I think a desire for safety is a primary reason we seek control. We think being in control will keep us from being hurt. The more we were hurt as a child, the more likely we are to try to be in control as an adult.
The problem is being in control requires us controlling other people. If you want to ensure your wife doesn’t do something you dislike, you seek to control what she does. Thing is, most people don’t like being controlled, and this can set up a huge tug-of-war. The more you try to control her, the more she resists, which increases your fear and causes you to work even harder to control her.
Of course, the same thing happens the other way around, with the wife being the one driven by fear and her past. She tries to control her husband, he resists, and it escalates.
A great question to ask in these situations is “What do you think would happen if your spouse were “allowed” to do what s/he wants?” Putting the fear into words may be difficult, particularity if the real issue is something from when the person was six years old. Alternatively, maybe the fear is well understood, but so improbable or insulting speaking it is difficult.
We seek control to protect ourselves, but our attempts to be in control can easily limit, harm, or destroy our marriages. Understanding why we seek control is a good start to letting go.