How to Stop Controlling Your Spouse

Why do we try to stay in control?

Often, when we’re trying to control others (in this case, our spouse), we’re acting out of fear. Perhaps it’s fear of the unknown, or just the simple fear of not getting something that we deeply desire. Whatever the case, the primary motivating factor in controlling behavior is often fear.

Fear itself can have many different triggers. If you’ve been betrayed by your spouse in the past (in the case of infidelity–or any other breach of trust, for that matter), you might resort to control in order to alleviate your fear of further betrayal. If you’re fearful that you may not achieve certain outcomes in any given area of your life, you might attempt to stay in control of the people and circumstances around you.

Unfortunately, we’re often completely blind to the damage we’re doing when we try to control. This blindness occurs because all we can see is our own fear, and all we can feel is the overwhelming need to alleviate it.

Controlling behavior communicates lack of trust in your spouse and damages the intimacy in your marriage. It’s not likely that you want to do permanent damage to your relationship with your spouse–in fact, we assume that’s the last thing you want to do! But it’s absolutely critical for you to stop controlling your spouse now, and get your marriage on the road to a healthier dynamic.

In today’s blog, we’ll discuss three steps you can take to stop controlling your spouse.

  1. Stop allowing your fear to control you.

You may be trying to control your spouse because fear has its claws in you. In order to loosen fear’s grip on your life, you have to acknowledge that it has been in charge of you instead of God.

Realizing that you’ve made fear an idol in your life could be a major wake-up call, and just the jolt you need to refocus your energy and bring your attention back to God. Isaiah 41:10 says, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Digging into scripture and reaching out to God through prayer are major steps you can take toward letting go of your fears. Right now, it may feel like your security lies in being afraid, so leaning into your fear can make you feel powerful. Controlling the people around you can make you feel powerful, too. But it’s ultimately destructive, because your controlling behavior instills a fear of you in them. Control has no place in marriage, and fear should never govern your existence–or anyone else’s.

Instead of trusting in your own ability to create the outcomes you desire, realize that your trust should be in the Creator. “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you,” says the psalmist in Psalm 56:3.

  1. Make peace with your spouse’s differences and shortcomings.

Sometimes we attempt to control our spouses because we have taken stock of their differences and perceived shortcomings, and have resolved that we can do a better job than they can in those areas of life. This can lead us to attempt to “help them do better”–which is often just control masquerading as assistance.

If you find yourself constantly intervening in whatever your spouse is doing in order to express a better way to do it, or to critique their methods, take a step back and think before you say anything. Is this something that is truly going to impact your life, or do the two of you just prefer different approaches? Is one way more comfortable for him than it is for you?

As long as the end result isn’t truly going to harm either of you, there’s no reason to fret if your spouse takes a different route as you to reach the same destination. This is unnecessary stress that you can let go. And the more stress you can release, the less likely you are to feel as if you need to stay in control.

Your spouse is a capable, mature adult whom you love and chose to marry. Remember how much you love them, and choose to let go of the urge to correct every move they make.

  1. Own what is yours; let go of the rest.

When you slow down and consider how few things you really have any control over in life, it is tremendously humbling. As you relinquish your fears and let go of your focus on your spouse’s weaknesses, you’ll be able to more clearly discern what areas of your life you have no business trying to control.

Taking ownership of the parts of your life you can and should control is healthy–things like your career, your fitness, your spiritual life, and similar areas. But outside of the areas that belong solely to you, you must let go.

Conclusion

Controlling behavior tells the people closest to you that they are only objects to be used. It tells your spouse that you don’t respect or truly love him or her. And it could even communicate to your children that they exist for your whims and your happiness.

Fear fuels controlling behavior, but controlling behavior also produces fear. It’s a vicious cycle that’s difficult to break once it has begun–but it can be done. Relinquishing the urge to control your spouse will pay huge dividends in your marriage.

Have you dealt with unhealthy controlling behavior in your marriage? Did you act as the controller, or were you being controlled? How did you and your spouse overcome it, and what impact has it had on your relationship? We’ve love to hear from you in the comments!

BelievingBP-02

 

66 Comments

  • Keith says:

    I have a fear of Intimacy and of life itself. My fears of abandonment issues play a big part in our marriage. My wife tells me that I keep myself separate from her so I can ( stay ) in control.

    • Lisa Mack says:

      Signs of an Avoider. There is help on the way! Read the life changing book “How We Love” by Milan and Kay Yetkovitch. Also comes in a DVD study kit. Our small group found it very useful.

    • The fear of intimacy stems from the fear of abandonment. Somewhere in the early stages of building our self-esteem,how we view the world,and how we fit in with people if our self worth is severely damaged by someone such as a parent or guardian,it becomes in itself a form of abandonment because ” we were never good enough” and the lack of love from that parent only solidifies the growing and deepening sence of low self worth. We crave that deep love we never had,but at the same time,we are terrified of embrassing it because it means that same love could be snatched away. That brings back those deep seated,horrible feelings of being alone and not worthy. To keep this from happening ,we hold onto the love we have at the moment ,but keep it at an arms length. It’s our way of trying to control a situation we have no control over to feel “safe” Bottom line…It takes a required effort to let go of past messages we have fed ourselves for so long and building a trust inside ourselves that says we are good enough to be loved. The rest will take care of itself.

      • Jason says:

        Wow, thank you so much for writing this. Really helps shed some much needed light. Are these your original words or have you read on that matter? If you have a title that explores this further, please share. Thanks again

    • Crystal says:

      Hey Keith how are things going? What have you done to try and work on this? I have the same problem in my marriage right now. My husband tells me I’m too controlling. He doesn’t want to me intimate as a result.

  • Donna says:

    Sometimes people can’t just break away from fear or control without help. Those behaviours meet a real need – although not in a healthy way. We’ve found Bethel’s Sozo prayer ministry to be enormously helpful because fear is one the areas the tools specifically deal with. There are trained ministry teams all over the world. bethelsozo.com

    • Stephanie Allisany says:

      Thank you. I feel God has brought me to your comment as a response to my prayer to stop contradicting my fiancé. All of what Michael Saporita said is 100% true of me. I was raised by a woman whose ambitions were stunted so she took out her need to “win” and her need to be right out on me her daughter.

      I recently realized that I have been fooling myself into thinking I was a atheist even though I prayed regularly to Meher Baba since I was 17. It’s so ridiculous.

      I feel I need to connect with God and I do need help so thank you so much!

  • Pastor Claudio Priolo says:

    The need to Control can also be caused by the simple fact that we were raised with certain experiences and thus developed habits based on those experiences. The idea that something can be done or accomplished a different way from how we grew up creates anxiety and stress in those who struggle with control. If we make the choice to live by Philippians 2:3-4 we can overcome this challenge. I encourage those who struggle with control and want to experience the freedom received from releasing control to ask themselves this question when they face a temptation to control; ” is this issue I am trying to control a hill worth dieing on”? If not let it go and celebrate the freedom!!

  • Michael Van Dyke says:

    I have learned that trying to control my spouse is in a word is impossible. I have also learned that I am not supposed to. The only one I can control or if you will change is me. I learned a long time ago trying to change someone else is like trying to steer a ship without a rudder. Don’t even try it because you will get to experience what futility is. I was then given the patience I needed to accept my spouse’s as she is.

  • Lynn says:

    My husband is an isolationist and a lonelier. This is his happy place. We’ve been married nearly 40 years and he told me that he should have never married as he is very content being alone. He has nothing to share with me. He is also an avoider and cannot stand conflict. He actually has a physical reaction to the mention of the word “conflict.” He has no desire to change.. He sees absolutely no need to even consider my needs. My heart has been in pain for a 4 years as I have worked to hard to get clarity on this. He says that he has been angry with me on thousands of fronts since we were first married. He said he never said anything because he took the ‘high road.” He always let me have my way and stuffed his pain. Now he is full of resentment and doesn’t like me and doesn’t care how I feel. He hates to see me hurt and says he’s sorry but that he is all about being who he is and who God created him to be. Is this a marriage? Any suggestions? I have apologized for his perceptions of me. I have humbled myself before him and he just doesn’t care. I seek God daily for strength and direction. Living in my home is the saddest place to be. I love my Lord, I love people and I love my husband. I’m not sure I can continue living in the daily pain of a loveless marriage. As I want MOST to honor my Lord, do you have any suggestions?

    • Carol says:

      My husband and I are marriage mentors at our church and my heart goes out to the both of you! I am hoping that you have sought out a trusted, Christian, professional counselor first of all? Secondly, two resources come to mind. Have you watched the movie Fireproof? If not, we recommend that YOU alone watch it. (There is a reason for just you watching it and it will become evident as you experience the movie.) Also please purchase the book Love Dare and commit to doing it! The movie and book go hand in hand. YOU ALONE can make a difference in your marriage!! The other book we would recommend is Love Must Be Tough by Dr. James Dobson. I pray that God will intervene in your marriage and guide you both into the marital relationship He has designed for you to experience together. May God bless you both! Phillipians 4:6-7

    • Lee P says:

      Hi I would get out.The lord will provide for you and bless you with someone who will truly love you 🙂

      • Kellen says:

        God hates divorce (Malachi 2:16). Even if you 🙂 about it.

        • Michelle Lankins says:

          Wow. If only I could write and expresstgese things as well as you have. I am going through the same situation. I could add my name to your testimony. I am going to read through the replies and hopefully be able to add more assistance. Thank you for being so open and sharing your story. If possible I would like to ask for further information that you may receive. Thank you and God bless.I agree with Kellen that God hates a divorce. The only scriptural provision is sex outside the marriage arrangement! 🙂

        • Jocelyne says:

          Malachi 2:16 does NOT say God hates divorce. The Hebrew will show otherwise. Women are basically made to suffer in silence because of such a misinterpretation. Listen… God loves people MORE than He does the institution of marriage… when it goes wrong, and it becomes destructive, it’s time to end the folly. God hates many things…. but that verse/passage is not what it is touted to be.

          • Faye says:

            Matthew 5:31-32

          • Faye says:

            and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’?
            “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate”
            – Matthew 19:5-6

          • Johannes says:

            You obviously are twisting scripture to suite yourself God hates divorce …period…Would you like God to divorce you when you sin so many times a day.Thats why he is not into divorce.

    • Angela says:

      I married my spouse unaware of how much pain and real damage their past held. Often personality traits were exasterbated because of these past hurts and experiences. When I acknowledged my hopeless attempts to “fix” my spouse and began to pray and ask God to show me where I was unaware of my part in the problem. It was a two year process of Gods refining me and filling me with His love. Relying on ONLY Him to meet my needs, I discovered I was never called to be happy in marriage. My job was to reflect Jesus alone. While an impossible task on my own, I committed to stay in the relationship as long as my spouse did not file for divorce. It was only then that I began to see small degrees of change in my spouse and my relationship.
      Sometimes our pain is a tool God uses to point us and those around us toward Him. I hope you find Gods purpose for you. Glorifying God through our circumstances is one of our best tools to witness of who our God truly is!
      I wish I could say it’s been easy, but that would be an outrageous lie. God is still pruning away my imperfections, and my spouses, but I no longer have the burden or concern for my spouses faults that distract me from my flaws. They have often remarked how they see changes in me and these past ten years, and I glory in the one who made them.
      While I would never condemn anyone for getting divorced ( I have seen need for separation like abuse), I strongly encourage you to find your identity and fulfillment in the one who created you, gave you a purpose, and has dreams for His beloved one! Are you the bride of Christ? Let your husband discover that for himself and love Him where He is just as Christ loved you. Desiring what is best for Your husband and not yourself. I empathize with you and admire you for reaching out for help in your situation. Only in the family of God is so much truth, vulnerability, encouragement, and love received and given freely!
      I have also found it important to be careful who you share your situation with. In my experience well meaning people can often steer you away from what the word of God has to say. I hope you two get a liscenced Christian counselor to encourage you in this new beginning for your relationship. The big question is are you are both willing to try?

    • Stephanie says:

      I don’t think he realizes that he is not being who God created him to be. God doesn’t want us to carry around a bunch of baggage but instead wants us to live a life of freedom by letting go and casting all our cares on Him. My husband is not living for the Lord; he says he no longer believes and acts like God is a fairytale. Please pray for him. I will Pray about your situation and your husband.
      Reading your story reminded me of mine. My husband has been super tired lately from working a lot and he seems grouchy a lot. Sometimes he just wants left alone and especially lately he has been throwing almost constant negative comments my way. He acts like I’m so lazy and threatens not to give me gas money or pay my cell phone bill. He says “shame on you” sometimes and I can’t stand it. It’s so annoying because I really do try but I get busy with the kids and I work part time and he just evidentially doesn’t get it because I don’t just sit around and do nothing all the time. I think both of our husbands have been blinded by the enemy because they are not really seeing or experiencing God’s best in their lives or in their marriages. Life will never be perfect but they need to have God’s love and joy and peace and compassion and understanding in their lives and for others. It seems like neither of our husbands have a desire to work for a good marriage let alone a great marriage. I think we just have to keep praying and holding onto our faith fighting the spiritual battle against the enemy because our husbands aren’t. God will make a way when there seems to be no way. He works in ways we cannot see. He will make a way for you and me and our marriages. Pray for his eyes to be opened and his heart to be as bread and not as stone. Speak life over him and your marriage and rebuke Satan cause he wants to kill your marriage, steal your marriage, and destroy your marriage. God bless you. Just keep hanging on. It may help to talk to a Christian counselor also.

  • Divorced before 30 says:

    Wow, this is powerful, I guess I now see that I controlled my husband. I would’ve told you at the time that I tried to help him be a stronger man, a more romantic man, and a more intimate man. I was afraid that he wouldn’t become all I needed him to be, who our children would need him to be, or even who God wanted him to be. I know I chased him away now. Even with all my great intensions, I pushed him further from the beautiful things I had to offer because he only saw correction and critique. I regret not understanding I was being led by my fears. I could’ve made a difference by being the best me, and just accepting him for him. I left, and he never came to get me. Why would he? Who wants to be corrected all day? Right? I pray I get this right so I can be better next time!

    • Michelle Lankins says:

      Your comment is wonderful and it shows that you have humbled yourself. Thank you for sharing this. I was in a similiar situation and divorced. Other issues were involved but I feel they were magnified by my feats, my controlling behavior. We remarried, as he is very loving and forgiving, although extremely masculinein ALL areas. (Kind of overwhelming but it is what it is.) After a couple yeard into the remarriage I demanded a physical separation. Worst decision for me, I believe. Now we live about a mile away from each other and he seems somewhat at peace. I have trouble with this as I desire to have him in my life more.

  • A Good Wife says:

    I didn’t realize I was controlling until one day, out of the blue, my husband’s frustration and resentment bubbled over. Well it was unexpected for *me*, but he’d been dealing with mounting feelings of disrespect and distrust for quite a while due to my controlling behavior. You hit it on the head. I was making demands (being controlling) based on fear. I believed I was protecting our marriage from a “foreseeable” pitfall, but my method may have CAUSED just as much damage as I was trying to prevent.
    I prayed a lot. I sought God for answers.
    I discovered that I needed to relinquish the reins and hand it over to God if I wanted my relationship with my husband to improve.
    I apologized to him for my behavior. I lifted every restriction former-me demanded, and told him that I would trust and respect the way he choose to handle the issue at hand.
    There is nothing, a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y NOTHING easy about letting go. I’ve been a Christian most of my life, but managing my fears, giving this over to God, and completely releasing control has been a tremendous challenge. I’m a work in progress. Despite my struggle, I acknowledge that this was the best thing I could do for my husband whom I love him dearly.
    I live by Philippians 4:6-7
    6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

    • Relinquishin2016 says:

      Thank you for sharing, A Good Wife. So appreciate hearing how others have navigated this challenging switch from controlling to trusting.

    • Michelle Lankins says:

      Thank you. I am in similar situation except that I am still working on the issues. They had gotten out of hand. I will continue to rely completely on God and work to continue in letting go and work on my behaviors. Ty for sharing.

      • Matt says:

        Michelle you seem to be struggling. My testimony is that I was a very controlling husband. Then one day I realized I was losing her. I asked what’s wrong. She was cold and uncaring and said “nothing I can do anything about, I realize you’ll never change” I tried to argue with her and force her to hear me out, but she was resigned to living in a loveless marriage as she called it. That was a very confusing reaction from her. I didn’t understand and even thought she must be having an affair, she said no, but I wanted to. She seemed dead inside and happy on the outside. She was not fighting with me, wouldn’t argue anymore and no longer cared what I chose to do. If I wanted to be good to her she didn’t respond positively or if I was bad she didn’t respond negatively. She just acted like I was doing my own thing and she was doing hers. It woke me up. I read several books. I read seven love languages over and over including a special one just for men. Bottom line is that I realized I needed to only focus on making myself a better man and she might start to love and respect her man better. In every way. Beginning spirituality. Very soon she realized with great suspicion that something was different about me. I started asking her permission if I wanted her to go on a date with me. I never asked her to do anything for me unless I prefaced it with You don’t have to …and finished with… I can get it done later so please don’t feel like you have to do it. I was sincerely not expecting anything from her anymore. I felt I deserved nothing good from her. If she gave me anything it was truly special to me and I let her know. She was thanked often, praised for anything I could think of. She is a much better wife because I allowed Christ to humble me and then change me. But she gave up her pride first. She is the real hero. If the commitment is there and the desire to not give up then change starts with complete humility.

        • Michelle Lankins says:

          Thank you for your replying to my comment. You made very wise choices and have helped me to realize much. I hope to put the actions in place and maybe there will be favorable results.
          Time, consistency, regularity, patience, humility, commitment, .
          Thank you

        • Eric says:

          Hey Matt. Is there any way that you and I can connect?

        • Stephanie says:

          Wow! What an amazing Testimony! Thank you for sharing

        • Faye says:

          Wow. I believe America is really struggling with marriage these days…I know I needed to change and have seen a difference too. Glad to hear your good testimony.

  • Maria says:

    Thank you for this, talk about being convicted (but in a good way). When the Holy Spirit convicts me, it reminds me just how much my Lord and Savior loves me as He does not want me to stay where I am at. He wants me to work on things that are not pleasing to Him and/or hindering my walk and usefulness for His kingdom. Hi my name is Maria and I am guilty of trying to “control my spouse”. I believe there are several factors that create this in me in which all point to “fear”. My father was a functioning alcoholic, my first husband was a stumbling, physically abusive alcoholic, and the father of my younger children (who has majority custody) was emotionally abusive. I have shared with my husband that as an adult child of an alcoholic and once being married to an alcoholic it was important for me to control my environment as I had no control of it before. But as you mentioned, we never really have control of anything outside of ourselves. Also, you are correct in saying that when we try to control others, we are not trusting in God. I attempt to remind myself of what Sarai said, that she trusted God not Abram and I need to remind myself that God will direct my husband in all his ways. Also, I have to truly make peace with my spouses differences and shortcomings and allow him to get to the destination his way. When I perceive to know how to do better then him, I am being prideful; and what was satan’s downfall, pride. Thank you for this beautiful message, in which God spoke to me loud and clear. I will pray and fast for myself, to let go of my controlling nature once and for all and to accept my husband’s differences and shortcoming; giving everything to the Lord. God bless you!

    • Relinquishin2016 says:

      Love this, Maria. The need to try to control the environment you felt you had not control of as a child is blinding at times but I had never really thought about when we try to control others, we are not trusting in God. Insightful!

      • Jane says:

        Thank you Maria you could have written my biography…functioning alcoholic father, abusive first husband no wonder l have a fear of losing control. See so much fear …but praise God l am not its slave l am a child of God. Am seeking help for this! Thank you authors this is so timely God is good!

    • Michelle Lankins says:

      Ty for your beautiful comment as I feel encouraged to continue in these areas. Tyvm. I love hearing these personal comments, experiences.

  • Control Freak says:

    This one NAILED me. I’ve felt justified in my control because I’ve believed my fears were legitimate. Alcoholism is nothing to wink at and I’m paralyzed by fear with every sip he takes. And with that paralyzing fear – Satan wins. Praying and confessing today as I let go (something I’ll have to do every single day) and let God deal with this man that He loves more than I do. In the name of Jesus I rebuke the enemy that I have assisted in winning too many battles in my home.
    God help me trust You with the big things and help me love my husband like You do. Please heal the damage I may have done to his confidence and to the trust between us.

  • Relinquishin2016 says:

    This is an excellent follow-up to the devotional a couple of weeks ago “When Your Spouse Won’t Listen”. These seem very much connected in my house. I am struck by the statement “Fear fuels controlling behavior, but controlling behavior also produces fear”. I am struck by how daily I see this cycle repeated in our home, and did not realize it. More than fear of terrorism, fire or flooding, I absolutely fear not having enough money to get what we need and needing to ask someone for help. I would rather die in a hole somewhere than ask someone for 5 dollars. We are able-bodied and smart people; we can and should do everything in our power to provide for ourselves. Early in our marriage a business start-up turned to financial devastation – this went on for 6 miserable, lean, dark depressing years while I worked 70-80 hours a week days and nights at the hospital to keep us out of that situation EVER again. In the setting of having $.39 in our checking account, a bit of pocket change and only a half roll of toilet paper in the house, I purposed in my heart that I would NEVER be in that situation EVER again, come H or HW. Now that we have small children we are responsible for, I am even more determined that won’t happen. It seemed entirely avoidable in my eyes – fear and low self-worth drove the financial decisions that lead to the devastation . Finances were incredibly tight in my family growing up, and my husbands approach to finances and earning has seemed unambitious and timid; when I see body language and responsibility deferral that I mentally associate with that tendency, I go about psycho-crazy with fear inside and immediately feel the need to take BIG control which leads to him retreating further into the couch for longer and longer periods every evening. In this saferoom, I now realize that walls of complacency and fear have been built so high that I have wondered whether he could EVER get out. Wow. Had not connected fear/controlling/fear cycle dots until just now. I have worked incredibly hard and built a very successful career as a health care provider and small business owner, but am more and more feeling tired, worn out and resentful of the several hours a night he spends on the couch watching TV while home maintenance is deferred. Perhaps both of our fears have fueled my controlling behavior, and by reacting with more controlling behavior, I have in turn been handing him the wood and nails to build his own walls of fear higher and higher. He has indeed chosen to pick up the hammer and drive in the nails, but what’s a guy to do with an endless supply of “wood and nails” by my continuing to resort to controlling? Hmmmm. Sounds easy on paper. But definitely plausible and worth pursuing further. I love this man more than I can even express. He has incredible gifts that the rest of the world could benefit from. He is a loving man that loves me and our children with a mighty and tender love, but the cycle of fear and controlling has dominated our home far too long. I am going to endeavor to relinquish trying to control of what I have not been able to control anyway, lean into God, and dig into scripture. These are things I need to own and I have not tended to them. I need to learn to let go of the rest. Frankly, I have no idea how to do this. Might as well be saying “I am going to learn to speak Lithuanian” because I have about as much knowledge of where to begin living this out as I would learning to speak Lithuanian. However, I trust in the power of a loving God who can reorganize the infrastructure of my thoughts. Read, pray, relinquish – repeat. I don’t do vulnerable well, so this feels like stepping of a cliff to my spirit, but I will trust the scriptural GPS we have been given in our Holy Bible to guide me; admittedly I have not turned to this in the areas of marriage and finances so this must change. Thank you, Les and Leslie, for being sensitive to the Spirit. We needed this today.

    • Michelle Lankins says:

      Very nice comment!!! I too am working on the controlling behaviors. I understand the truth that has been expressed. Ty for your comment as I can add it in order to make the changes that I need to.

    • Ck says:

      Remember to give your self grace when you find your self stepping into old patterns. Learn, then try again. It takes practice. It does not happen over night.

  • Grace Hunt says:

    This is a great reminder in the busyness of my life when I begin perceiving a sense that life is spinning out of control. I have discerned the unhealthy habits of trying to control my husband and children’s behaviors by masking it with the premise that I’m tired of having to tell them over again that certain things need to be done a certain way. After reading your post, I realize it is just a way that I am trying to find stability when I am afraid I will drop all the balls I am juggling in life. The last thing I want is for my husband or children to think “that they are only objects to be used” or “that they exist for [my] whims and [my] happiness.” Yet, I can see how they would perceive my actions as such. They have even told me so, but the article stated it in such a succinct way, it convicts me to change my habits in order to avoid perpetuating my unhealthy fear in their impressionable lives. Finally, thank you for reminding us of the scripture, Isaiah 41:10, “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” It grounds me deeply in the truths that guide my life. #grateful #timely

  • Keptbygrace says:

    As a wife who discovered her husband’s emotional infidelity a few months ago, I have been struggling with fear of the unknown and fear that we might have a long road ahead of us with regards to me trusting him again. I want to control where he is, who he hangs with, etc. But thanks to the responses in this forum, I see that my trust lies only in one place- with God. Humans will fail us over and over again. SO when I am afraid, I will just turn to God:-) It is also humbling to come to the knowledge that there are few things, if any, that I can control in my life. I will appreciate responses from Les and Leslie to the soul-baring stories written in this forum.

  • Fearful but not without hope says:

    This is a tough issue for me, too. I think I do try to control my spouse out of fear, because of past infidelity. My husband has been doing well avoiding temptation, and I try to show him my appreciation, but he doesn’t want anyone else to know about the infidelity and so I am his main accountability partner. He has X3watch on his computer, and I get reports on what websites he is visiting, but I still get nervous when he is alone with his computer and I try to keep him from visiting sites that might be a temptation to him. I also try to control his interaction with female co-workers. Probably nothing will happen, but I keep trying to think of safeguards and boundaries because I don’t know if I could handle it again if it did happen. I trust that God will provide a way of escape, if he is faced with temptation, but I don’t think God will override his freedom of choice if he decides to indulge himself again.
    I trust God to work in our lives, individually and as a couple, but I don’t think it is possible to trust God to keep someone else from sin. At least, He didn’t do that for 28 years. I don’t want to be ruled by fear, but I really don’t know how to control it.

  • Lee P says:

    My Ex Wife is like this. We finally ended up Divorced probably the worse and sadist day of my life. I still love her very much and miss her. We are talking again and doing things together. I’m praying we can reunite our hearts and souls again. Please anyone out there please change for your spouse and marriage don’t go threw the heart ack I have

    • Michelle Lankins says:

      I will include your situation in my thoughts and prayers. My husband and I were divorced for seven and a half years. Remarried. Issues arise again. We are separated but temain as close as possible. We now live a mile away from each other and work towards a better future. Please pray for our situation as I pray we can live together and be united.

  • Emily says:

    I had no idea I was in any way controlling until this moment. I have been trying to “fix” my fiancé. I also didn’t realize it all stems from fear. I cannot nag him into reading the bible more, or seeking Christian male friends, or managing his stress better. I cannot fix his workaholism. I have to accept him just as he is. I need to celebrate the wonderful man that he is, encourage him, support him and focus on the things I love about him. I sit here reading everyone’s story and tears fill my eyes because I know the pain and the struggle that comes with being driven by fear and worry. With out realizing it I am letting Satan control me and damage my relationship. No. More. Thank you a thousand times for sharing your stories and for sending me this email. Definition of trust: 1.) reliance on ability, integrity or strength of a person 2.) confident expectation of something, hope. Let us all rely on the strength, ability and integrity of the Lord! Let us be confident of what he can do and provide for us. Let us be hopeful!

  • We all need to be leaning on the Lord, but He puts us in communities. We all need healthy friends and Spiritual directors or mentors in our lives. People of integrity that we can trust with our problems. I have found this to be true in my life and marriage. I have a testimony of God’s faithfulness to bring me through the pain to the other side. I am able to be “real” now and open and vulnerable with a few trusted friends.

  • Tim says:

    Sounds like we have reached a liberal reinterpretation of a 2 shall become 1, God centered marriage.
    Whenever you instruct one to “let go” of the unwanted behaviors of the other in the context of marriage or a committed relationship, you are in fact, giving tacit control to the offending party…
    Is that what God had in mind for us???

    • Still Recovering says:

      Yes. There is a very fine line between surrendering your marriage and spouse to God, and still holding them accountable after infidelity and abusive behaviors of the past.

    • Angela says:

      If you are really 2 who have become 1 in the lord you are supposed to be on the same team. It’s not about tactical control. Boundaries are important for any relationship, but other-controlled is not one of the fruits of the Spirit. I admit it is part of my natural tendencies, but with Gods help I am learning to give Him COMPLETE control.

  • val says:

    I teach those I am with how to treat me. When I control, it often creates insecurity and fear in others and when others control me and I allow it, I am teaching them how to treat me.

  • AB says:

    I have a great deal of fear that started a few years ago. I have been married for over 25 yrs and its wonderful. But things changed, due to work, mid-life crises, or something and I got scared. I started to research why my husband was changing and then I started to worry that he wanted someone else. My fear took over and I became controlling, anxious, and fight with him. I even accused him of cheating where there was not one piece of evidence of it. But I knew something is not right and he was changing.
    I wish I would have just went with the flow and put the trust in the lord. I know think that it was just another turn in life and we all change as we age. But I have this fear that is stuck inside me that I can’t let go. I am hurting myself, my husband, and our marriage.

    Please advice – how do I just stop and relax and enjoy life.

  • KT says:

    My wife and I are on the verge of divorce. She has been telling me for some time that I am controlling and she feels like I am her boss. I don’t intend to treat her that way and have been trying very hard to figure out the roots of my problems. I want to let go of my control, but feel like I need to fight for my marriage which in turn makes me want to control the situation. How do I fight for my wife and my marriage when she is ready to serve me divorce papers without completely giving up? I don’t want to lose her, and part of that is because of the fear I feel of being alone and not having a spouse. I want a partner, not an employee, but I am destroying us.

    • Deborah Battle says:

      KT – I am close to the same situation in my marriage, except I am the wife controlling my husband. I, too am struggling with what is “controlling” and what is “fighting for my marriage”. I literally felt a death in me when my husband left me for a week (this last week). This was THE hardest thing I have ever faced in my life. But I look back and can already see the reason (God is TOO good to me!!) I feel that if he didn’t leave, I would have kept on controlling my husband out of fear, and it would have destroyed our family. I had NO idea I was doing this until this morning!! God has shown me the truth; now it is up to me of what I should do with it. I want to change, so this is the 3rd article I found on this subject today.
      To answer your question, I think we fight with the only weapon we have-prayer. God is MUCH stronger than we are anyways. I think if you and I focus on ourselves and our relationship with our Lord, He WILL be faithful to take care of everything else. We have to find worth in ourselves and not in our spouses. Will keep you in my prayers.

      • KT says:

        Deborah,

        Thanks so much for responding! I am hopeful your marriage is restored! Praise God! My marriage has gone the other way. I didn’t use prayer as my only weapon and made things worse by trying to figure out if she was having an affair (she was/is having an emotional affair as per her own admonition). I pushed her into filing for divorce because I was persuaded that I needed to move my money to a safe account to protect from her. Big mistake! It’s God’s money anyway, so it shouldn’t have mattered, but I did it. My wife wants nothing more than to get divorced and sees that as the only option. She even claims it is the right answer for our children. I have realized that although I have flaws and sins, that ultimately she has decided all of this without any hope or faith that God can do great things. I have faith that God will follow his plan and will let happen what needs to happen. I DO NOT want to get divorced, but it is out of my control. It’s Gods now! He will do His good work, with or without my wife. I hope you can give it to God also!

  • Frederick H Fisher says:

    For almost 14 years I lived with the lie of telling my wife it’s not her it’s other people I don’t trust. But really I wasn’t putting enough if any, into her. And my controlling unhealthy behavior has caused a giant riff between us. Just this Christmas we got into something and she told me that it was completely over! She doesn’t think that Jesus himself could come down and fix us. But after begging and pleading with her yet again to give me one last chance I got her to agree to let’s just take it day by day and we’ll see where it goes from here. Pheeewwww! 😧 Thank God I ran across this page to help me see the brighter side and help me become a better husband. ☺🙏

  • R.E. Hall says:

    I am a wellness doctor specializing in psycho-neuro immunology. I have been in practice for 32 years and have done the emotional side of health for over 20 of those. Fear is exactly right as to why we are controlling others (spouses especially). Good news! You do not have to live with this. Seek out a Christian doctor who uses neuro-emotional technique and let them help you. I have helped hundreds of patients over the years. It can be fixed!! And by the grace of GOD your marriage can be made to thrive again!! Exodus 14:14

  • Ozzy Iglesias says:

    Well I’ve been married 12 years with my wife and I have a problem of controlling and jealousy. I was also at one point abusive which has stopped but I know the damage is there. I really can’t say my wife has given me a reason not to trust her but little insignificant things that have. I’ve really been the one to cheat on her and be the one that has made most of the mistakes in our marriage. I’m the one now afraid that she will or is cheating on me to get me back. It could be maybe everything I’ve done that has me afraid my upbringing as a child never had that self esteem instilled by my parents always thinking I was ugly or fat never good looking enough for anyone to notice me. My father has also cheated on my mom and vice versa she has done somethings as well I don’t know if that has affected me in a way. I’ve had also friends back stab me as well which hurt a lot. I have a lot of emotions so scared that my wife hurts me to think she would even though she says she won’t because she thinks of her consequences and how both families would view and our kids too she tells me she has more to loose. But I still have that fear of being betrayed and hurt. I most of the times don’t feel good looking enough for my wife even though she tells me I’m her hot and handsome husband. I would love to tell my wife how sorry I am for cheating on her 8 years ago and wish she would fully forgive me because I know she holds a big grudge towards me which is not her fault but mine. These are the reasons why I feel the fear in me so much bigger and stronger then I am. But if my wife would be able to read this I do want to let her I know how deeply sorry I am for what I’ve done to her throughout the years and I do love her very much and that I am looking for ways to overcome the fear and not let control me and then turn it around and control her I want to or will be a better husband and father. If there are any advise, consults I would to hear them thank you very much.

  • jeremy schmidt says:

    This article was eye opening, aha moment if I’ve ever had one. So much so that I commenting now, which I never do. My wife and I have been at odds since shortly after we got married. She would often say that she feels like I dont trust her. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. I do trust her, at least in my own mind I did. Once in awhile she would say I was clingy or controlling. Those things also didnt make sense. Wasn’t being a good husband and always making time for her? Weren’t the questions I was asking out of love and concern? No, it wasn’t, and they weren’t. It wasn’t until I read this article that it finally made sense. Even to the very moment I read this, I had a deep fear of loss. When I started to look at my fears, I started to see what decisions and actions I was making and taking based on them. Those same actions and decisions were the same things that she was complaining about. Those things were also causing the perception of mistrust. I’m extreamly thankful that this article opened my eyes to this. Now that I see what was causing the problems, the real root of the issues at hand, I am sure that I can make changes for myself and for us. I just hope that it isn’t too late. Thank you!

  • Annoymous says:

    I think we are bith controlling in our own way. But in my behalf i feel for me im controlling of my husband everytime he wants to go out with his friends and drink. Hes hurt me cheated physically abuse etc. Im sure most people are wondering why im still with him. I guess its my insecurities that i feel hes given me he makes me feel worthless and tells me if he left I’d be nothing without him so i feel noone else willwant me. And so i feel like i control him not to cheat and i always “predict” the future.

    I really want to change my ways.

  • Timmie Gray says:

    this was a very insightful. My wife has asked me for divorce she is really never said why but I have realize that I have been controlling with good intentions. Because I always try to help her even when she doesn’t ask for help. I’m trying to work on my controlling issues because now I know I have them we have been married 13 years and I don’t want my marriage to end. Is there any tips or any books that I can read that can help me stop controlling. My fear that drives my controlling is that one day she will leave and now that day has come. I control by taking over the kitchen when I feel like she’s not cooking it right. I also argue with her until she sees my opinion and she submits. I also helped her with problem that she never asked me for help

  • Vee says:

    Thank you all for the comments and dialogue on controlling behavior. This helped me alot.

  • Jules says:

    Erm…This was a little helpful. I have controlling behavoir in my relationship because I am very frightened. As a kid, it took me a long while (till about college) to learn to open up to people. I opened up, and I dated. And every subsequent relationship up to the one I’m in now ended because my trust was betrayed in some way or another. It’s getting to the point now that I WANT to date–I truly do want to be with my partner–but when I hear the words “trust me”, my mind automatically becomes defensive. I’ve heard that so many times, to the point where it feels like it’s just words people are saying just to calm me down. When I get in a relationship, I go all-in, I never give less than my 100%. But it also makes me so vulnerable to the person I’m with. I control to protect, because I don’t ever, ever want to feel betrayal ever again. I don’t want to keep spiraling after every relationship I get into. But I know it’s wrong, and I know I should trust. I just don’t know how to get over this mental block showing me the millions of things that could potentially go wrong.

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