I’m Married to a Control Freak

One of the major causes of divorces is when one of the spouses is a “control freak” and refuses to repair the character defect. If you don’t know what that term means in your marriage, you are blessed.  

To explain, control freaks attempt to dictate how everything is done around them. They try to control people, situations, and outcomes. If you are married to one, you absolutely, unequivocally know how hard it can be to live with one.  Control freaks are the last to know who they are and find it even harder to own up to the fact that they are controlling. They believe that they are helping you with their dictatorial decision-making and constructive criticism; that the onus is on them (and them alone) to make sure things are done “right.” 

They are self-critical.  The criticism they can hurl at you often replicates the same abuse that they hurl at themselves. Under stress, this all gets worse.  Stress ramps up anxiety for most people; for those in control, with added stress comes added control in response—more rigidity, more frustration, and micro-management. 

Sadly, the ultimate result in a controlling relationship is a loss of self. One cannot thrive and grow in an atmosphere of command and control. One cannot feel safe to be who they are called to be when constantly controlled and criticized.  

While a marriage like this looks bleak, the non-controlling spouse can have a tremendous impact on a relationship. What impact can you have? If you refuse to participate in criticism, bickering and control, the dance must change. If you stop giving wasted threats in return for your spouse’s controlling behavior, you can disarm them.  If you develop firm, healthy boundaries for controlling spouses, they often learn how to treat you with greater respect. 

How does one deal with a controlling spouse? If this is a question that has been on your mind, then you have come to the right place. Controlling people are difficult to deal with in general but the problem becomes much more specific when your spouse wants to take over your life.  While there are people out there who are controlling because they are into power or feel entitled and expect the world to go their way, for most controlling people it’s often about anxiety. Control is a bad solution—but it's not the problem. Oftentimes, these people grew up in a home with a domineering parent, or chaotic environments, or with an anxious or abusive parent. As children, they could have been bullied, emotionally shut down, or abused in some manner.  To cope, many young budding control freaks retreated to silent rebellion or complicit behavior. 

What are the signs present when you are in a controlling marriage? Red flags are when your spouse: 

  • Makes you think everything is your fault
  • Criticizes you all the time
  • Challenges you when you want to see the people you love
  • Keeps score of what he or she perceives as your wrongdoings
  • Spies, snoops, and requires constant disclosure
  • Gaslights you
  • Underplays your experience by lying or accusing you of being overly sensitive
  • Tries to bully or intimidate you
  • Exerts excessive control 
  • Constantly acts superior and tries to undermine your reputation
  • Is moody
  • Doesn’t take “no” for an answer
  • Is unreasonably jealous 

Life comes with difficulties and challenges that no one escapes; sometimes you need to make choices. You have been with your spouse long enough to know that YOU CAN’T CHANGE THEM and they are not interested in being changed.  

You have choices in front of you, but you cannot allow them to paralyze you. You are living with a person who has hemmed you into a corner where you cannot do anything right. You are upset a lot (which is a logical response under the circumstances) but are unwilling to do anything about it (which is an unhealthy response).   

If you want the freedom to act on your own will, you will need to stand up to your spouse. You may even need to leave him or her temporarily or even permanently, depending on the severity of your situation.  Should you decide to make changes for your safety and to disarm their control over you, please know that your spouse is not likely to support any of your efforts to have increased autonomy.  Rather, they will probably view you as treasonous.  

You have very tough choices to make; remember that inaction is also a choice. At the end of the day, you will need to choose a path that you can live with most comfortably.  

Finally, if you plan to remain in relationship with your spouse for a child’s sake, make sure you set boundaries on them controlling you through your child.  

If you have already left your spouse but plan to work things out, I suggest you insist on couples counseling or coaching. You both need to be accountable to someone for learning new skills, including taking responsibility for actions. 

If you would like to learn more about recognizing these patterns of controlling behavior or if you would like to talk to a professional, here is our contact information. Please call us. We want to journey with you:  832-856-0805; info@justuslimited.com.

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