If you're concerned about your controlling behavior toward your spouse, you might feel angry at yourself and confused about what steps you need to take to stop it. While you likely have the best of intentions, perhaps you notice that you exhibit this controlling behavior repeatedly in various situations. That's because it's often difficult to stop a pattern of behavior once it begins, especially if there are valid reasons why you started behaving that way in the first place. For example, if you started handling all the household chores and bills because your spouse was busy finishing his degree, it might feel natural to continue managing the household once he is no longer in school. However, learning to let go of control is essential for your spouse's happiness and for the health of your marriage.
Take responsibility. Before anything else, you must recognize your controlling behavior and own it. A controlling spouse is likely to sulk when he doesn't get his way, and never admits fault, according to Mary Jo Fay, a relationship counselor in Denver, Colorado. Don't try to pass the blame for your behavior onto your spouse, take a step back and recognize you are responsible for your own behavior. Once you begin to recognize that what you are doing is not acceptable, you can begin letting go of control.
Prioritize your relationship. Instead of insisting that everything is in perfect order, focus on enjoying a more fulfilling relationship with your spouse, even if you're house is a bit messy or you have bills that you have to pay. You must realize that perfectionism is actually an imperfection, notes to Dr. Phil McGraw, a mental health professional and talk show host. Being a "control freak" will most likely drive your spouse away. Instead of needing to organize your environment, make the connection you have with your spouse more important.
Become flexible. Adopting more flexible standards for your life is one way to stop being such a controlling spouse. If you struggle to let go, you most likely have an idea in your head that everything in life should be a specific way. A controlling spouse moralizes his vision for how things "should" be, notes David Hawkins, counselor and author of "Love Lost: Living Beyond a Broken Marriage." Let go of your preconceived notions of how and when you have to do things. For example, if you insist on having the table cleared and the dishes washed immediately after dinner, try sitting down with a cup of coffee one night instead. Enjoy the time with your spouse, reminding yourself that the dishes can wait until after you take some time to connect with the one you love.
Hold yourself accountable. Request that your spouse remind you when you are practicing controlling behavior. You are most likely unaware of every single time you are controlling, so having your spouse point this out will give you a better perspective on what areas still need work. Make sure you do not become angry at your loved one when she tells you that you're are acting in a controlling manner. Instead, stop for a second and analyze your behavior, being careful to recognize how you can let go of the control and enjoy a better marriage.
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- Be patient with yourself as you learn to stop your controlling behavior. Realize that it will take some time and effort to put an end to your controlling behavior patterns.
Kristen Moutria has a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Evangel University. She is currently pursuing her Master of Arts in education from the University of Nebraska.