Husband is very controlling

I’ve been married 18 years, and B”H we have three wonderful children. I’ve stayed in the marriage for their sake, but I don’t think I can keep it up. My husband never lifted a hand to me, but from the very first day, he’s been controlling. Everything must be his way. I’ve tried to comply to please him, but nothing pleases him. He always finds something to make an issue of. We’ve been to marriage counseling, but to no avail. I am miserable and I know this is bad for the children. I dread bringing more children into this situation.

He does respect his Rav, so I went to him. He was furious with me for that. His Rav did talk to him, but it did not do any good.

He does not have any friends. He has turned everyone off. Everyone is doing things wrong.

I suspect that he is basically an unhappy person and is just looking for things to complain about. I feel sorry for him, but I realize that I cannot make him happy. I told him this and suggested that he gets therapy for himself, but he says that there is nothing wrong with him. I have cried my eyes out, but this has no impact on him.

The last thing that I want is a divorce, but I don’t think I can live the rest of my life with this.

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Shlomo Hamelech said, “All the ways of a person is rightful in his own eyes” (Mishle 21:2). Your husband is convinced that he is absolutely right, and anyone who does not see things his way is wrong. That includes you, the marriage counselor, and even his Rav. No amount of therapy will change him unless he comes to the point of considering, “Maybe I have been wrong. Maybe I should listen to what others say.” Unfortunately, he is not likely to admit that.

I have had experience with people who had an alcohol problem, where they were causing harm to themselves and others. No amount of pleading or reasoning had any effect. They cannot be budged from the conviction, “I am right. Everyone else is wrong.” This can go on for decades with ruinous consequences. The only thing that can bring an alcoholic around is when the drinking results in so severe a crisis that he can no longer deny it. This crisis causes him to admit, “Maybe I’ve been wrong,” and that realization can be the beginning of recovery.

You are probably right that he is an unhappy person, and probably has always been unhappy, but he refuses to recognize this. He probably thinks, “I would be happy if everyone did what I think is right.” If he could consider that there may be something within himself that precludes his being happy, he might be helped.

I don’t see what is going to bring your husband around to admitting, “Maybe, just maybe, others are right. Maybe the Rav is right.” Without some kind of crisis to make him consider this, there is little likelihood that he will change.

Inasmuch as he is not likely to change, you need help in what you should do. Even though he has not physically harmed you, control is emotional abuse. You should see someone for yourself, someone with competence in emotional abuse problems. You can get a referral from Shalom Task Force.