Relating vs. Controlling, Part 2: Couples

I have a tendency to control.  I like to do things in a certain way in my home, and expect others who are doing the same thing (i.e. husband) to do it the same way that I do.  I know in my heart that this is unrealistic and unfair, but I am being honest, and it is something I am working toward changing.

I try hard to let go and believe that even though others may not do things the same way that I do, that it will still turn out okay – the kitchen will get clean, sort of, the laundry will get put away, one day, and the floor will get clean, maybe.

I find that when I am tired I tend to be more controlling.  Does this happen to you too?

What has really been helping me is reading The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman.

In it the author states that each of us have one or two love languages that speak, or rather shout, love to us more than the other love languages.  The five love languages are:  physical touch, words of affirmation, acts of service, gifts, and quality time.

I learned that my love languages are quality time and words of affirmation.  As I was reading the chapter on words of affirmation one night I decided to try out some of the suggestions the author had to express love to one’s mate using this language.

The author suggests that one use words of encouragement as a way of connecting to one’s spouse and showing him or her love.  He states that most of the time it is easy to point out the faults of the other person and tell them all the things  they do wrong.  Those things are easier to notice and to pick on.  However, the more we mention to someone else what they are doing wrong, the more discouraged they get – to the point where they are not motivated to want to help with anything at all.  Why should they, after all;  they will just not do it the right way anyway.

In recent months I have noticed that although I tend to be careful how I speak and relate to my own children, I have not been as sensitive in the way I relate, connect to, and uplift my own husband.  I know that children learn most by what we do and not what we say.  My own coach helped me realize (it was like a slap in my face, actually) that no matter what I say to my children about any of the values that I want to teach them, my children learn the most by watching me; hearing the way I respond and relate to others and to what I do.  Children learn the most by our modeling.

So I have tweaked my focus over the last few years, to spend more time relating to my husband in a loving way.  Instead of pointing out what he is NOT doing, I make sure to show appreciation for everything that he DOES do.

Do I get upset when I have certain expectations that haven’t been met?  Of course I do.  I am still me, after all.

But now instead of being critical – I stop myself and wait.  I wait and I think to myself:  What kind of relationship do I want us to have? My answer: A relationship that is filled with respect, love, and encouragement.

Asking myself that question, along with asking myself how I can express what I am feeling in a loving way, helps me get real with myself and helps me build the relationship I want to have with my husband.  I tap into what I am really feeling, take some time to let my anger subside, and relate to my husband instead of trying to control him.


How about you?

Do you have a tendency to control?

What comes more naturally to you – a tendency to criticize or a tendency to encourage?

For the next two weeks – commit to only using words of encouragement with the people you care most about.  Think of a way to say things from a place of wanting to relate, connect to, and love that person. Take the time to point out all the things you appreciate.

Do a self-observation to see what impact this new way of interacting is having on your relationship.
Share your experience with someone you trust.

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Career & Relationship Coach | Leadership Trainer | Founder of UnleashingU!

Hi, I'm Jenny Sassoon, founder of UnleashingU! I guide professionals, students, entrepreneurs, and executives to move forward and thrive in their career, business, leadership and life in a way that is right and authentic for them. To schedule your complimentary consultation to learn more about how I can help you, click on the 'contact' tab above.

  1. Venus Taylor

    I love your honesty. You’ve named your website right – you are so incredibly REAL.

    I grow every time I read anything you write.

    Fortunately, I don’t struggle with controlling. My standards of cleanliness and order are very loose. I don’t care how well something is done, as long as folks do their share of the work, and do their best.

    However, I’m taking away that gentle spirit of self-acceptance that you illustrate in this piece. This piece reminds me to be as gentle and loving to myself as I am to my kids…AND as gentle and loving to my husband as I am to my kids. 😀

    We all fall short. We’re all imperfect. Unconditional love and gentle, kind words keep us connected to each other…and connection matters more than perfection. (Ooh, that rhymed. I’ve gotta use that in MY blog post now. LOL)

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