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!