Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Just Ask Joyce: "My husband is controlling. Help!"

Q: “My husband is controlling. I knew that when I married him last year, so I guess I bought my own trouble. But he has gotten worse since we married. We have already had an argument over my Facebook account, and I had to close it. Now, he wants me to give up my two long-time friends. He says it’s only because we should spend all of our time together and get adjusted in our marriage. He has mentioned me quitting my job now and start trying to have a baby. We had agreed to wait five years to begin a family. How can I convince him that I need a life outside of marriage?"


Joyce: Millions of women marry under the false assumption that a man who is controlling will somehow lose that tendency. Now you are left with a decision: “How can I honor my marriage without losing my individuality?”

There is rarely an easy solution to your problem. Having lived my childhood in the home of an extremely controlling man, I realize how difficult it can be dealing with one. You are blessed in a couple of ways in your situation: 1) you have only been married a short while, and 2) you have no children.

Your brief marriage is a plus for you — you have not given up all of you yet. My advice: Don’t. There are many aspects involved in control issues, ranging from jealousy to power to insecurities and others. Here are some guidelines to help you get started with re-collecting your missing parts:

  • Begin working on yourself. Instead of changing him, begin with changing you. Your spouse will only do what you allow him to do. You cannot control his actions, only yours, so concentrate on fixing you.
  • Draw some distinctive boundaries for your personhood immediately. Decide what is going to be acceptable and unacceptable conduct. What dose of selfish, demeaning, or unmindful behavior will you tolerate? Only you can be the judge of what that amount will be. Judging from your comments, however, he extends boundaries in his favor. Just like children, controllers will extend boundaries as long as it goes unchallenged. Again, you must decide what lines are firm and fixed.
  • Love and respect must rule your marriage, or it will fail. The majority of people love the person they’re controlling. For the most part, they believe it is because they’re “protecting” the person they love. Your husband may indeed love you, but he falls short of respecting you. Arguments should never end up heated, number one. And number two, there should be a spirit of compromise. The Facebook dispute was not a meet-me-in-the-middle compromise at all. A better solution would have been to have joined you on Facebook and, as a couple, the two of you could have connected with friends. Respect generates love; love generates respect. 
  • Love who you are. He fell in love with you because you were who you are. If he changes that person inside of you — and he will, if this continues — not only will he not love who you become, but neither will you. It is no secret that we all change as we mature in age, experience, and love. But the beautiful part of marriage is growing together as a couple, not one spouse stifling or smothering that maturing process in the other.

Today is a good day to celebrate your marriage with your husband. But as part of that celebration, share with him your deepest feelings, outlining the boundaries you are willing to accept. I’m not suggesting it be presented as “or else.” With a willing spirit on his end, you will be able to work this out amiably. Without one, he will have to decide how much he really loves “who you are."

And, you need to keep your friends. You should be the one to determine whether you need to end a friendship. Likewise, having a baby is a very important issue, as is your job.

Boundaries. Define them, then draw them. Agree to disagree, but live to love without imposing restrictions. I encourage you to honor your marriage. It’s important that you do. But don’t lose yourself in the process. It’s not a life “outside of your marriage” that you should be seeking. It is to live your life within your marriage.

Change your life … NOW! Write Joyce Oglesby, Family-Life Fitness Pro™, at joyce@justaskjoyce.com. She's here to help! Check out her books and other resources today at JustAskJoyce.com.

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