How to Stop Being Controlling in a Relationship

How to Stop Being Controlling in a Relationship

Controlling behavior often involves monitoring, questioning, or manipulating the other partner’s actions. It can manifest in various forms, from micromanaging your partner’s actions to imposing unrealistic expectations on the relationship. 

This can lead to a breakdown of trust as the controlled partner feels scrutinized and invalidated. These behaviors not only erode trust and intimacy but also hinder personal growth and fulfillment.

While it may seem daunting to address these behaviors, remember that change is possible. This guide provides insights and tools to help you stop being controlling in a relationship.

8 Ways to Stop Being a Controlling Wife

Behaviors are not set in stone and you have the power to change them. Here’s how:

1. Confront your insecurities

Controlling behavior can sometimes stem from a desire to exert control as a means of coping with underlying insecurities. These insecurities might manifest as fears of abandonment, feelings of inadequacy, or anxieties about losing your partner’s affection. 

Acknowledging insecurities may feel like admitting failure or weakness, leading some women to suppress or deny their true feelings.

But insecurity itself is not inherently negative. In fact, acknowledging your insecurities can be the first step toward personal development and deeper intimacy in your relationship.

Let’s say you feel insecure about your partner spending time with friends without you. Instead of resorting to controlling behaviors like constantly texting or demanding to know their whereabouts, take a step back and reflect on the root of your insecurity. 

Are you afraid he will have more fun without you? Are you worried he will form stronger bonds with others? Once you identify the underlying fear, you know what to work on.

Instead of letting insecurities dictate your actions, use them as motivation to better yourself. Whether it’s working on boosting your self-esteem, seeking professional guidance to address past traumas, or developing new skills, channeling your insecurities into positive actions can lead to personal empowerment and fulfillment.

true strength

2. Understand your fears

Controlling behavior may also stem from underlying fears that can vary from person to person and relationship to relationship. By identifying and understanding these fears, you can begin to address them more healthily and constructively. Here are some common examples:

Fear of loss

One common fear that drives controlling behavior is the fear of losing your partner. This fear may stem from past experiences of abandonment or betrayal, or it may be fueled by insecurities about your own self-worth. 

Fear of insecurity

Another fear that can lead to controlling behavior is the fear of feeling insecure in the relationship. You may worry that your partner will cheat on you, leave you for someone else, or stop loving you altogether. This fear can manifest as attempts to monitor or control your partner’s actions and behaviors.

Fear of the unknown

Controlling behavior may also arise from a fear of the unknown or a lack of control over the future. You may feel anxious about what lies ahead for your relationship and seek to exert control as a way of coping with this uncertainty.

3. Heal your “I Was Just Trying To Help” Syndrome

Controlling behavior can sometimes be disguised as helpfulness or concern, leading one partner to exert influence over the other under the mask of assistance. 

This “I Was Just Trying To Help” Syndrome can stem from a genuine desire to support your partner but can inadvertently become suffocating and disempowering.

  • Recognize the pattern

Take a step back and reflect on your interactions with your partner. Do you often find yourself offering unsolicited advice, making decisions on his behalf, or micromanaging his actions? If so, you may be experiencing the “I Was Just Trying To Help” Syndrome.

  • Understand the impact

While your intentions may be good, controlling behavior can erode trust, autonomy, and mutual respect in a relationship. It can leave your partner feeling patronized, invalidated, and disempowered, ultimately hindering the growth and harmony of your partnership.

  • Have faith in him

Instead of defaulting to a “fix-it” mentality, strive to cultivate a mindset of collaboration, support, and empowerment. Recognize that your partner is capable of making his own decisions and solving his own problems, and trust in his abilities to do so.

have faith in your husband

4. Recognize the “I Know Best” Mentality

Controlling behavior can also manifest in the form of a belief that one partner knows what’s best for the other, leading to attempts to dictate or manipulate their choices and actions. This “I Know Best” Mentality can stem from a desire to assert dominance or from genuine concern, but regardless of its origins, it can undermine trust and mutual respect in a relationship.

Reflect on your interactions with your partner. Do you frequently dismiss his opinions or preferences in favor of your own? Are you quick to make decisions on his behalf without consulting him? If so, you may be exhibiting the “I Know Best” Mentality.

While you may believe you’re acting in your partner’s best interests, controlling behavior can breed resentment, frustration, and a sense of disempowerment. It can create a power imbalance in the relationship and erode the foundation of trust and equality.

Instead of assuming you know what’s best for your partner, strive to approach your relationship with humility and empathy. Recognize that both partners bring unique perspectives and experiences to the table, and prioritize open communication, compromise, and mutual decision-making.

5. Let go of expectations or roles that you have to conform to

Whether these expectations come from societal norms, family upbringing, or personal insecurities, clinging to them can create tension and dissatisfaction within the relationship. 

So how do you break free from these constraints?

First, reflect on your expectations.

Take a moment to examine the expectations you have for yourself and your husband. Are they truly aligned with your genuine desires and values, or do they stem from external pressures or fears? 

Think about the roles you feel obligated to fulfill or the standards you feel compelled to meet. Are these expectations coming from within, driven by your own aspirations and beliefs, or are they imposed by societal norms, family expectations, or past experiences?

Consider how these expectations make you feel. Do they bring you a sense of fulfillment and authenticity, or do they leave you feeling constrained and unhappy? Are there any fears or insecurities underlying these expectations?

Now, challenge these expectations. Are they serving your growth and well-being, or are they holding you back from living authentically? What would happen if you let go of these expectations and allowed yourself to be guided by your true desires and values?

6. Rebuild your trust

Controlling behavior often stems from unresolved trust issues within the relationship. If you find yourself struggling with controlling tendencies, it may be helpful to examine whether underlying trust issues are at play. Here’s how to address this:

Acknowledge your triggers

Be mindful of the situations or interactions that trigger your controlling behavior. Pay attention to the thoughts and emotions that arise in these moments, and recognize how they may be connected to past experiences.

Reflect on past experiences

Take a moment to reflect on any past experiences or traumas that may have contributed to your trust issues. This could include previous relationships where you were hurt or betrayed, as well as childhood experiences that shaped your beliefs about trust and security.

Tell your husband about it

Be open and honest with your partner about your struggles with trust. Share your concerns and fears with them, and work together to address any underlying issues that may be contributing to your controlling behavior.

Seek help

Consider seeking support from a marriage coach who can help you navigate and process your trust issues. Coaching can provide a safe space to explore your feelings, identify unhealthy patterns, and develop strategies for rebuilding trust.

7. Don’t strive for perfection

A desire to control every aspect of a relationship in pursuit of an idealized vision of perfection can lead to controlling behavior. This unrealistic expectation can lead to stress, tension, and dissatisfaction. Here’s how to let go of the need for perfection:

Acknowledge the pressure

Recognize the pressure you may feel to create a perfect relationship. Understand that this pressure can lead to controlling behavior as you try to micromanage every detail to fit an impossible standard.

Embrace imperfection

Embrace the imperfections and challenges that come with any relationship. Understand that no relationship is perfect, and that’s okay. Instead of striving for perfection, focus on fostering love, trust, and mutual respect.

Don’t lose sight of the good

Recognize that they are human and will make mistakes, just like you. Let go of the need to control his behavior or change him to fit your idea of perfection.

Controlling behavior often arises when we fixate on the negatives or imperfections in our partner, striving to mold them into our ideal image. Take time to acknowledge and appreciate the positive qualities and actions of your partner. Focus on his strengths, kindness, and the things that you admire about him.

8. Ask for help

Addressing controlling behavior in a relationship is a journey that requires self-awareness, reflection, and proactive steps toward change. 

From confronting insecurities and understanding underlying fears to rebuilding trust and letting go of unrealistic expectations, each step is essential in growing a relationship based on mutual respect, trust, and authenticity.

If you find yourself struggling to break free from controlling patterns or navigate challenges in your relationship, don’t hesitate to ask for help. Seeking support from a qualified marriage coach who can provide valuable insights, tools, and resources to help you overcome obstacles and build a stronger, more resilient relationship.

Take the first step toward positive change by booking a call with me today.

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Beth Miller

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