Partners come together with unique and distinct personalities. Usually, two people in a relationship have many differences and similarities. But when someone in the relationship, or worse yet, both partners, are “control freaks,” it can be a recipe for disaster.
Rabbi Daniel Schonbuch, an author and family and marriage counselor, recently explained why control can damage relationships. He said that in his Brooklyn practice, he has worked with many couples who are dealing with control issues. In most cases, the control is circular: one partner tries to control a situation, and the other partner responds by trying control their partner back. This raises the level of control for the first partner, and so on.
Schonbuch says that control is based on respect. People don’t often try to control their friends and tell them what to do, where to go, how to spend their money, or how to talk. And yet, partners and spouses do that to each other far more frequently. He believes a lot of it is human nature. Many people will hold on to the belief that they can control the other person for years.
When they attempt to do so, it can breed resentment and anger. No one likes being told what to say or do. No one likes being put down in front of others, being yelled at, or being berated or belittled. All these forms of control do nothing for intimacy and trust.
Schonbuch teaches couples how to reduce their control and increase their respect for one another. He helps couples identify areas of control and makes them aware of how the control issues are affecting their behaviors, beliefs, and emotions within the relationship. It is difficult to live with a controlling partner. It is equally as difficult and destructive to try to control a spouse or partner. Schonbuch has a simple equation that he uses when dealing with control issues in relationships:
“More control and less focus on the relationship = unhealthy marriage.
Less control and more focus on the relationship = healthy marriages”
Schonbuck, Daniel, Rabbi. “Reducing Controlling Behavior.” The Jewish Press (n.d.): n. pag. 9 May 2013. Web. 10 May 2013. http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/family/marriage-relationships/reducing-controlling-behavior/2013/05/09/
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