Marriage > Expressing Love > 5 Signs You’re Emotionally Suffocating Your Husband

5 Signs You’re Emotionally Suffocating Your Husband

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Is your marriage or relationship emotionally suffocating? Maybe you want to know what your husband is doing, going, texting or even eating at all times. Maybe your husband or boyfriend complains that you are suffocating him – or even that you’re overstepping healthy boundaries. Here, you’ll learn how destructive emotional suffocation can be and how to stop crowding your partner.

If you haven’t heard of healthy relationship boundaries, you’re in the right place. Learning about healthy boundaries will help you stop emotionally suffocating your husband. This is an important concept for women who tend to be a little needy and thus get over-involved in their marriages (which leads to emotional suffocation).

Boundaries are healthy, and offer space to move and grow. If you haven’t read any of the “Boundaries” books by Cloud and Townsend, start with Boundaries in Marriage. This book offers excellent advice for creating a strong marriage and for being healthy in all types of relationships. The healthier you are, the better your marriage will be…and the less you’ll need to emotionally suffocate your husband.


Of course, connection is important in a love and marriage – but there’s a difference between connection and suffocation. Suffocation smothers and kills relationships, and can destroy the love you’re trying so hard to protect. Focusing too much on your husband can destroy your marriage, which is ironic because your goal is to be closer! This is why healthy boundaries are so important; too much togetherness and emotional meshing can make your husband feel smothered. This is as unhealthy as emotional disconnection because it suffocates your husband. Ultimately, this will destroy your marriage.

What is Intimacy Overload?

Intimacy overload isn’t discussed as much as lack of intimacy or fear of intimacy. After all, we know that talking about your feelings, thoughts, and past experiences is part of a healthy relationship. You don’t need psychologists, counselors, or doctors to tell you that strong relationships are founded on communication and trust!

However, there is a limit to how much intimacy your husband can tolerate before he feels suffocated.If you depend on him for constant affirmation, unconditional love, and total protection – then you may be expecting too much from him. This is intimacy overload, and it’s one of the warning signs of a bad relationship. If you rely on your husband to increase your self-esteem, fulfill your needs, and discuss every emotion you feel, then you’re flirting with intimacy overload. This will drive your husband away. He’ll feel emotionally suffocated.

Signs You’re Suffocating Your Partner Emotionally
5 Signs You’re Suffocating Your Husband Emotionally

If you have excessive expectations in your marriage — such as unreasonable or unrealistic demands for your husband’s time, affection, or energy — then you run the risk of overwhelming him with your needs. You’ll suffocate your husband because he can’t meet your emotional demands.

Intimacy overload often involves blurred boundaries (which is why it’s good to read books about healthy emotional boundaries in marriage). Sometimes there is no line between two people — and this is unhealthy and suffocating. Blurred boundaries mean there are too many emotional demands, too much togetherness, and too much criticism in a marriage. Your husband’s feelings of suffocation and your emotional control becomes impossible to ignore, and neither you nor your husband are happy.

5 Signs You’re Suffocating Your Husband

  1. You feel like your husband is withdrawing from you, emotionally or physically.
  2. Friends and family tell you that you may be smothering your husband.
  3. You don’t feel comfortable going to events or doing activities on your own.
  4. You never feel like you can get close enough to your husband.
  5. Your husband tells you he feels suffocated (the biggest, strongest sign of emotional suffocation in a marriage!).

Are you emotionally suffocating your husband?

If you’re searching for information on emotional suffocation in a marriage, then you’re probably suffocating your husband. Maybe he told you that you’re crowding or smothering him, or you have a feeling you’re unhealthy emotionally. Deep down, you know you feel insecure, anxious and worried in your marriage.

Your husband may react to emotional suffocation by retreating and withdrawing. Men pull away when they feel emotionally suffocated in their marriages. Some therapists and counselors (and regular people) call it going into his “man cave.” Your husband will tune out when he feels like you’re suffocating him. Perhaps he’ll withdraw into his work, hobbies, or friends.


An extreme reaction to emotional suffocation in marriage is having an affair. Read Why Your Husband Cheated: A Marriage Style That “Allows” Affairs to learn more.

8 Ways to Stop Smothering Your Husband

Good news — you can stop emotionally suffocating your husband! Especially now that you know what you’re doing and how destructive it can be. Here are several ways to allow spaces in the togetherness of your marriage.

  1. Take time for yourself.
  2. Give your husband time, space, and room to breathe – both literally and metaphorically.
  3. Balance your need for intimacy with your husband’s need for space.
  4. Enjoy your own hobbies and interests. Stay in touch with yourself.
  5. Take time away from one another – “Let there be spaces in your togetherness,” said Rumi.
  6. Cultivate your own friendships, apart from your husband.
  7. Know who you are as a person, separate from him.
  8. Develop your own spiritual, personal, social, and professional self. Not knowing who you are can lead to insecurity and boredom, which in turn can lead you to emotionally suffocate your husband because you have nothing “better” to do.

The best way to stop suffocating your husband is to get as emotionally healthy as possible. How spiritually whole and centered are you? What’s your relationship with God like? How do you see yourself? Where do you get your identity and self-image?

Another important way to give your husband space is to mix autonomy and independence with interdependence and togetherness. When a healthy balance of connectedness and separateness exists, both you and your husband will feel happy in your marriage. You’ll have realistic expectations and mutual respect. You won’t struggle with “intimacy overload” and you won’t rely on your husband for your self-esteem.

A healthy way to give your husband emotional space is to let him go. You don’t have to leave your relationship or divorce your husband. Instead, learn ways to create spaces in your marriage. Give your husband room to breathe and space to grow. 

Your comments — big and little — are welcome below! What do you think about these signs of emotional suffocation, and my tips for giving your husband room to breathe?

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38 thoughts on “5 Signs You’re Emotionally Suffocating Your Husband”

  1. My husband says he loves me but is not in love with me that he feels trapped and suffocated. We work together which works fantastic and come home together we don’t really do anything on our own mainly because I sulk if he wants to do something without me.We also emigrated 3 years ago to a new country.He said he’s felt like this for a while .Hebsaid he’s mentally exhausted and needs to find him. All I’ve done for the last year is complain about me, He says I need to love me so he can see me.He said he prepared to try and make it work but we both have to realise it might not. What can I do to fix this? Can it be fixed

  2. I needed to read this. I didn’t realize that feeling of being smothered has been the root cause of the issues that have been going on recently.

  3. Laurie,
    I am 55 years old and should know all this but in truth I have no clue who I am. I have met a man that I need to give distance too but I cant breath for fear. The fear of being alone. The funny thing I am alone already. I have experience being a mom and wife. That was who I was and now my kids are grown up and my marriage is over after 27 years. its been 5 years. I would have thought I would know who I am by now, but I have not clue. I hope I can use your tips to help me through this very ruff spots in life. I hope I can figure out who I am..