Being a control freak in your marriage–or in your life, in general–means you don’t exactly make life easy for your spouse. That probably seems counterintuitive, doesn’t it?
We control because we want to make life feel easier, more predictable, or more secure. But it actually makes the people around us miserable–and it makes us miserable, too.
In last week’s post, we discussed the root of most controlling behavior–anxiety–and shared 6 signs that you might be a control freak. This week, we’re going to talk about 10 things you can do about it.
1. Learn how to delegate.
Delegating is tough for a control freak. We tend to think no one can do a job as well as we can–so we don’t even try to hand things off. But our workloads and obligations can quickly become an avalanche, and we find ourselves scrambling to regain some semblance of control amidst the chaos.
It’s important to understand that you don’t have to do everything alone. Learn to get comfortable with deferring to others, and even allowing others to lead from time to time.
2. Curb criticism.
Control freaks tend to think their way of doing things is the best way, and we can be highly critical when our spouse’s job (like folding laundry or mowing the lawn) doesn’t meet our expectations. Instead, check your expectations at the door, learn to curb criticism, and allow your spouse’s efforts to make you happy.
3. Consider others’ opinions.
When a control freak sets their opinion, they don’t want to budge. If we’re in a disagreement with our spouse, we’re obsessed with proving we’re right. That can blind us to our spouse’s point of view.
If you want to let go of control, try considering your spouse’s opinion more often. Acknowledge that your stance may not be the only right one.
4. Stop being pushy.
Pushy behavior is a control tactic we sometimes use to pressure our spouses into doing what we want, in our time frame. If you want to let go of control, let up on the pressure. Besides, your spouse will be more likely to go along with your ideas if you go along with some of theirs.
5. Loosen up on your schedule.
As control freaks, many of us schedule everything ahead of time, down to the detail. Our days are carefully structured, and we live and die by the calendar. And if something disrupts our carefully-laid plans, we overreact.
Letting go of control means loosening up on your schedule. Don’t rush your spouse, and learn to build more margin into your days to allow for the unexpected.
6. Learn to be more patient with others.
Everyone struggles with impatience from time to time, but control freaks have it down to an art. It’s important that we learn to be more patient with the people around us, especially our spouses, children, and families. Becoming a patient person will work wonders in all your relationships and make your life more satisfying overall.
7. Find ways to reduce your anxiety levels.
It’s difficult for a control freak to relax and take some downtime. We often find ourselves feeling guilty if we’re not “doing something productive” during every waking hour. If you tend to feel like you’ve wasted precious time you could have used to get more done, slow down. Learn how to relax. Your spouse will thank you!
8. Learn to go with the flow.
When someone or something disrupts the expected order of things, it’s not worth it to overreact. If events don’t go your way or if a person doesn’t do things the way you think they should, learn how to go with the flow. You’d be surprised how much stress relief you’ll experience once you let go.
9. Drop the perfectionism.
Control freaks often struggle with perfectionism to a fault. Some perfectionists report becoming so consumed by perfecting a project or endeavor that they lose sleep over it. It’s crucial to understand that trying to make everything flawless causes stress and anxiety. Alleviate it by learning to be satisfied with something that is complete and good, rather than perfect.
10. Count your blessings.
Every day, take some time to think about all the things you’re thankful for. Even better, tell your spouse all the ways you’re thankful for them. Remembering all the wonderful things in your life is a great way to re-center yourself when you’re feeling anxious and can help you keep day-to-day life in perspective.
If you find that you’re struggling with controlling tendencies, it’s important to address your underlying anxiety. If your anxiety is intense, chronic, or feels out of control, you may need to seek professional help from a licensed counselor or health practitioner.
My (Les’s) book, The Control Freak, takes a deep dive into the dynamics of controlling personalities. It contains many more tips for how to reign in your controlling behavior, so pick up your own copy to learn more.
How have you learned to overcome the urge to control? We would love to hear from you in the comments section.