Could You Be Controlling But Not Realize It?

Many times people exhibit controlling behaviors without realizing it.

controlling in marriageOther times people are controlled and don’t know how to handle it in their marriage or otherwise.

Either way, controlling behavior can lead to a hostile and anxious environment, which is not what you want in a marriage (or anywhere really).

There are active and passive types of control, the passive behaviors being less obvious to the controller and the person being controlled.

Both are unhealthy.

If you suspect that you may be a controlling spouse but are not sure, it is wise to be educated on the signs and what you can do to change and heal any hurt that you may have done to your spouse.

How in the world would you not know that you are the controlling one in the relationship?

Let’s take a look at this scenario:

Macy doesn’t fully realize that she is causing her husband, Jared, to feel like a pushover and believes he has no control over anything in the relationship.

Jared is starting to get fed up with the way things are going in the marriage.

Macy seems to always get her way; she often pouts or makes an excuse or argument to justify getting what she wants, even if it is something trivial like the restaurant they are going to for dinner.

She tends to make plans without asking her husband and just assumes he will go along with it since she is “the planner.”

Macy also complains when Jared wants to make his own plans, such as grab a drink with his friends to catch up with them.

Jared needs to do something about the situation because it is causing a rift between the two and he doesn’t get the impression that Macy even realizes she is like this.

He even feels bullied by his wife.

People can definitely be more actively and deliberately controlling.

But in this example, Macy seems very passive aggressive and oblivious to the harm she is doing to her relationship.

If you made a connection with this scenario and are wondering if you are the controlling one in the relationship, there are many signs that indicate that this may be the case.

How To Know If You Are A Controlling Spouse

Here are some signs that you might be the controlling spouse in your marriage:

  • Decision-making is mostly done by you
  • You need to know where your spouse is at all times
  • You want to spend most of your time with your spouse (this is only a negative if accompanied by most of these other signs)
  • Having sex only happens when/if you want it
  • You make comments about your spouse’s clothes, hair, style, etc. in order for them to change it
  • Browsing through your spouse’s phone or browsing history is common for you
  • Pouting or getting angry to get what you want
  • You are unwilling to compromise on most things
  • You are a perfectionist and need to have things in the home up to your standards
  • You micromanage your spouse
  • You cause your spouse to feel guilty for various things in order to get your way

Going back to our controlling scenario:

Jared finally sits down with his wife and has a candid conversation about the controlling behaviors she is exhibiting that are frustrating him.

Initially, Macy gets defensive and does not recognize these behaviors.

Jared gives her very specific examples and lets her know how these affect him.

Macy finally realizes that she has been controlling and wasn’t even fully aware.

She and Jared discuss the issue some more and Macy admits that she needs to work on herself.

They come up with a plan.

What should Macy do?

How to Stop Controlling Your Spouse

Figure out the WHY—controlling behavior often stems from fear; the fear of being abandoned, feeling out of control, etc.

Be vulnerable and open to what your spouse has to say about how you are controlling.

It takes humility to accept that you are doing something hurtful and courage to change.

Know that it will be uncomfortable at first.

Change is hard…but worth it.

Realize that you cannot control everything around you or make everything perfect.

Perfectionism is not reality.

Learn to accept your spouse for who s/he is.

You got married because you love them and this should be unconditionally—not based on your ideals and standards.

Allow him or her to be their own person.

Deal with your anxiety.

The impulse to be perfect, micromanage, and control things around you often stems from anxiety.

Learn to be mindful, go meditate, and find coping skills to help lessen that anxious, out-of-control feeling.

Learn to feel relaxed taking the back seat sometimes (ideally even half of the time).

You don’t always have to be the driver in life (and shouldn’t be).

Allow your spouse to make decisions, be free to do what s/he wants, and be their own person.

You may come to find out that you’ll be less exhausted and more emotionally and physically available in the relationship.

If figuring out HOW to stop being so controlling, you may need to seek professional help.

A counselor can help you with diving deep to find the root cause of your behaviors and assist you in coming up with more appropriate and healthy behaviors and sometimes that is helpful.

Other times, you just have to recognize the areas of your behavior where you want to change and do it!

Whether your spouse confronted you on your controlling behaviors or you came to the realization on your own that things need to change, things can be fixed and the relationship can be healed.

Just knowing that this has become an issue is the first step as well as having open and non-judgmental communication about what is going on in the marriage.

Remember to be humble and vulnerable—it is okay that you have made mistakes in the past—but now you are going to take steps to mend your relationship and have a control-free marriage.

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