With Thanksgiving in the U.S. a day away, it seems appropriate to discuss the many shades of a Controller “love style!” We wouldn’t be able to get through a true Thanksgiving meal or celebration without the “Control Freak” in somebody rising to the surface like a tasty batch of homemade rolls . . . minus the tasty! 😉
But the kind of “Controller” we’re talking about today is a far cry from a frazzled host or perfectionistic cook. This person has been deeply damaged by certainly a chaotic and probably an abusive childhood. 🙁
People raised in these kinds of environments learn that relationships aren’t safe and nurturing. In fact . . .
Of course, sometimes it’s not the parent per se that created the trauma, but rather a sibling, a neighbor, a care-taking relative, etc. But someone in that child’s growing up years created a devastating distortion in the way the Controller relates to others.
The chaotic and abusive family produces not only the “Controller” but the “Victim” love styles. I’ll unpack more about the “Victim” love style next week.
For now, let’s talk about . . .
What distorted this child’s “love style”?
1. Intense and angry outbursts were frequent, with the parent aiming his/her anger at the child.
If a child grew up in a home where this was the norm, s/he will pursue those kinds of relationships in adulthood. We gravitate toward what’s familiar, even when the familiar is painful.
2. Emotional displays were only acceptable for the parents and never allowed for the children.
When emotions are shown by the child, the parent is reminded of what feels broken inside them. So they try to squash this “reminder” they see in their children.
3. Marital discord is pervasive in these kinds of homes.
The children never see a mom and dad who love each other—not even in the rare calm moment. There’s always some kind of seething bitterness or contempt between the parents that’s felt by everyone in the family.
4. Parents have a high need to control and low tolerance for noncompliance.
Often these parents grew up in chaotic homes themselves, so they don’t know how to cope with stressors. In fact, these kinds of damaged parents often feel great hostility toward their own children when there’s little reason to feel that way.
5. Abuses of every kind, including neglect, were often the norm.
Sad, but painfully true.
How does this “love style” operate in a marriage?
1. It manifests very much like what s/he experienced in childhood (see list above). Childhood and marriage are often identical in many ways for the Controller.
2. They take the tack of wielding anger like a weapon. Instead of it being a tool meant to open one’s eyes to a problem, they use it as a weapon to whack someone else between the eyes. Punishing others with their anger or even physical abuse becomes the way to solve problems.
3. They must be in charge at all times. Since the Controller felt his life was “out of control” in his childhood, s/he often adopts an oppressive need for control in his or her marriage.
How do you bring healing to a “Controller’s” marriage?
1. If you’re the Controller, your first stop should be to a good counselor.
Your wounds from the past are too extensive not to seek the help of a recommended professional, preferably one who is also a Christian.
2. Seek God and surround yourself with godly and “safe” people.
Many churches have good recovery groups that are a “safe place” to heal and connect with others going through the same things you’re facing. Most of all, incorporate prayer and Bible reading into your daily routine. God wants to draw near to you and the best way to let Him move in your heart and life is through His word and prayer.
If you’re married to a Controller, many of the same steps above apply to you. You’ve probably experienced just as much damage and are in need of as much support and care as your spouse—maybe more so! Don’t go it alone, my friend!*
What are some controlling tendencies that “rise up” in you during holiday celebrations (even if you’re not a “Controller”)?
What would you add to my list of positive steps that a “Controller” could take?
In the spirit of Thanksgiving and since I mentioned the “rising homemade rolls“ above, click on the link and you’ll find a free recipe to snag and bake!
If you’d like to read more about these “love styles” in marriage, check out How We Love by Milan and Kay Yerkovich.
* If you’re in a physically abusive relationship you need to seek the help of National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 or 1-800-787-3224 without delay! Keep in mind that if you try to separate from an abusive spouse, you’re running the risk of your spouse retaliating with even more abuse. You’ll need the help of a counselor trained in separating from an abuser to guide you through the process before leaving that environment.
I’d love your help with my “questioning marriage” vlogs where my hubby and I (or just I) respond in video form to questions on the weekend posts. You can access that brief, two question survey here. Also, you can access my survey on sexual hang-ups in marriage, where your sexual situation can be described anonymously to me. But be sure to give me enough background information to address it properly. Thanks!
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