It’s so much easier to blame your spouse than to look at yourself—and this is especially true when marriage control issues are involved.

Controlling behaviorIf you’re the more controlling spouse, it’s tempting to blame your partner for waiting so long to speak up about her (or his) distress over the situation.

If you’re the more passive partner, it’s tempting to blame your controlling spouse for not respecting your feelings or insisting that you always do things his (or her) way.

Whatever your role in the relationship—either too controlling or too passive—here are three steps that you can take to start improving your marriage by addressing the control issues:

  1. Take full responsibility for your part—whether it’s being controlling or being too passive. Each type of behavior has been learned, and at one time, it may have served a useful purpose. But if you’re going to have a marriage that is a true partnership, you’ll want to achieve more balance in decision-making and communication.
  2. Avoid the victim trap. It’s tempting to blame your mate, but that will only distract you from the real issues at hand and will disempower you.
  3. Educate yourself about control issues so that you’ll understand them better. The more skills you acquire, the better you’ll be able to handle a stressful control situation.

Question:  Is controlling behavior a problem in your marriage in the perception of at least one spouse?

Reflection: Regardless of whether you’re the dominant or the passive partner, are you willing to change your behavior in order to repair your marriage?

Exercise: Subscribe to our free mini-course on How to Understand the Control Conflict Dynamics in Your Marriage.

–Written by Nancy Wasson, Ph.D.