A consistent theme I see with couples in crisis who are struggling to keep their relationship healthy is when one or both people feel the need to control the other.
Why do people want to control their partner?
They can choose to control the other person as a means to get their own needs met, but as you will see, this is a process they will regret.
The control can be either subtle, emotionally aggressive or passive.
This process of needing to control a partner can come from many sources.
What’s most important is to recognise it is happening and then seek help either together or alone.
Whichever way the person uses it, it’s usually fear-based and disconnects the person from who they really are and disconnects them from their partner.
The true cost of controlling a partner is loss of emotional security and emotional connection, which results in an inability for trust to be built, so it dies.
The result of controlling behaviours can create a variety of symptoms, below is a few examples.
Some people come to me after controlling their partner for years, telling me they just left the marriage without a word.
They tell me their partner changed personality, and they didn’t recognise them.
In these situations, the person has allowed the control for years and then one day they stop allowing it and take the control back.
Others will experience constant conflict, each trying to exert their will or power over the other.
This is an unsustainable process of I’m right, you are wrong.
One person might use emotionally aggressively methods to control their partner whilst the other rebalances them by controlling them passively.
Both people are miserable and can experience loss of love, passion, and respect.
Others may control the situation through pleasing, the symptoms can be exhaustion through having to do everything whilst getting back a fraction of what they expect, and this disappointment can create periodic outbursts of aggression.
Pleasing doesn’t work because it’s a trade driven by fear.
The person who is being traded with is going to be unaware of the trade, so they would never meet their partner’s expectations because they don’t know what they are.
These few examples are the tip of the ice burg, but as you can see from the few examples I’ve given, control in any form is a behaviour that poisons any connection.
This is ironic when many control others through a need to feel emotionally secure.
The people who choose to control others are unaware that the very act of controlling is leading them straight to the very fear they are trying to avoid.
Any form of manipulation is not healthy and will risk creating a crisis, it’s a ticking bomb.
He wouldn’t be controlled
I remember speaking to a gentleman in Harley Davidson.
He told me his wife told him it was either the bike or her and this was after years of riding with no accidents.
He said, “I chose the bike, and now we are divorced”.
You see, you cannot get a healthy result from changing the core of what drives a person and this is what so many are blind to.
Giving up the bike would have killed a part of his identity and who he was.
Loving someone is about bringing the best out of them.
This story isn’t about motorbikes, it’s really a metaphor that any behaviour must help each other bring out the best in each other.
You can’t kill the core of who someone is because you’ll kill their energy.
Many people do give up who they are to protect the relationship, but this is not sustainable and can breed resentment.
So a person has a choice either they are adding value or they are not.
Controlling does NOT add value it kills their connection.
Advice for Controlling Relationships
So if a person stopped their controlling behaviours, they would need to replace them with behaviours that still met the same NEEDS, but this time constructively.
In essence, the person would need to repattern their behaviour in a way which is safe for them and adds value to their relationship.
Not being able to do this is when the person or couple should seek help.
Get in touch if you are the controller or you feel controlled and you are ready to seek help now.