Breaking the control cycle


I have parents who were loving and yet controlling to get their way (dad through verbal force, mom through tears). My aunts have to have control over every function. My dad’s family, well, if they don’t get their way it just may be the silent treatment until someone caves in. I find myself getting very upset when things aren’t done my way. I have a very difficult time letting go and letting God take over. Sometimes the thought of marriage bothers me b/c of the whole submissive thing and hoping that my future spouse won’t abuse that and start controlling. I feel like a spoiled brat, but there really aren’t good examples in my family of non-controlling people. Well, there are, except they’re soooo laid back that getting them to do anything is not worth the effort.

Has anyone here suffered control issues? How did you overcome them? I don’t want my daughter to inherit this problem.


i guess this means that you are not married. I am a strong willed person and was initially lead to believe by my husband that I was not submissive enough. I have lately been looking into what God says what a submissive wife is which is through some DVDs which a pastor was kind enough to lend to me for marriage counselling.
Being submissive does not mean letting go of your own personality. Marriage is a covenant where you should submit to one another.
He loves you like Christ loves the church and you submit to him like the Church is under his authority. If he loves you like Christ, he would not ever want anything bad for you so doing your duty towards such a person will never feel like oppression.
The DVD did say that his career takes precedence over your career and you should agree on major decisions but in a good marriage, decisions are taken by 2 people and not just one.


I don’t have a lot of advice but for what it’s worth…

I think the first step is to figure out what is and what is not within your control. I think many people think that if something (or someone) is not ‘the way it (he/she) should be’ that they can fix things if they just do or say the ‘right thing’. This is often not the case. If you do something reasonable, unreasonable people are likely to react in an unreasonable fashion.

Too often you must chose between doing what’s reasonable and/or right and having people like you.

My ‘second step’ flows out of the first. You need to bear the consequences from others of what you do or say. You do have control over how you behave, even if you can’t control your feelings or those of others.


You said that you do not have good examples in your family to follow…on the contrary you have a very good example in your family…Jesus Christ.

You said that you get upset when you do not get your way, this is a struggle for all of us…when you call yourself a “spoiled brat” I beleive that is just an indication of how you might handle the disappointment, but you are not alone, ALL of us are disappointed when things don’t go “our way”. Even Jesus Christ.

Jesus did not want to die on the cross, he did not want to be crucified…in fact in the garden he was praying that God would not let this happen to him! Think of Jesus when you do not get your way…even in the smallest way. Unite your pain to his and draw on his strength.

When something does not go your way, pray “Jesus, things are not going as I wanted, just as things did not go as you wanted. Please help me to handle this situation with the same grace that you handled yours and trust in God the way you did”

You are seeking to be different than your family, that is wonderful! Pray for God to give you the graces to change and he will! Hope this helps.


I think it would be important to this discussion to ask: what, really, IS controlling behavior.

I think a lot of things can be defined as controlling that really aren’t. I have had the experience of being labeled ‘controlling’ by my husband, and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out what I had actually done to deserve that label. After years of trying to get a straight answer, guessing, and being afraid to voice any opinion for fear of him telling all his friends and co-workers this, I finally got an answer: I once paid off a bill before the interest charge kicked in!! For this, for 14 years, I have been painted as some kind of shrew to his family, friends, co-workers, and people on marriage message boards.

I guess my point is, it’s easy to feel controlled, perhaps because one feels out of control of their own life. But this doesn’t necessarily mean that the other person is really a controller, or trying to be in any way. They may think they are just going about their own business.


I only have a brief moment, but just as an example, growing up my mom would say, “put on blush” “pull your hair back” “wear something else” “put on makeup”. My dad wouldn’t really say as much (my parents are divorced so I lived with my mom) but he would do things so that others wouldn’t have good choices (like go on active duty, by choice, while I helped my step-mom raise and cheuffer my sister and brother around). My aunts tell everyone what to do when it comes to family functions (who is to do dishes, cook, what gifts to buy, etc.).


I’m not sure what you describe is what I’d call controlling. I’d say you are describing bossiness and nagging.

I’d say “controlling” is defined more by the reaction of the person if his or her wishes are not respected. Normal bossy people get miffed and annoyed. Controlling people will punish those who don’t obey them. Controlling people won’t speak to you for six months (when you are in their presence) or may even resort to violence.

Now bossiness could be evidence of a controlling person but it doesn’t prove it. A parent can be unnecesarily bossy. But a parent does have authority over a minor child. A controlling person insists on controlling things outside of his or her authority.

Now I consider a parent telling a child to put on makeup to be rather weird but I wouldn’t call it controlling. Now if a husband insists his wife wear makeup (I’m assuming this a command rather than a mere suggesting) I’d say that* IS* controlling because that’s outside of a husband’s normal authority. If a parent insists an adult child wear makeup and makes it clear their will be consequences to the relationship if the command is not obeyed then that would be a controlling parent.

Now I’m not suggesting that bossiness or nagging is okay while controlling behavior is not. Bossiness can be extremely annoying. But there may be circumstances where it is necessary.


When you say your aunts tell everyone what to do at family functions, having been at many family, church, work, community, etc. functions I can attest that at these functions, someone does need to organize.

If there is not orginization and a plan, no one will do the dishes :eek: If someone does not plan a menu and coordinate who brings what dish, well, you’d end up with 3 cheese dips and 4 cakes but nothing else to eat. You might offer to help them with the planning and orginization of the next family get-together, it would let you feel more in control of the situation and also give you some appreciation of how difficult planning these things can be.


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