Do you have a controlling spouse? While the term is a bit vague and not clearly-enough defined, it is one of those situations where you know it when you see it. Here are some signs that you have a controlling spouse:
a. they do not want you talking much to your friends or extended family
b. they resent your spending time doing your own thing
c. they fly into a jealous rage now and then for no apparent reason
d. they check your cell phone records and other personal information that they have no business with
If you have a controlling spouse, of course the best remedy is to get them to admit their problem. At that point, you would probably want to seek therapy so that you can save your marriage.
You may find yourself wondering, “How can I tell my spouse they are too controlling?” Here are 3 steps to breaking the news to them as gently as possible:
1. Take the time to write out example of how they are controlling:
This of course is a very difficult and sensitive subject. Chances are that some very well-rooted personal feelings of insecurity are at the root of your spouse’s deep need to control everything you say or do. But, telling them they are insecure will likely only make them madder. Instead, you need to put together a crystal-clear statement about examples of how they are controlling.
Write out 5-10 examples of ways in which you think their involvement in your life is controlling and unhealthy. Then, write down exactly how each of those actions makes you feel when they are happening. The goal here is to come up with specific examples, rather than just making general statements. And, by letting your spouse know how you feel, you give them the chance to feel sympathy and understanding for you.
2. Write out 3 things you love about him or her:
Now, take a moment to ground yourself in at least 3 things that you admire, care about and love about your spouse. It is likely that you love them, despite their flaws, which is why you have not left them yet. (Note: if you cannot think of any reasons why you love them, it may be time to rethink your marriage).
3. Make a special appointment to talk to them about it:
Now, it is time to share what you have written and thought about with your spouse. But, you will want to avoid bringing this up in a spontaneous way. Rather, set a special place and time – like a date or an appointment – to talk about it. Let them know ahead of time that you have something very important to discuss with them that is affecting your relationship.