“Yeah, I’m a control freak,” a former co-worker laughingly admitted, “and that’s why my house is clean, the bills are paid, and my kids aren’t fatties. My husband doesn’t care, so I make everything happen that needs to.”
Not long afterward, I met her husband at a company party. He was handsome, knew it, and flirted with every woman there except his wife.
This was some years ago. But I recall it as a significant experience because, after meeting her husband, it seemed there must be a lot going on in their marriage my co-worker didn’t share. And because it scared me a bit. I had control freak tendencies too, and I didn’t want my husband to loathe me.
Takes One To Know One
What’s a control freak? It’s someone who vigorously orchestrates the events, actions, and beliefs surrounding them so they match a desired outcome or standard. They accomplish this by various tactics including criticism, nagging, threats, and big ol’ hissy fits.
And yeah, control freaks’ lives seem well-ordered and successful. But if we’re loved at all, it’s in spite of our methods and not because of them. Husbands and children have serious issues with us.But if we’re loved at all, it’s in spite of our methods and not because of them. Click To Tweet
Nevertheless, we can’t believe our family is not grateful for our brilliance and all we do on their behalf.
Any of this sound familiar? The truth is, we all like to be in control.
How Control Freaks Lose At Winning
No matter how we justify our behavior and its results, our husbands see our tactics for what they are: manipulation. But many of them don’t have the will to call it what it is and stand up to it.
Let’s be honest, there’s a lot at risk when you’re dealing with a strong-willed woman. And some men are ok with letting their wife direct everything. They may figure they work hard enough at their job and are ready to take it easy at home.
But their wives do not respect them. And they can’t respect themselves. That makes it practically impossible for them to love their wife.
A man needs respect and a woman needs love. That’s foundational to a healthy marriage. If either can’t find it at home, they may look for it elsewhere. Happens every day. And children of control freaks grow up and often run like the wind to find some independence.
With so much at stake, what’s a control freak to do?
The Root Of Control Freak Evil
The first step is to understand the root of the problem. You know, too, that your behavior is manipulative. If you drill down a little further, you’ll find your manipulation springs from fear. That’s where all the “What would happen if I didn’t take charge of this?” questions come from. You’d rather orchestrate the outcome you want rather than find out the answer.
But a lot of women stop drilling there because they think they’ve hit bottom. And the fact they’ve identified fear as the root of the issue simply gives them one more justification to continue in their behavior. Who would have the nerve to condemn someone because they were afraid? They should be supporting you, right?!
No need to ask me how I know this. I used this justification myself for a while.
But by God’s mercy, somehow I figured out there was more underneath fear. If you keep drilling, you strike a well of selfishness. The drill will finally grind to a halt on a bedrock of pride.
Here’s an example of the complete progression:
- My husband must lose weight. (Desired action)
- So I’ll casually mention his fault and avoid sexual contact. (Passive/aggressive manipulation)
- I’m worried about what others think of us and his health. (Real fears)
- Why should I be burdened with these fears? (Selfishness)
- I deserve better than this. (And there’s your pride)
Attack The Root
The longer I live, the more sure I am that Augustine was right. Pride is the source of all sin. Whether it’s controlling manipulation of another, lying, stealing, gossiping, over-indulging in food or drink, even murder. People do these things because they think they deserve more or better.
So it’s not enough to acknowledge your fears. That won’t justify manipulation or prevent it. If you want to put you control freak behind you and stop manipulating, stop disrespecting your husband, and stop undermining your marriage, then take an ax to selfish pride.
Direct the energy you had for addressing the perceived shortcomings of others toward addressing your own. The only way I know to do that is through prayer to God and accountability to someone you trust. Big changes are produced with big help.
I still have control freak tendencies because I still have selfish, prideful tendencies and will till I die. But I’m not laughing them off. I’m fighting them off with God’s help and alongside a husband who’s neither lazy nor afraid to call me out when I’m trying to manipulate him.