Wife Feels Trapped by Controlling Husband

By Amy Dickinson | April 22nd, 2022

He threatens divorce if she ‘dares’ to take a trip

husband and wife argument at home. Photo by Iakov Filimonov Dreamstime. He’s a good husband, but he won’t let his wife travel. See what Ask Amy tells this woman who feels trapped by her controlling husband.

He’s a good husband father, but he won’t let his wife travel, even with their kids or to see her family. See what advice columnist Amy Dickinson tells this wife who feels trapped by her controlling husband, in this edition of Ask Amy.

Dear Amy:

I’ve been married to my husband for 29 years. He’s a good dad to our grown children and a good husband to me.

One thing gives me a lot of anxiety and causes heated arguments: I would like to visit my family and friends in Greece, where I am originally from.

He does not have as much time off from work as I do, and he dislikes taking long trips. He’s a homebody.

I have more time off from work, and I have the time and the means to travel to my homeland for a visit.

My husband and I have arguments over me traveling with our kids, or going away with my girlfriends for a couple of days.

He always guilts me or makes me afraid to go, and sometimes he even threatens me with a divorce if I go. We end up having huge fights about this.

Otherwise, he lets me do whatever I like to do.

He will absolutely not see a therapist.

I sometimes feel trapped because I have to make my case each time for why I want to go anywhere.

I wish I had a magic wand to make him understand that it is important for me to be with my family and to occasionally take overnight trips to see people in order to stay connected.

Your suggestions?


Dear Homebound:

Other than controlling your time away from your home, your husband “lets you do whatever you like to do.”

Yes, marriage is fueled by compromise, but one partner should not actually be in charge of the other.

The kindest assumption is that your husband feels extremely anxious about you being away from home, and he reacts to his anxiety by acting out and trying to control you.

I suggest that you sit down with him and say: “Over the next 12 months, I plan to be away from home overnight for a total of around 14 [or whatever number] nights. This includes a trip to Greece, and an overnight or two with the kids or my friends. I’d love for you to come with me to Greece, if you can swing it. I understand that this is hard for you.”

If your relatively brief sojourns away from home inspire him to threaten divorce or emotionally punish you, then you need to decide whether you are willing to tolerate that in order to stay with him.

Threats of divorce are an extremely manipulative tool to try to control you, made by someone who feels very out of control. These threats actually weaken your relationship. If this is his “go to” nuclear option, then you should call him on it.

Want to get even more life tips from Amy? Read more of her advice columns here!

In the tradition of the great personal advice columnists, Chicago Tribune’s Amy Dickinson is a plainspoken straight shooter who relates to readers of all ages. She answers personal questions by addressing issues from both her head and her heart – ranging from a controlling husband to DNA surprises. A solid reporter, Dickinson researches her topics to provide readers with informed opinions and answers. Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068

© 2021 by Amy Dickinson

More from Boomer