3 Ways to Fix A Controlling Relationship

BY: - 14 Aug '14 | Marriage

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He just be doin’ stupid stuff! None of it makes sense!”, she lamented.

Yeah…she was frustrated. How was I supposed to know that a simple, generic, non-invasive question like, “How are you and your  boyfriend doing?” would trigger such an impassioned response. But after I asked it, she then began huffin’ an puffin’…sighin’ and lamentin’ about her fledgling relationship. “I feel like I always have to correct him…tell him what to do…and stuff”, she continued.

So I responded, “I see. You want him to think like you…make decisions like you…do things the way you do them…don’t you? Basically, you want to date yourself!”

“No I don’t!” she said laughing

“Yes you do.”

“No I don’t. I just wish he’d stop doing stupid stuff!”

The point I went on to make with this young woman was: men and women think differently. DUHHHH…right! Now I know this is not breaking news. But this study on men and women’s brains by the University of Pennsylvania is. And it explains a lot. See…the left hemisphere (side) of the brain controls logic and judgment, while the right side controls creativity and emotion. This study looked at the brain activity of 949 children, adolescents, and adults aged 8 to 22. They consistently found that males have more brain activity within each hemisphere…but females have more brain activity across each hemisphere (Khazan, 2013).

What this means is: when doing a task, men tend to engage one side of their brain (the left or the right) – a whole lot; while women zig-zag back and forth between the left and right sides – a whole lot. “This could mean, for example, that men tend to see issues and resolve them directly, due to the strong connections between the “perception” and “action” areas of their brains, while women might be more inclined to combine logic and intuition [emotion] when solving a problem” (Khazan, 2013).

Think about your last boyfriend/girlfriend before the current one (if you’re with someone). Now think about how you use to make a decision vs. how they use to make a decision. Were you going East and West while your mate was going North and South…or vice versa? Working with so many male/female issues, I clearly see the differences in how men and women make decisions and solve problems. Neither way is better than the other. But when one person sees her way as ‘right’ and his way as “stupid”, you end up:

    1. trying to control the other person,
    2. devaluing their preferences and perspectives, and
    3. exalting your perception of reality and truth as fact — and dismissing any alternative approach.

This is textbook control freak…right here. So…if you are in  a controlling relationship — be it the controller or the controlled, here are three things you need to do to salvage it before it’s too late.

1. The Controller: Check Your Superior Attitude

Your attitude of always having to be right is killing your relationship. Stop being so selfish. You don’t have to be wrong…just let your mate be right sometimes too. It will make them feel valued and accepted.

2. The Controlled: Assert Yourself With a Few Simple Words

Assert yourself by stating your position with a few simple words (e.g., I don’t want to do that.) and let every action thereafter reinforce your position. Listen and be respectful. Repeat your position if necessary. But don’t cave. Don’t give in. To quote my colleague Christine St. Vil., No is a complete sentence.

3. Both: Create A Decision Strategy

Come up with an acceptable way to disagree and make decisions. I intentionally didn’t say ‘agree to disagree’; because ‘deciding to disagree’ is not a strategy for making a decision or solving a problem.

Create a simple non-bias way for how decisions will be made when there is an impasse…regardless of the issue. For example, on smaller issues where my wife and I are trying to decide between two different options, we rate…from 1 to 10…how much each of us wants to do A or B. We make our decision based on whose desire is greater (of course there must be trust in order for this to work). By the end of my conversation with the young woman, she got it! A week later she told me that she apologized to her boyfriend and pledged to stop trying to control him…and that she will let him have his way more often.

Have you been in a controlling relationship? Were you the controller or the controlled? Share what you did/doing to fix it.

Learn how to prepare for and overcome life’s challenges in your marriage. Get the tools you need to turn your marriage around. Click here to find out how from the country’s top African American marriage experts. 

About the author

Heath Wiggins wrote 83 articles on this blog.

The Purveyor of Understanding - Heath Wiggins married Bernadette (Bernie) Wiggins in October 1997. Together they founded the Family Bootcamp, LLC., a relationship consulting business that helps people improve the communication and trust in relationships. In 2013, Heath launched the blog and book His Leadership Her Trust to combat the lack of trust women had in allowing men be leaders in their relationships. His mission is to teach Christian men how to lead in such a way that women trust, respect, and actually want to them.

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Three Things Your Pregnant Wife Needs to Hear

BY: - 15 Aug '14 | Marriage

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Pregnancy is rewarding, but it also can be extremely hard. Crazy hormones, swollen feet, nausea and fatigue can be rough on a woman’s mind, body and, subsequently, a marriage. As a husband, it might feel like you can never get it right, at least I’m sure it did for mine at times. But there are a few things that your pregnant wife may need to hear more often to help keep your home happy. Keep these nearby over the course of 40 weeks and use as-needed.

You’re beautiful.

Think about the last time you told a woman that she was getting big and she took it as a compliment. If you came up with something, think about that again and determine whether or not this person was older than 11 because otherwise it never happened. Yet most don’t think twice about greeting a pregnant woman with “you’re huge!”  Even though a big belly can be evidence of a healthy baby growing inside, being constantly reminded of an ever-expanding waistline can give a woman’s self esteem a hit. Be the one to counter the negativity by complimenting her appearance whenever you can.

I’ll sit this one out.

It would seem that toting around another human being 24/7 would help combat loneliness, but pregnancy can be isolating. From riding a bike to having a drink, it can sometimes feel like the rest of the world is having a blast while you’re sitting around holding a long list of can’ts. If as a husband you’re always moving with the rest of the world, your wife can feel left behind and left out. Choose moments to join in solidarity with her. Skip that drink one day. Don’t put the extra blue cheese on your salad another. She doesn’t want to ruin your fun, but sometimes wants to feel like she’s not so alone in her sacrifice.

Get some rest while I [Fill in the blank].

It takes a lot of energy to grow a baby from scratch and the resulting exhaustion is real. I haven’t met the pregnant woman yet who truly objects to someone taking a chore off of her plate. Whether it’s washing the dishes or taking the kids out for a few hours, offer to give her the time and space to feel renewed.

BMWK – Would you add anything to this list? Ladies, what do you wish you heard more of during pregnancy?

About the author

Aja Dorsey Jackson wrote 214 articles on this blog.

Aja Dorsey Jackson is a freelance writer and marriage educator in Baltimore, Maryland and author of the blog and book, Making Love in the Microwave.

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