“My friend’s husband determines what she does in that he decides how the money is spent, how he wants to raise the children, and what she gets involved in. They appear a loving couple, but I’d feel smothered by that kind of care. She doesn’t have an opinion about anything; it’s only what he thinks that she’s able to repeat.”
In the best of circumstances, there are people who recognize our needs and nurture us. Some people just exude selflessness and generosity, believing that virtue has its own rewards. The motive of the nurturer is to empower the other, but the motive of the over-protector is to control – usually through creating indebtedness. That’s the difference between fostering autonomy (true love) and creating dependency.
The over-protector or the dominant spouse works to feed his/her own inadequacy. They want to minimize awareness of what they perceive as their own weaknesses, so they “over-care,” or “over-provide,” and place the focus on their partner’s faults. They bully, they impose rigid control or demonstrate abusive behavior when they don’t get what they want.
They may actually have a kind heart; outwardly they could be the perfect gentleman, but sadly this is overridden by a fragile self-esteem; they must feel important always and work to avoid abandonment at any cost, which causes them to “lash out” the second the “victim” no longer needs saving.
We don’t really know the situation around your friend so I’m spouting generalizations. If we look closely enough, what’s true is, our outer behavior usually represents our inner conflicts.