By: C.D. Owens, Esq.
One of the major causes of divorces is when one of the spouses is a control freak. If you don’t know what that term means, you are blessed. In short, a control freak attempts to dictate how everything is done around them. They try to control people, situations and outcomes. A lot of you – both men and women – know how hard it can be to be married to one.
Control freaks rarely know they are one. They believe that they are helping people with their constructive criticism (i.e. not so helpful comments) or simply taking over to make sure things are done “right”. It can be difficult to stay married to this type of person and, in particular, almost impossible to try to co-parent. Control freaks strive for perfection, to the point of impeding progress and killing off any experience of freedom. Always striving to be the perfect wife, husband or child can be exhausting. But there is hope!
Psychology Today reports that for control freaks, it’s not about control, it’s about anxiety. To ease their anxiety the person becomes hypervigilant, thereby reducing their anxiety and making their environment emotionally safer. Once the other spouse realizes this you can begin to look at the problem in a different way. It’s not that you aren’t perfect, it’s that your spouse experiences a high level of anxiety and tries to control his/her environment to make themselves feel better.
So, the answer is YES! If you are married to a control freak and it’s causing problems, your marriage can be saved. Once you realize it’s really about their anxiety, find a way to talk to him/her about it. Ask him/her what they are worried about, what’s bothering them. If you know you are going to change up something in routine, give your spouse as much advance warning as possible. Knowing his/her triggers can help you avoid them, creating a more peaceful and calm environment.
And last, but not least – you’ll have to decide on your own limits. What can you tolerate and what’s not acceptable. In order for any relationship to work, both parties have to be willing to be vulnerable with the other spouse and be willing to work on the relationship. If one partner is unwilling or unable to do those two crucial things, it may be time to consider other alternatives.
If you are not able to resolve the issues with your controlling spouse and you have decided that your limits have been exceeded, it may be time for a consultation with an experienced family law attorney to explain your rights. Your rights are not what your controlling spouse tells you they are, it’s what the law says you are entitled to. There is a big difference.