How to Stop Being the Control Freak in Your Marriage

Your Partner is Your Partner - Not Your Employee.

How to Stop Being the Control Freak in Your Marriage

Micromanagement of your spouse will make nobody happy. Here's how to relax the grip on the reins.

Question: I have a capable and responsible husband, but I have a hard time not micro-managing him when it comes to our children and family life. How do I both give up some control and yet still maintain some?

People struggle to let go of the reins, especially in a place that they feel is their domain. In this dynamic the "micro-managed" become angry and feel that they are being dictated to and directed, like an employee. Meanwhile their "controlling" counterparts feel nervous and frustrated and see their systems and tried and true methods being ignored. Neither feels heard and both feel undermined and unappreciated.

What you can do:

Get Talking

Share how you feel with your partner. Own what you need to own ("I know I am a bit obsessive about vitamins;" "I am trying to relax on how the dishwasher is loaded"...), ask for understanding, and be prepared to let it go. When something is really important to you, make it clear why. Understanding one another's motives or thoughts will help you see their merit. From this place, you can figure out how you can work together.

Establish Priorities

What are the priorities regarding your home life or child? Discuss together the deal breakers, preferences, and differences. No matter how similar you are in tastes and ideas, you and your partner were raised in different homes with different opinions on how to do things. Some parenting styles might lead to the same result despite delivery, and you can weather the differences.

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Pick your Battles

Certain issues will be deal breakers because they're about the best interests for your child. For example, when your partner doesn't care about bedtime and lets your son stay up too late, you have to talk about how it affects the child's behaviour and mood. Sometimes it will be hard to get to a middle ground. You can't have one parent on board with co-sleeping and the other against, so hear each other out. With other issues, once you really explore them, you might find you aren't that invested and your partner can take the lead.

Adjust Expectations

Let go of the idea that your partner is going to do things exactly the way you want them done. If you don't have the burden of expectations, then you are free to allow another to do things in their way. There are obviously some non-negotiable basics around physical and emotional safety for your children, but after that allow your partner some freedom and choice to parent.

Manage your Feelings

Letting go and letting others lead is freeing. Regulate your own anxious feelings rather than managing others to get your worries under control. Your child won't succumb to a life of chaos because they attended school with a messy ponytail and tacky for “play only” jewellery. This is a concern about how it reflects on you more than it is damage to your child. It is fine to express a preference for a tidy appearance without losing the plot over the occasional variable in this plan.

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It is important to recognize that your partner will bring their own parenting and homemaking style to the mix which is important. Division in the home isn't helpful for anyone and your child will pick up on it, so try to find a strong front that allows for some diversity in styles. Trust at the end of the day you both want a happy home and family.

Want to read more about relationships? See Keeping Your Kids Grounded in a Money-Obsessed World and Parenting Together After Your Divorce.

I've started a monthly column to answer the YMC reader's relationship questions. Write to me on my Facebook Page,where I regularly share relationship articles and resources or tweet me at @kellyflanniganb for relationship advice from theThe Relationship Rescuer.