It is your marriage that suffers when your husband plays mind games with you.

Is it such a bad thing when your man wants to get inside your head?

It sure can be.

You can end up as a casualty if your husband decides he wants to act in a somewhat devious manner.

And yes, I think it is a devious act of your lover if he decides to try to get inside your head for the wrong reasons

Husbands should not be trying to screw with their wive’s minds.

They shouldn’t act like they hate you, when they really don’t.  I get into that whole topic in the post below…

A relationship should not play out like a chess match. While your husband may succeed in achieving some short term gain with his “mind play”, ultimately this kind of communication style is a dead end.

does husband play mind games

Such tactics can even border on marital emotional abuse if carried out to the extreme

Though not always.

Sometimes husbands turn to such devices for purposes of playfully teasing you, with the attitude of “no harm, no foul.” You may both do it to each other.  And that is fine.

Today, we are going to talk more about the negative concequences of husbands who spend far too much time trying to get inside your head and influence your behavior to his advantage.

So when your husband stoops low and embraces certain psychological techniques with the purpose to punish you or tweak you in some way,  he is definitely misbehaving.

Indeed, such behavior can rise to the level of cruelty.

And yes, these kind of communication methods can end up hurting the marriage.

For example, as I discussed in the article below, some guys will purposely shut down communications with you in an attempt to try and get inside your head.

Relationships seldom work well when one party of the marriage is employing shady techniques to dominate the conversation and decision-making.

The best marriages make use of frequent open and genuine communication, quality time spent together, acts of kindness.

Take those things away, the marriage suffers.

Why Does Your Husband Play Games?

why husbands confuse their wives

I hear from my clients everyday about a wide range of topics.

It is not unusual when I encounter  a married woman who is beside herself with what to do when her husband is trying to get inside her head.

A woman knows when she is  being pushed and prodded.

All of us can be influenced by a mere suggestion.

And if it is coming from the guy your love and trust, then it can have even more influence.

For example, take these examples of things husbands told their wives and ask yourself what would you do if your spouse acted this way.

“He told me yesterday that I was really looking sexy these days, then he used the “but” word.  He suggested that I should lose  6-8 pounds so that I would look even hotter.  What on earth do I need to do to please this man?  Am I really sexy by his standards or is my husband trying to tell me (wink wink) that I am getting fat? He knows how I grind on every little thing he says.”

I hate it when my husband plays his little mind games.  He thinks he is being clever and is going to get me pull the wool over my eyes, but the truth is that I see through his game playing. Does he think I am stupid? Still, though, I can’t get certain things out of my head.  He tries to insinuate that I wouldn’t mind if he spent the weekend at a conference.  He invited his secretary to go along for “for the experience”.  Of course I would mind and I know a lot of his co-workers are going with their spouses. I am no fool and giving me a gift card to visit a spa so that he is free to do his thing at the conference isn’t going to make me feel better. He tries to throw me off by telling me I am overly jealous and that I need to work on that.  But, honestly, I don’t trust him”

Does your husband stoop to little psychological ploys to accomplish his end game?

Is that his strategy?  To control and influence your behavior?

Or is your husband’s behavior reflecting a lack of maturity or an underlying emotional dysfunction.

6 Reasons Why Your Husband Wants To Get Inside Your Head?

is he trying to get in your head

You would think that in marriage, we all would behave ourselves.

You would think that we would interact with each other with love and understanding and our communications would be straight up.

But neither a husband (or wife) will be 100% straight up and honest with you about all things.

And for various reasons, your man might decide that he wants to resort to mind gaming.

Here are 5 reasons why your guy may turn to subterfuge and some shifty communication patterns.

1. Your husband seeks to control you.  He may be wired in such a way where exerting dominance and control in all areas of his and your life, makes him feel more secure. He wants to be the top dog. His thinking is that if he can finesse some of his words, he might just lodge some ideas in your mind which supports whatever he secretly desires to accomplish. So the underlying motive of his mind game is to influence or even manipulate you to do or agree with something.  I call these the “Bad Boy Husbands”.  They know better, but they do it anyway because exercising full control of the relationship is paramount in their minds.

2. Your husband is trying to be clever in an effort to test you.  At different points in our marriage, we can all plead guilty of employing this tactic.  In this situation, your lover may be unsure about how you feel or may react to something.  So he puts out a “trial balloon” to gauge how you might respond. Testing one’s wife, is not necessarily a bad thing if the underlying motive is to gain some insight into your thoughts about a potentially touchy subject.  But some husbands test their wives not such much because they are trying to get a “lay of the land“, but so as a means of prodding you.  They may be figuring out what your boundaries are.  And once they ascertain that information, they will use it for their own devices. Or maybe your husband does this as a way to tickle his fancy. Yes, it happens.  Some men, in the name of humoring themselves, will play mind games just to get a kick out of watching you squirm.  In this example, his aim is not so much to gently tease you, but rather fulfill some other deeper need.

3. He may be trying to get under your skin.  He figures, “if I can get in her head, I can agitate her just a bit“.  In your husband’s mind, it may be fair sport.  There is a certain degree of mean spiritedness associated with this approach.  But some husbands have a little cruel streak and if they can see that you get agitated, it gives them their kicks.

4. Your husband could be harboring resentment for you.  So as a way to get up inside your mind, he seizes opportunities to confuse you and throw you off-balance.  It’s his way of getting back at you.  Sort of a passive aggressive approach to possibly evening the score.

5. You lover may have narcissistic tendencies.  I sure hope this is not the case, but I have talked to plenty of women whose husband’s were so full of themselves, they eagerly took sport in knocking you down to build up their ego. Their behavior could take the shape of bullying you to submission. For them to feel “big”, they have to try to make you feel “small”. But remember, the bully husband is the coward and insecure one.  So if your husband is cut from this cloth, given to picking on you just because “he can”, just know that he is the weak one.

6. Your husband is being devious and is seeking to manipulate you. It is sad that husbands and wives will resort to clever and devious tactics to gain an advantage.  Marriages should be open and honest, whereby trust leads the way. But if your man seems to have a penchant for backing you into a corner and making you feel insecure, then he probably suffers from many of the things described above.  So your hubby could be a control freak, a narcissist, an agitator, and a manipulator.  If you have one of those kind of guys in your life, trust me, you can do much better.

What Can You Do If Your Husband Is Playing Mind Games?

whisper truth in husband's ear

Let’s start first with what you shouldn’t do.

Don’t try to turn it around and play your husband’s game.  Don’t go up to him and whisper something in his ear that you hope will fry his brain.

You will be tempted and it will feel really good if you got some shots in that causes him to squirm with uncertainty.

But in the long run, such a strategy will undermine your efforts in improving the marital relationship.

Start first with trying to understand why your husband is playing these games. Ask yourself, if it is anything you are doing that might encourage him to communicate with you in this manner and treat you in such a dishonest and self-serving way.

If your husband behaves in this fashion on occasion, but not frequently, then you have something to work with.

Like I said, none of us are completely immune to relationship foibles.

When you recognize that he is getting into the wrong lane in how he is talking to you, call him out.

It is better to whisper in his ear, “I know what you are trying to do and I want you to stop”.  I bet you have never done that and that is why it will get his attention.

Doing something a bit out of character (such as whispering a little truth in his ear) is more likely to resonate.

Tell him that you think he is doing an “end run” and playing some subtle mind games.

This approach is called “naming your objection“.

Put a face on what he is doing and call him out for it.  Don’t allow him to get away with yanking your chain.  You don’t want him to be comfortable with making little comments designed to set you off.

When you do this, he will understand you recognize the game he is playing and it will lose appeal.

When you do call him out on his behavior, you need not be mean or cruel.  Just say it as a matter of fact.

But beyond calling him, which is akin to “putting a face” on your husband’s undesirable behavior, you should offer up the consequences of his passive aggressive efforts to screw with your mind.

You can explain how you feel when he resorts to this behavior.

Your husband needs to understand that you not only calling him out on it, but he needs to understand how this undesirable marital behavior is undermining the communication between the two of you.

Your husband needs to understand that when he “plays mind games” he is fooling no one and is creating an environment of distrust and resentment.

Cut Through Your Husband’s Deceit

Cut through your husband's deceit

Quite frankly, when your husband turns to words and actions intended to confuse you or throw you off, it amounts dishonesty.

Your lover should not treat you in a deceitful and manipulative way.  He needs to understand this.  When we treat somebody in a deceitful way, we are prone to do it again and again.

And that leads to a couple trouble.


The instigator of this behavior, unless called out, will become comfortable with his routine.  This kind of behavior is destructive to marriages if it is carried out in a regular way.

Sure, there will be times when both husband and wife will playfully yank each other’s chain.

This kind of by-play between two lovers is to be expected and is healthy.

But we are not talking about fun and loving ways to enjoy each other’s company.

In the examples I cited above, the “mind games” are emerging from a negative place and such behavior does not serve the marriage.

Once you have pointed these things out, it would be time to paint the future.

Describe to him the desired future state of the marriage when neither of you are stooping low to get under the other’s skin.

In a sense, you are presenting to your husband a better way of interacting and what your expectation are.

To get to that place, your husband should know how his behavior personally effects you.

You see, that is the problem a lot of guys and gals have when they resort to mind games.

They often don’t ever learn how much these little psychological games hurt their loved one.

You need to spell out (without emotion or judgement) just how you are made to feel when you are a victim of this tactic.  Say things like:

I am made to feel unloved. I feel used and manipulated.  I feel as if you perceive me as a lesser person when you resort to this ploy.  I worry that my husband takes me for granted.  I am made to feel like a rag doll that can be jerked around at my husband’s whim. I have zero tolerance for being treated this way by anyone.” 

Final Thoughts If Your Husband Thinks He is a Clever One

clever husbands can see the light

I know it is easy to for me to say to open up and confront (in a non confrontational, positive way) your husband about his attraction to little psychological games he may play with you.

I realize it is hard to break established marriage routines.

I also understand that when a guy is caught and called out on his behavior, he will often just deny that he was doing anything manipulative or sneaky or clever.

Often, a guy will go even deeper into the mind game as he denies and even feigns disbelief that he would even be accused of such a thing.

He might even accuse you of playing games with him.

Yep, sometimes he might try to get in your head coming and going.

If that is the way he wishes to “play it”, then don’t fall into the trap.

Don’t give him the satisfaction of an emotional response.  In most of these cases, when a guy resorts to such psychological tactics, he is looking for a reaction from you.  That could be where he gets his kicks.

Now, on the other hand, if your husband is a control freak or narcissist, you may need to dose out a different cure for these kinds of guys.

Unfortunately, we have run out of time to discuss these special challenges.

But I will be taking up the Bad and Ugly versions of the Mind game and how to deal with a husband who use such tactics in the very near future.


How likely is your marriage to succeed?

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8 responses to “Is Your Husband Playing Mind Games With You?

  1. Please hurry and post the next article on the bad and ugly mind games. My husband behaves exactly as you described in the end and I’m often left frazzled and being made to feel like I am a horrible person and need to apologize. After 6 years and two kids I don’t even recognize myself anymore. I can’t bring up any issues gently enough without him twisting it around into something that is my own fault. For example: I left him for two weeks in 2014 because he often said cruel things to me and was constantly demanding that I make “continuous unprovments” on how well I serve him. So I had a sick baby, was expected to keep the house spotless, have a hot dinner ready for him, and never ask for any help with anything or else I was selfish, lazy, incompetent…
    Anyway, the final straw was when the baby and I had the flu, and I had been throwing up nonstop. He watched tv all night, I knew better than to ask for help with dinner and clean up…and I knew better than to not cook too. In the middle of the night I had a high fever and woke up only to puke on the bed. Then the baby puked. (Baby slept in another room with me because baby crying disturbed his rest). I had to wake him up to hold our crying baby though so that I could clean the mess and change sheets. I was cleaning the mess and it had been around 3 min of husband holding baby when he kicked the bedroom door open and told me to hurry the f up. I broke. I was sobbing and just threw up again in a small trash can before taking our baby and we just slept on a bare mattress the rest of the night…while he went to bed like nothing happened. So yeah, I left three days later when we were better. He blames me for leaving. The example I was trying to bring up was the other day there was some movie where a woman was leaving her husband for calling her names and yelling at her. He turned to our two sons and said, “Women! Boys…listen. Only WEAK people leave relationships…heartless gutless pieces of crap do that to the ones they love!” I completely lost it. I didn’t yell but I firmly told him I didn’t appreciate his indirect ways of pinching me emotionally. He looked so cold at me and said I was crazy…that he was talking about the movie, not me. Then he added that any feelings I have about what he says are my problem and I had to grow up and deal with them. I am inches from leaving again but our marital arrangement has left him with all the power and control…financially etc. Is there a way to fix this or am I just stuck keeping quiet and doing anything I can to keep the peace…I can never succeed at that.

    1. Hi Anonymous Wife! I am so sorry you are having to deal with such a difficult situation. I wish I had a magic wand and could turn your husband in a much more caring and kind human being. The behavior you described coming from him is emotional abuse. All of us kind of lose it and say and do the wrong things to the one we love now and again. But those times should be infrequent. It seems it is happening with regularity to you.

      There are always options. A marriage counselor is one, though your husband may not agree to it unless he was really committed in holding the marriage together. Do you have a support system that you could fall back on if you decided to separate for good? (like close family or friends you could live with or get financial assistance). The pragmatic thing to do is to seek to improve the relationship. Of course it takes two to tango. So you should also have an exit plan if the marriage continues to suffer. It is not sustainable if the marriage continues to get rocked by conflict.

  2. Hi thanks for this article. I’m wondering if you could help me understand something. I try to do things well at home so everyone is happy, but even when things are perfect and I do something/buy something/make something that I KNOW my husband totally loves and is delighted with, he ALWAYS downplays it as much as possible- he’ll ignore it, not make any comment unless I ask, and even then he’ll shrug and be like “yeah, it’s ok, I guess”. Now I know for a fact that he’s actually happy or excited or whatever – but WHY does he do this? Why can’t he just say the truth and smile and show he’s happ with me? I feel it’s a weird power dynamic thing but I don’t really get it, if I understood WHats behind this behaviour maybe It would stop upsetting me so much. Thanks a lot xxx

    1. I am not sure if I get it either. Is he trying to impress you with humility? Does he feel guilty he isn’t doing enough to please you? Does he not think he is deserving? Is he going through a bit of a funk period? Not sure. Consider asking him, next time in a non defensive way.

  3. After 6 yrs married, the 1st 2, he broke things, physically abused until his “ma” said, “…never want to see bruised on her…,” now is verbal/emotional. Example – says, ” I’ve told u this a hundred times…what’s ur problem?! ” ( 1st i heard); then the kitchen sink is backing up because I don’t “rinse the gd, f’ing dishes!”; says I asked him to put the flag out for veterans day (which I did) then I noticed he did the next day. Says he says “…watched me do it, you’re losing your mind! It’s your mission in life to drive me crazy (hear this a lot).” I am certain i did not witness this. Many instances like this happen. I am 57, menopasol, he makes me doubt myself & wonder if I am losing my mind. But, in my heart of hearts, my gut
    tells me I am NOT CRAZY. I react exactly like he wants, every time, only to realize too late, I fell for it.

    If I have let him get away with his abuse for so long, is it too late to start setting boundries? I’ve read a plethora of info on narrs., why he loves/hates me, etc etc. etc. for years now. His “ma” (I’m starting to get it) is manipulative, denies, gamed, guilt trips. Trying to learn, recognize because I cannot leave (financial) how to respond. I AM NOT STUPID, but naive at times. He’s a narrs I’m pretty sure. Half-ass tried to treat him like he treats me. Cannot do it. It’s not me, then I’d be like him.

    Advice, please. He prob. won’t change. Survival tips?

    Peace. Lori

    1. Kindly advice how to deal with `Bad and Ugly versions of the Mind game` persons?. I was also facing the same issue with my husband.

  4. Many wives do this too. ‘Kind of disingenuous for the author to imply that it is essentally a problem with men…more husband bashing?