Beliefnet
How Great Thou Part

A relationship should not involve excessive control but unfortunately many do. This type of partnership can be oppressive.

A controlling spouse is not interested in a fair union. They are concerned with controlling their significant other. They do not believe that a relationship is a melding of two individuals. They believe it is seeing the world through their rules and perspective.
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Initially, some controlling relationships appear to work because the controlled individual is comfortable in this role. Perhaps they were raised by a controlling parent, are a people pleaser, a fixer, etc. However, over time, even a pleaser, a fixer or laid back individual may tire of the stress and demands involved in being controlled by their spouse.

How do you conquer a controlling relationship?

1. Acknowledge That You Have Allowed This to Happen:

When you are controlled by another person you can feel powerless. You may also feel frustrated, stressed, managed, nagged and even bullied.

The truth? The controlling person is who they are. However, you made the decision to allow them to control you. You are not powerless. You have simply given your power away to someone else.

This should be empowering. No one can control you unless you consciously make a decision to let them.

2. Don’t Speak…Act Instead:

Now that you have acknowledged being controlled take your power back with actions not words. A controlling individual is not likely to respect conversational boundaries and discussions. Remember…they are used to being in control. Hence, a declaration of what you will now accept or not accept will prove fruitless.

Instead, gradually take your power back by self-protecting and setting personal boundaries. If your spouse refuses to go somewhere with you then go alone. If they demand that you continually go somewhere you prefer not to then stop attending that function. Make small independent changes that are not defiant declarations but a restoration of yourself.

If you make your new actions seem confrontational it will be counter-productive. This is not about proving to the controlling spouse they can no longer control you. That will just make them dig in deeper. It is about accepting that you allowed this person to control you so you have nothing to prove to them just a dedication to enriching your own happiness.

3. Accept That This Could Backfire:

If you are in a controlling relationship and you change the rules it will either go in one direction or another. Your spouse could embrace the new you or they could reject it.

It honestly depends on the person and the level of control they are used to. If your spouse is mildly controlling, they may be intrigued by your new level of boundaries and independence. If your spouse is overly controlling, chances are they may reject this change. Why? The controlling relationship worked for them. They were used to getting their way and running the entire relationship.

It is a price that many are willing to pay in order to not be controlled by another individual anymore.
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4. Stop Caring So Much:

If you are someone who is in a controlling relationship, chances are you care too much. You are the type of individual who worries more about another person’s happiness than your own. Or you care so much about avoiding conflict that you will do anything necessary to avoid it. Hence, it’s easier to let the controlling individual have their way.

Some controlling relationships are not just overtly controlling, i.e., you must do this or that. Some controlling relationships involve enablers. An enabler will allow an individual to control them because they are afraid if they don’t give in there will be a less than desirable result. Example: I have to make sure this person takes good care of themselves or they may not do it themselves.

Enablers have to let go and let the chips fall where they may. They have to stop caring because the more they care the more the person who is not self-responsible, makes the enabler overly responsible for them and controls them.

It’s extremely difficult for a caring person to stop caring. The best way to achieve this is to focus on yourself and put distance between that person’s day to day activities and schedule. Out of sight is out of mind for a caring person and it may be necessary to break the enabling and controlling pattern.
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5. Break the Controlling Cycle:

Remember that you are the one who allowed the control which means it is something you are familiar with. This means that you must be diligently self-aware and not fall back into old patterns.

Make a checklist of what is making you feel controlled so that you have indicators to remind you to stay on track. Label the list ‘Trigger’ and ‘Warning Signs.’

For instance, if your spouse controls you because you hate conflict:

Trigger: Your control trigger is avoiding conflict.

Warning Sign: You begin to feel stressed that your spouse will be angry.

Controlled Spouse: Does whatever their spouse wants to avoid them being mad at them.

Non-Controlled Spouse: Recognizes Warning Sign and how it’s not healthy to allow another person to control you by fearing their anger and ignores the anger and the need to fix it.

Another example:

Your are an enabler and being controlled by worry for your spouse:

Trigger: Your control trigger is worrying that if you don’t rescue this person something bad will happen.

Warning Sign: You must suddenly stop everything to run and fix something for them. Or it could be that you are up all night worrying that they are out. It’s excessive worry for another person who is not being responsible for themselves.

Controlled Spouse: Runs to the rescue to fix everything so that there is no consequence for the spouse who is not behaving self-responsibly as an adult.

Non-Controlled Spouse: Recognizes that excessive worrying about another adult indicates their spouse needs to accept responsibility for themselves. They need to separate enough that they are not in a constant position to feel the need to rescue their spouse.

It is important to remember that a controlling relationship is not healthy. One person thrives in control while the other person simply survives the control. A controlling spouse strips their significant other of their individuality and happiness.

Recognize that it is your choice to be controlled and start the hard work of reversing years of habits to achieve a mutually beneficial relationship.

(Pictures courtesy of Pexels)
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