Confronting Controlling Spouse — Avoiding Power Struggles

confronting controlling spouse with advice on how to deal with a controller

Living or being in a partnership with a controlling spouse can be tricky. You want your relationship to work but reside with a permeating feeling of guilt and powerlessness all the time. Our team at FinditHealth found that a controlling spouse tends to take charge of every aspect of your life and relationship, leaving you to feel totally out of control.

If you are unsure what to do or questioning if a controlling spouse can change, this article is for you. We will look at the signs of a controlling spouse and then take you through how to deal with the situation effectively.

confronting controlling spouse with advice on how to deal with a controller

How To Deal With A Controlling Spouse

confronting controlling spouse listen to your initial instinct

To deal with a controlling spouse, it’s essential to know what makes a person controlling in the first place. 

Did your spouse lose a loved one in an accident or have a traumatic childhood? Some traumas can cause someone to irrationally feat instability or unpredictability. This comes across as trying to control someone as they feel like they have control over nothing in their life. They are figuring out what is causing your spouse to behave in this way in the stepping stone to stopping the controlling nature. Because once you identify the problem, you can understand where this behavior is coming from and treat it with love and empathy.

Once you understand the issue, try talking to your spouse about how their behavior is damaging your relationship. Most spouses are unaware of their controlling nature and will either be embarrassed by it or blow it off and get angry. You need to be respectful and not get angry at yourself in this situation. Feel free to gently remind them of the times they came off as controlling and how it made you feel.

Talking to your spouse openly is crucial to dealing with controlling behavior.

The next step is to state your boundaries and how you would like to be treated in these situations. It is essential that you set some rigid boundaries about what behavior will and won’t be accepted. Sit down with your spouse and let them know what behavior is controlling and troubling for you and what you are willing to take. Suppose your spouse loves you and wants the relationship to move to the next level. In that case, they will be ready to make changes and evolve together.

If this isn’t helping, the next step is to seek a professional. Through couples therapy, both of you can feel heard and sort out the issues with the help of a licensed therapist.

Don’t Get Into A Power Struggle

confronting controlling spouse don t get into a power struggle

When you’re dealing with a controlling spouse, it’s hard not to argue and get into a power struggle. 

The controlling spouse can be very frustrating, and you don’t want to bow down to them or start becoming controlling yourself. It would help if you tried to stay calm and patient when dealing with a controlling spouse. Instead of getting in their face, ask them gently if they have considered your perspective. Be the bigger person here and treat them as you would like to be treated in this situation. It is helpful to remember here to use reflective over reactive communication techniques.

For many human beings, arguing is a natural reaction to a spouse’s controlling conduct, but this can be one of the worst things you could do. A controlling spouse will be determined to be correct, and this tactic of arguing will only escalate the situation. Instead, be calm and remind yourself that you can disagree with your spouse without yelling or being disrespectful. It’s striking the balance of stating your needs and considering your partner’s critiques.

An example could be, “I understand your point here, but could you also see my perspective and how I feel?”Avoid getting into a power struggle and remind yourself that a relationship is between two people. Take more control of the relationship by making some decisions about what the two of you do together. Think independently for yourself and set boundaries on what you will and will not tolerate. Even dialogue and discuss how you will handle future controlling tendencies from your partner. Another great practice you could do together is an intimacy meditation.

This will allow you to feel more intimate with your partner and opens the door for a deeper conversation. You could also try writing down your thoughts and then sharing them with your spouse. These can be thoughts on your goals, emotions, or even the life you want to build with your partner. This will help change the perspective on your relationship and allow you to try and build something different.

Listen To Your Initial Instinct

It’s easy to lose yourself when your spouse constantly criticizes your every move but never forget yourself. Listen to your initial instinct and recognize you need to leave a situation or take a step back and put yourself first.

You especially should never be in a relationship when you avoid doing things you enjoy because it upsets your spouse. Take control of your own life, and remember you have a life outside your spouse. You need to surround yourself with a good network of positive people and frequently visit with them.

It also is helpful during this time to limit social media usage so you don’t change your situation to something online. This is a great period to journal and write down your emotions and thoughts and even your ideals in life. By doing this you will have a greater understanding of your highest self and the life you are wanting to live for yourself. By having clearer insight into who you are, and what you want, you can set boundaries in your relationship and help your spouse heal.

Lastly, abuse doesn’t necessarily have to be physical, as unhealthy and dangerous patterns aren’t always obvious. It can be verbal, mental, and psychological as well. Make it clear to your spouse that you will not tolerate any abuse and if they don’t listen, think about your option. Confide with close friends and family, try couples therapy, and most importantly, don’t stay in a situation that lowers your self-esteem or hurts you.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of a controlling spouse?

A controlling spouse tends to take charge of every aspect of your life and relationship, leaving you to feel totally out of control.

How do you respond to a controlling wife?

The best way to respond to a controlling wife is to set boundaries about what behavior will and won’t be accepted.

How do you not respond to a controlling husband?

You should never respond to a controlling husband through arguing. This will make everything worse and set up a power struggle between you.

What causes control issues?

A potential cause of control issues is a failure to set or maintain boundaries.

How do you fix a controlling relationship?

To fix a controlling relationship, focus on communicating, setting boundaries, and going to couples therapy if needed.

Conclusion – Research by

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There should be an equal balance of power in a healthy relationship. If you have a controlling spouse, it might be hard to feel in control of your life. Suppose your spouse is willing to change and accept responsibility for their actions. In that case, it’s possible to fix the unhealthy power dynamic in the relationship.

Research at FinditHealth finds that open communication, setting boundaries, and even counseling can be super beneficial in regaining a sense of control and feeling happy again.

Find It Health Editor in Chief Luz Chacon Health and Wellness Coach Giving You Advice

Luz Chacon

Luz Chacon is a Health Educator, Wellness Coach, and EFT Tapping Practitioner with 30+ years in health advocacy. Specializing in stress management, wellbeing, and holistic health, she created a 40% stress reduction employee program. Luz is dedicated to helping busy individuals prioritize self-care, break patterns, and reach goals. She offers programs for organizations and individuals. Luz is passionate about sharing her health research and guiding informed choices!

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Luz Chacon Health Coaches at Find It Health and Stress Management and Natural Holistic Health Coaches