happy because his expectations are simply unrealistic.
You will find yourself giving up your own life and interests to please him, only to find that he expects the impossible of you.
8. You notice that he gets in the way of your life goals and dreams
In a healthy relationship, partners want each other to be the best versions of themselves. This means that they support each other in accepting promotions at work, going back to school to earn an additional credential, or taking advantage of a travel opportunity.
On the other hand, possessiveness in relationships can lead one partner to sabotage the other’s goals, as he doesn’t want any attention taken off of him.
9. He is offended when you want to do anything separately from him
If you ask for space, even if it’s just a few hours here and there to get coffee with a friend, go for a walk, or spend some quiet time alone, the husband who is possessive will be incredibly offended.
He is so needy of your time and attention that any time apart, even if it’s just you needing a little space, will be unacceptable to him.
10. He doesn’t want to make any plans of his own
Even in a committed marriage or relationship, it is natural to want to make plans separately from your partner. If your husband never wants to golf with the guys or partake in his own hobbies, this is a sign he is possessive.
He doesn’t want to take time away from being glued to you in order to pursue his own interests.
10 ways to deal with a possessive husband
So what are you supposed to do to get rid of possessiveness when you recognize that your husband is showing this behavior?
Possessive men psychology can provide some solutions. Keep in mind that a man who is possessive in relationships often has his own insecurities, so addressing these insecurities will be necessary to improve the behavior.
Consider the 10 solutions below:
1. Reassure him
Possessiveness comes from a place of fear over losing you and the relationship. A little reassurance of your love and your commitment to the relationship can go a long way toward easing your partner’s fears, which in turn, will result in him toning down his possessive nature.
2. Bring the issue to his attention
If you continue to be quiet about your husband’s possessiveness and the problems it causes, you will never resolve the issue. This means that it is time to have an honest conversation about the issue. Tell your husband that you feel he is overly possessive and it’s making you uncomfortable.
3. Give him some affection
If your husband is overly possessive because of insecurities, giving some extra affection can make him feel better. Show some extra physical affection, or compliment him on his appearance or everything he does for the family. This may be all he needs to dial back the possessive behavior.
A possessive husband is likely to be demanding of your time, making it difficult for you to engage in your own hobbies or spend time with friends. This makes it critical that you set boundaries with him.
For instance, you might tell him that you will text him when you arrive at your friend’s house and when you are leaving to come home, but make it clear that you will be enjoying your time with your friend and will not spend your entire time together on the phone.
You might also tell him that when you are at work, you cannot be expected to always answer a phone call or to respond to a text immediately.
Check out this video about boundary setting tips in marriage:
5. Have a discussion about the root of the problem
Possessive men psychology tells us that many issues with insecurity and possessiveness have roots in childhood.
Explore what may be going on to make him so worried that he needs to check on your whereabouts at all times or spend 100% of his waking moments with you. Getting to the root of the problem can help him recognize the changes he needs to make to be happier in the relationship.
6. Try not to react with anger
When your husband is jealous and possessive, reacting to his behavior with anger will only make the situation worse. Avoid the urge to yell at him or become defensive. Instead, take a deep breath if needed, and remain calm.
Since possessiveness is linked to jealousy and insecurity, your partner may feel more comfortable with your friends if you sometimes involve him when you go out with them. This allows him to meet them and learn that they are not a threat to your marriage.
Your husband may not be aware of just how possessive he is, so one way of how to control possessiveness in love is to point out to your partner specific behaviors that are not acceptable to you.
For example, you might tell him that calling you repeatedly throughout the workday, placing a tracker on your phone, or going through your emails is not acceptable.
9. Give things time
Recognize that even if you tell your husband that you’re uncomfortable with his possessiveness and set boundaries around his behavior, he is not going to change immediately.
You will need to give him time to overcome his insecurities and adjust to your new expectations. He may backslide from time to time and require you to hold him accountable by pointing out when he is reverting to old ways.
10. Consider therapy
The truth is that possessiveness in relationships can have roots in some issues that extend way back to childhood. Possessiveness can also be related to a mental health condition like a borderline personality disorder.
If this is the case, your husband will likely need therapy to learn how to stop being possessive in a relationship.
The two of you might go to therapy together to work on the relationship, or your husband may benefit from going to therapy on his own to address the underlying issues that are leading to possessive behavior.
Occasional, mild jealousy and protective behavior are natural in relationships, but if your husband becomes controlling, paranoid, and demanding of all of your time and attention, he has crossed the line into possessiveness.
There are things you can do to address the behavior, but in some cases, possessiveness in relationships can escalate to emotional abuse or even domestic violence. No one is deserving of a marriage that involves abuse or violence.
If your husband is unable to manage this behavior, it may be time to leave the relationship for your own safety.
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.
Jenni Jacobsen is a licensed social worker with a master's degree in social work from The Ohio State University, and she is in the process of completing her dissertation for a Doctorate of Philosophy in Psychology. She has worked in the social work field for 8 years and is currently a professor at Mount Vernon Nazarene University. She writes website content about mental health, addiction, and fitness.
Licensed as both a social worker through Ohio Board of Counselors, Social Workers, and Marriage/Family Therapists and school social worker through Ohio Department of Education as well as a personal trainer through American Council on Exercise.