My husband and I were picnicking with my daughter and her family one bright, sunny day in Colorado. My mood was upbeat. The crisp mountain air filled my lungs with refreshed energy as I lifted my face to the clear blue sky. We stopped at a roadside picnic area for lunch, and as we unwrapped our sandwiches, chips, and cookies, I sat back, relaxed and once again took in the panoramic view. After the picnic, I went into immediate clean up mode, and without thinking, I snatched the bag of cookies away from my husband’s reach for his third helping. He gave me a hurt look as I quipped, “Do you really need another handful of those?” He responded, “I’ll eat what I want!” I slowly realized my mistake (being my husband’s self-appointed food manager) and ashamedly made a mental note of packing some humble pie for the next picnic.
Control can come out of our lives in so many different ways. If you find yourself saying “yes” to these three signs, you might be a controlling wife.
1. You’re a chronic critic and complainer.
It might start with nagging or nitpicking at his flaws. You may convince yourself you are trying to help him be a better person, but constant criticism or tearing down his self-esteem is unwarranted and offensive. No matter how small it may seem to you, it says to the spouse they are unaccepted, unloved, and not validated as they are. Criticism is the common denominator of many controlling relationships. Criticism puts conditions on your love and attempts to control the dynamic within your relationship.
2. You’re jealous and possessive.
Do you need to know where he is and what he is doing every minute? You find yourself questioning his friends, family, his phone conversations, and any time away from you. Most likely, this behavior comes from fear, but it communicates disrespect. Fear seems rational only to the person who is tormented by it. Fear, jealousy, and possessiveness destroy trust and wreck relationships. It is a paralyzing chokehold which holds you back from true intimacy. Jealousy and envy ruin the trust between two people.
3. You manipulate feelings.
Using guilt or intimidation as a tool, controlling people are skilled at making their partner’s own emotions work in the controlling person’s favor. If you can manipulate your partner into feeling guilty about every little thing, then a lot of the controlling work is done for you. Gradually, your husband will relent, give up power, or sacrifice their feelings just to put a stop to the verbal aggression. You hinder your partner’s emotional state by making him second-guess everything or rob them of their right to have feelings. In your wedding vows, “I do” doesn’t mean control; but it does mean to “love and cherish.”
There are many other ways in which you can control your husband and knowing the signs can help head off disaster later. If you find yourself identifying with these signs, get some help to allow you to sort out why you are wanting to act this way. My mom used to say, “On your best day you can only control you.” You can’t control others, but you can control your responses to others. We lose so much if we allow our lives to be ruled by control!
In what ways have you tried to gain control?
Janelle Keith loves lattes, good laughs, and lives to notice the good in others. She is the author of Grace for Your Waist, her story of losing 132 lbs. of weight.