As part of the You Get What You Ask For Series, you all asked me to write about control issues. I’ve been putting this off for quite a while because control issues are somewhat out of my experience. My husband and I are both incredibly independent people. The most controlling things I do are insist he wears his bike helmet and avoid really dangerous types of cycling (like downhill mountain biking) until our daughter grows up.
I’m trying to think of a single instance when my husband tried to control me, but I just can’t.
So I’m going to take a wild stab at this topic. I encourage all of you to comment away and let me know if you think I’m on track or on crack. (Hey, that rhymes!)
I believe control issues stem from a few factors.
- A lack of trust in each other. My husband doesn’t meddle in most of my affairs because he trusts me to make good decisions. I trust him, too. This isn’t to say that we don’t occasionally ask for or offer each other advise. It’s only to say that we both acknowledge that we are separate beings who both have brains, points of view, values, and good ideas. If you think your spouse’s control issues stem from a lack of trust, ask for a trial experiment. For two weeks, your spouse will trust you to make your own decisions. At the end of two weeks, see if the world has come to an end. If it hasn’t, ask for a few more weeks.
- A lack of trust in the inherent goodness of all things. Many control issues come from the feeling of being out of control and the worry that terrible things will happen as a result. The problem with this, though, is that most of the things that we try to control are really not within our control anyway. And no matter what we may or may not do, unfortunate events will occur from time to time. No one gets out of this lifetime without suffering a little bit of hardship. Part of the reason I trust my husband to make his own decisions is because I trust him to be strong enough to deal with the ramifications of his decisions—whether they be good or bad.
- Low self esteem. Some people control others because it’s the only way they know how to feel loved. If they tell you to do something and you bend to their will, they think, “Oh, she really loves me.” This is, of course, dysfunctional, but it helps to understand the mentality. If you think your spouse controls because of self esteem issues, talk about other ways you can show your love.
- Dominance issues. Some spouses use control as a means of gaining the upper hand and dominating the other person. This type of control may start off as what seems like harmless jealousy. It’s usually not harmless. This is dangerous and usually leads to verbal and physical abuse. I’m not sure if there’s a solution to this type of control issue other than this one: run for your life. Thoughts?
As I mentioned, I’d love to hear thoughts from others. Do you have control issues in your marriage? If so, how do you deal with them?
A professional journalist, Alisa Bowman is the author of Project: Happily Ever After, a memoir of how she saved her marriage, and coauthor of Pitch Perfect, a must-read if you've ever had a sense of dread tie up your insides before a speech, presentation, or conversation. If you enjoyed this post, you will no doubt love her updates on Facebook and Twitter.