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The One Thing That's Killing Your Marriage

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My wife often comes to me for a listening ear for some problems she faces throughout her week.

Her desire is that I'd listen to her, comfort her, and maybe provide a little bit of advice or encouragement. Sadly, I'm not an incredible listener; mainly because I want to fix rather than talk about problems. I attempt to regulate, or even more accurately, control my wife's emotions. In other words, I'm trying to fix her.

I bet you can relate. The one thing that's killing your marriage is control.

Here’s what happens when we try to control our spouse:

You create anxiety in yourself.

Most of the time, anxiety comes from our need for control. The desire to regulate our spouses emotions rather than listen, comfort, and encourage is causing us to not experience life the way we want to. When we want control, we'll get unexpected dose of anxiety as well.

You limit your outflow and inflow.

Our need for control makes it really hard to provide our spouse with an outflow of love, and even more difficult to receive it. Instead of being what our spouse needs, our instinctive need for control destroys intimacy, and leaves the impression that we’re in this for ourselves.

You question your effectiveness.

Trying to control and regulate our spouse's emotions will sap the love (what women need) and respect (what men need) out of the air. This leads most people to question their effectiveness as a spouse, listener, supporter, etc. Heading down this path can lead to destructive behaviors that are unhealthy for our spouses and us.

You compare yourself and spouse to others.

The most common occurrence in most marriages is comparison. When your relationship with your spouse has tension or conflict, it's more likely you'll fantasize and compare your spouse to another person. The truth is, control is the culprit for most of these feelings. You want your spouse to feel a certain way, look a certain way, talk a certain way. These desires and actions aren't just hurting your marital relationship, but it's hurting you.

There's probably a dozen more things that control does to destroy you and your marriage, but these are the few that I'm dealing with right now.

So how can we become more of what our spouse needs? Here's a few tips:

1. Apologize for trying to fix them

2. Admit you’re a control freak

3. Literally ask: “what do you need from me?" or "How can I encourage you?"

4. Be intentional with how you interact with your spouse

5. Listen

6. Pray for them

7. Pray with them

8. Reread point 5

9. Control the only person you can control: You

In a world that is overrun by divorce, we’ve got to put in more of an effort to sustain a healthy, God-honoring marriage. The only person you can control is you. 

What do you have to lose from becoming a better spouse? After all, your marriage and your sanity depend on it.

What are other ways that control is causing tension in your marriage?