Couples deal with their mutual desire for control in a variety of ways, most of which are poor solutions not resulting in either being very happy with the situation.
- My side, your side: Life is divided into areas, with each area being under the control of one spouse. He is king of the garage; she is queen of the kitchen. He handles the bills; she handles the social calendar. Suggestions are ignored, and help is not offered. Each wants more control in some area where there spouse “rules” but is unwilling to reciprocate by giving up control of in any of the areas where they “rule”.
- That’s your responsibility: An even less nice version of the above, where we deal with something we don’t want to do by assigning it to our spouse as their duty. Men did this for centuries, making certain things “women’s work”. This becomes a matter of control by limiting her time and energy. While it is not as bad as it used to be, this is not dead. And women do it too.
- Tit for tat: This is punishing our spouse when they exercise what we see as too much control. This could look like some of the things I mentioned yesterday. Tit for tat can also be excessive complaining, or doing little things to retaliate – things like “forgetting” something or losing something, or otherwise making your spouse “pay” for overstepping the bounds you would like her to follow.
- Now you see it, now you don’t: You want it one way, she wants it another, and you each keep changing it. You want an item in one place, she wants it in another, and you each keep putting it where you want it.
Does your marriage have bad compromises or silly games because of unresolved control issues? A lot of poor control “solutions” are less obvious than what I have listed, so you may have to think a bit.