Are you married to or dating a person that controls you with emotional drama?
Is your partner so out of touch with themselves that the only way they can feel in control is by externalizing it; by trying to control you with their moods, their purposeful silence, and emotional outbursts?
If you are married to this type of person, you have two choices: you can try to save your marriage if you feel it is worth it, or you can leave.
If you choose to stay it will require major effort, infinite patience, tough love, and understanding to save your marriage. It will also require you to change — big time!
Heroes don’t save marriages
Why should you change? You need to change because you have been a player in your partner’s drama. By acquiescing to your spouse’s control, you have empowered it. By allowing it to get this far — to bring you such unhappiness — you have contributed to your own misfortune.
Trying to assign blame is pointless. Your partner may behave in a heartless manner, and you may be a kind person, but that doesn’t make your partner wrong and you right.
Until you accept your responsibility you can only wish for marital bliss. Once you own your part in your relationship troubles though, you will be empowered to save your marriage. You can begin to help your spouse change the moment you change your response to what is happening in your marriage.
If you have been an enabler of your spouse’s emotional dominance, you must first stop enabling. Change begins with you. So are you willing to own this? Are you willing to save your marriage by changing how you respond to your spouse’s emotional control tactics? Are you willing to practice some real tough love?
You can save your marriage
You can save a dysfunctional marriage if it is worth saving, by… Supporting the best and rejecting the rest. Let me say that again: you must fully support the best and the good that is in your partner, and you must unerringly and firmly reject the drama. You must absolutely refuse to be a player any longer.
How would that look? Well, if your spouse tries to get their way by using emotional outbursts, instead of submitting just to keep the peace, hold your ground but do not enter into argument. Remain calm and maintain your integrity. State why this doesn’t work for you and leave it at that. If your partner walks off slamming doors, so be it. Let them be.
On the flip side, whenever your spouse acts in a manner that respects you, is constructive, and shows love — throw yourself into supporting that. Take part. Engage it fully.
Changing how you respond in such a drastic manner can be intimidating. You might think that everything will collapse. But what alternative do you have? A bad marriage is worse than no marriage at all. You either fix it, live with it, or leave it.
Every situation is different. Some are dangerous or so volatile that everything will indeed collapse when confronted in this way. But perhaps those relationships are not the ones we should be trying to save. And if you are, it is best to see a marriage counselor.
For most of us, we just have to get over our fear of imaginary consequences — and let the cards fall where they may.
But what about the kids?
Are you afraid of triggering an onslaught of raw and rampant emotion that will somehow damage your children? Have you stopped to think how your submission and your spouse’s controlling behavior already damages them? You can go for years and suffer, and acquiesce, and keep the peace if you want. But what will your children learn from this? What roles will they silently choose for themselves? What controls will they learn to employ or shrink from, and what kind of relationships are you teaching them to develop?
It might surprise you how quickly a marriage can mend if you accept that you have the power to change it by changing how you respond. You can correct years of dysfunction in a few months. Your children will then have a chance of learning from parents who express love and support for one another — and stand up for themselves.
Tell your spouse how you feel
So if this looks like your relationship, talk to your spouse. Tell them it isn’t working. It can’t work like this. And if you have children, it is especially hurtful to them.
Let your spouse know that things must change and that you are beginning with yourself. You will no longer be the peacekeeper and the enabler. Admit your role in the imbalance that has developed in your marriage, and say what you are going to do about correcting your part in it. Ask your partner if they are willing to accept their responsibility also.
Say what will work for the marriage and what won’t. Draw clear lines and let him or her know that you are firm — then back it up each time the situations drifts into old patterns.
Understand, that like yourself, your spouse has emotional issues, perhaps past traumas that their behavior was masking. Understand that correcting the imbalance in your relationship is like removing the mask. It may well trigger these issues to come to the surface. Be prepared for this. Listen to your partner and ask them to be there for you as well. Talk with each other about your feelings.
Above all, remember that you are trying to save your marriage because you feel that you love one another, and that you are innately good people. Don’t become a righteous dictator. Don’t take his or her power away. Help redirect the power between you.
Do this with respect and love. Do it because it is the right thing to do. Do it because you want to experience a deep and mutually supportive marriage.
Over to you now…