Marriage - Part 3: Tyranny and Dominance

Emeh Joy

Dominance is one problem that prevails in marriages and has caused clashes between spouses, yet it seems like a minor issue. People hardly talk about it, and when they do, it seems the female gender is always on the receiving end. Is dominance a form of abuse? How do you even identify a spouse that is controlling and dominating?

A man yelling at his wife

In Marriage - part 1 and part 2, we talked about some issues on infidelity, mainly coming from the part of the man. Perhaps, some other day, we would talk about when the woman cheats in a marriage.

Most talks about Marriage seem to centre more on infidelity issues, but the truth is that there are even other deeper issues that wreck the marital ship.

Dominance is one problem that prevails in marriages and has caused clashes between spouses, yet it seems like a minor issue. People hardly talk about it, and when they do, it seems the female gender is always on the receiving end.

Is dominance a form of abuse? How do you even identify a spouse that is controlling and dominating? These are questions that are much likely to cross the mind of readers.

I wouldn't want to say that dominance is 100 per cent abuse, but the reality is that dominance has a high tendency to breed abuse. 90% of spouses controlling, overbearing or domineering (whichever word you choose to use) abuse their partners emotionally or physically.

Now, I can already sense the female gender gathering here for a pity party. Pause, this isn't directed only to one gender but to both. Female partners, too, can be domineering in marriages, especially when they are the primary provider in the home (trust me, I have seen that happen).

But then, I will still give it to the men. There are higher cases of domineering men in marriages than there are women.

Someone would say it is because it is in the nature of men to be so. Another person would say that men have that ego they want to protect. And yet, another group would go ahead to quote the Scriptural passage that says, "wives should submit to your husbands as to the Lord".

I'm not about to debunk what the Bible says or to argue with your personal view (you are entitled to it), so let's not deviate. I'm just here to point out real marital issues. It isn't theory, it happens, and until you have experienced it, you may not know how deeply it can affect you.

How to identify a controlling/dominating partner

You know, one thing about traits is that they can hardly be hidden 100%. Even during your courtship/dating phase, it is likely to manifest at one point or another, but you may not see it then.

You know why? You are simply just living in the moment. The emotions are still fresh, tending to becloud your sense of judgement just as it does with an abusive partner. You are not living under the same roof with him/her; thus, you are yet to grasp their personality fully.

Sometimes even when you find out, you say to yourself that you can deal with only for you to enter the marriage and find out that it is indeed overbearing.

What are the red flags that point towards a domineering partner? A domineering partner will want to control everything you do, the entirety of your life! They try doing this in different ways, using different strategies.

Control using anger

Some get angry when their partner makes a simple mistake. They flair up and yell at their partner. They get verbally abusive and give their partner long talks as if their partner is a little child.

Not all hit their partners, but a good number do. Some give the silent treatment in place of yelling.

The use of comparison, criticisms and sarcasm

I don't know about you, but I hate comparison. Whatever you do, do not compare me with some folk out there. My journey and their own are not the same. We are different, unique in our ways.

But sadly, some people use this as a tool to control their spouse. The comparison is usually accompanied by criticism and sarcasm, making the other always feel inadequate or undeserving.

Acting superior to the other

I am not going to bring up the issue of leadership in the home here. The point here is that some partners end up questioning everything their partner does, making it seem like the other is dumb.

Imagine not having an opinion in your own house because your husband or wife feels he or she knows it all. Imagine having your partner put you down always, both in public and private because they always think they know better.

Disengagement from family and friends

Disagreement is one of the glaring signs of a controlling partner. They want to be in control of your circle, whom you relate with. You don't have the freedom to be with your friends, talk to them, or even make new ones.

They don't want you talking to family either. You may not see it coming or even know when you arrive there, but before you know it, you would find out that they have ended up making you dependent on them. Your whole life revolves around them, and you cant talk to anyone.

Read more here:

Controlling by instilling fear

Of course, we can't talk about tyranny without talking about fear. A marriage that is being run under a dictatorship always has one partner being scared of the other. It has one partner scared of making a mistake because he or she is afraid of how the other would react to it.

There is that constant anxiety when they are around because you know you would be yelled at for some minor issue. It can be depressing and sad.

Dominating in sexual ways

Let's not go into non-consensual BDSM, not because it is not common but because others are even much more common in marriages. Some are insensitive to their partner's sexual needs. There are days you would be too tired or feel unwell and won't feel like having sex.

A domineering partner will fail to understand that and will still want to have their way. Some will blame their partners when their sex life is miserable, yet the fault is theirs, or they are not doing anything either to make it better.

Some are only selfish and only care about satisfying their sexual urge, while some even go as far as threatening their partners that 'they will get it out there when the bedroom affair is not going exactly their way.

Blaming the other when things go wrong

One common trait of domineering partners is finding a way to blame their partner when something goes wrong, even when it is a decision they made alone. There is also the part where they always justify their lousy behaviour making you feel bad at the end.

There are different reasons why people try to control others in marriage. I want to point out that not all domineering partners are bad people.

For some, the environment where they grew up played a significant role. Some (especially the men) believe that things are meant to be under their control since they are in charge in the home. Some may not even realize their behaviour is toxic.

This is why you must communicate first with your partner before anything else. They should know how you feel about some of the things they do.

When you have talked and things still don't change, you should seek help, especially if you feel abused. In our subsequent discussion, we will talk about how to deal with a domineering partner.

Have you been in a relationship with a domineering partner before? Are you currently in one?

Have you talked to your significant other about it? Do you think you can share your stories, thoughts or suggestions? Feel free to drop in a comment in a comment box.