6 Signs You Might Be A Control Freak In Your Marriage

Have you ever been told that you’re a controlling person? Has your spouse told you?

Chances are, your first reaction was to deny the allegation. How could they say such a thing? Why would they say it? If your spouse has expressed something similar, it’s important to take a deep dive into your behavior patterns–something that can tell so much about your emotional state.

People who are controlling are often riddled with anxiety. To cope with their unwanted feelings, they attempt to control too much, too often. If you reflect on the controlling people you’ve known in your lifetime, chances are you can recall some anxious habits and behaviors of theirs, too.

Controlling people leap before they look. They’re in a hurry to get everything in their world under control as quickly as possible. Usually this is because they are afraid of feeling out of control, or because they’re attempting to avoid losing what little control they do have. They believe they can’t be happy or content until their lives look a certain way.

Anxiety-fueled, controlling behaviors manifest in a number of different ways. Today, we’re going to talk about six signs that you might be a control freak in your marriage.

1. You’re constantly running “what-if” scenarios through your head.

Controlling people tend to get obsessed with solving a problem that hasn’t even occurred yet or may never occur at all. They make up scenarios in their minds that trigger anxiety and fear, resulting in an attempt to control the nonexistent situation and to prevent all possibilities of that situation unfolding.

2. You’re overly focused on the future–to the detriment of today.

Controllers try to micromanage their lives in order to alleviate anxiety about the future. They tend to believe that their life will really begin once they hit a certain milestone, like getting married, purchasing their first home, landing their dream job, or having a baby. While there’s no harm in dreaming of the future, control freaks put their contentment on hold while they wait–and agonize in the meantime.

3. You tend to overreact.

Control freaks often overreact to unexpected events or changes in their schedule. They like to keep things the way they are, thanks very much, and any deviation from the expected rhythm of the day really throws them off. If seemingly small daily hiccups trigger an overblown reaction, you might be a control freak.

4. You speak negatively to yourself.

Controlling people tend to be incredibly unkind to themselves. They hold themselves to a high standard, and engage in negative self-talk (“You’ve gained two pounds, and you’re eating a donut? What a loser,” or, “You really messed this project up.”) They tend to punish themselves they haven’t completed every item on their to-do list, or if the project wasn’t done to their exact specifications. They tend to be taskmasters, and they get hung up on being a perfectionist.

5. You’re always racing to get in control of your jam-packed schedule.

People with controlling tendencies try to pack more to-do items into a day than a human could possibly accomplish. Overpacking your schedule is a product of anxiety…but it also generates extreme anxiety. If you constantly saddle yourself with unending deadlines, demands, and pressures, it’s possible that you could be a control freak.

6. You freak out when things don’t go as planned.

Loss of control over a situation yields extreme emotional distress for control freaks. In those moments, they tend to do and say things that can damage their relationships.

Do any of these sound familiar? If so, what should you do next?

Next week, we’ll cover more ways to identify controlling tendencies in yourself…and how you can start course-correcting for a healthier marriage.

Want even more? My (Les’s) book, The Control Freak, will give you deeper insights into controlling behaviors, how to identify them in yourself and others, and what to do about them moving forward.

Are you a controlling person? How do your controlling habits manifest themselves in your marriage? Are you able to curb your tendency to control? We’d love to hear more from you in the comments!


  • Michelle says:

    It’s so interesting to me that every word of this describes me, however, my husband is the one in our marriage that I see as the controlling one. We’re both very different and completely opposite…and I’ve always considered him the control freak in our marriage because he controls all decisions…what he says goes…I do have the opportunity to give my opinion, but don’t always speak up…I have most of those conversations in my head. Looks like I need to get a copy of this book…looking forward to the next post…thank you!

    • Pat says:

      Sounds like codependence to me. Take it from one who knows. This cycle is able to be stopped. You CAN learn to speak your mind, take up space and be an adult participant in your marriage. I lost my voice for 30 years and that was due to my insecurity and low self esteem. Now I speak up and let all of the thoughts and feelings out of my head. I’m not perfect but I don’t have to be. I am now a full partner in my marriage, I take up space and am heard. Please don’t wait 30 years like me.

    • Tasya says:

      Same as my husband , he always put some reason on his mouth without know what the exactly happen and putting me the wrong from something what l done without he knows the reason why he directed to control of reason what he think additional he will doing something what he want and decisions by him self

  • Peach Knaut says:

    I am much happier now that the Lord showed me that control freaks do so out of fear, & I use to oblige out of fear of the loss of not doing what my ex told me what to do. He said jump, I said how high! Yes, you may say that’s pretty demeaning, but I thought I was being obedient to the Word of, “Wives submit to your husbands.” He was always so angry & I didn’t know why. I was always afraid of him being angry & now I know the devil prowls like a roaring lion, ready to devour marriages. It’s like there were demonic tag teams in our marriage, because of my biggest most insulting original sin, the dirty thinking that the Lord has cleaned up in my mind now, that I did not believe that the Lord God Jesus loved me. I am sure my former husband didn’t believe that also. Now that the Holy Spirit is talking more to me, blessing me with understanding, Jesus having stolen my pain, healed my brain, for His Glory Reign, Forever Our Gain!, I pray more, trying to submit every thought captive, to the obedience of Christ, the obedience of love, to pray without ceasing, being like a little child & asking Papa God so many questions, being still, & knowing He is God because of that peace and that joy and feeling so loved now, my heart is overflowing that I want every single person to know Our Lord. So Please pray that I will get the opportunity to tell what I’ve learned, & praise God for the Parrotts & Symbis to teach us about how to express the Lord’s love in marriages throughout the world!

  • GREGORY COOK says:

    Appreciate the focus and words; thankful the LORD/HOLY SPIRIT has helped me remove, reduce and reconfigure.
    #1 is still very much a part of life; however, I feel this provides good foundation for long term decision making as well as being prepared for “immediate action” scenarios. Fortunately my “if then” is NOT creating non-existent issues or problems …. or worry.
    #2 LORD is continuing to tilt the scales toward living in the moment/today. Yes, I still struggle w/micromanagement of several areas.
    #3 Praise Him….I do not. Being a problem solver by nature and GOD gifted to serve; my tendency is to quickly assess and get busy.
    #4 Yes my bar is set high; however, my speak to others and me is encouragement and positive.
    #5 I do calendar (even notes) but prefer to cal this ” being organized”. 😉 Anxiety level can run high periodically, especially this time of year.
    #6 Nope….70 years experience has taught the futility of doing so.
    GOD Bless

  • Tim Sterzinger says:

    Didn’t realized that I’m 5 out of 6. It isn’t easy letting go of things that I can’t control. Not good for blood pressure. can’t wait to read next week blog

  • James says:

    There are underlying pathologies that may also exhibit some, or all, of these tendencies too. Specifically people on the autistic spectrum (ASD) can exhibit these behaviours, but out of completely different motivations. If you’re reading this blog post, and have an ASD diagnosis, take heart! ASD coping mechanisms can be managed, and you *can* have a fulfilling, meaningful, joyous marriage; my wife and I are proof (albeit a data point of ‘1’). Autism is not a life sentence of loneliness, and some of the innate tendencies of people on the ASD spectrum can lead to amazing successes in both business and personal lives, provided those tendencies are managed and channelled effectively.

  • HenryH says:

    Wife notices everything I do and comments about it, how I could have done it better, or prefers certain routes over others & challenges me on why didn’t I go that way.
    So I’ve learned it is just expressions to have a voice… to be heard and accounted for… she feels invisible therefore is always affecting things to be part of things. If I do something successfully (but not her way) then she feels out if control. Again this stems from insecurity and is internal to her.
    Is it called nagging? Henpecking? Bossy? Does not matter to me as I am secure and just try to roll with it, it’s water off a duck’s back.

    • JoeDelaware says:

      That sounds exactly like overcontrolling behavior. I grew up with a parent that did those things under the disguise of “caring”. But (took years to figure out), “caring” and support is accepting others decisions, and helping if they ask…not stepping in before and making up their mind for them, how can you learn anything that way? They truly believe that they are helping you by dictating what you should do. Think of learning to ride a bike, and instead of a push at the beginning to help start, they never let go of the seat and run behind holding it the whole time. You probably wont fall, but you will never learn to balance. The other sign is – are you always left confused because nothing ever makes sense, they will do the exact things that are considered out of line…but have an excuse for “why” every time.

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