5 Ways Your Spouse Can Control You

I’m beginning a new series on Sundays that will unpack five ways that we are prone to let our spouses control us. FYI … I’ll still be posting videos on upcoming Sundays, just not as often. 

If you’ve been married for any length of time, it is so easy to fall into these five unhealthy patterns in marriage. It typically happens when we’ve become dependent on or reactive to what our spouse does, thinks, or feels. In an effort to fix, resist or avoid our spouse, we end up “reacting” to them in some area of our relating.

This unhealthy reaction on our part is triggered by the relational tension we feel in our marriages. Often if we are “reacting” instead of responding “proactively” with forethought and personal conviction, we are doing so because of long-standing dysfunctions, traumas or losses from our past. We become compelled to do something of a dysfunctional dance with our partners—always seeking to find a way out of that dance by repeating the same steps that we’ve practiced and rehearsed for years. #insanity

The answer lies in breaking free from these patterns that have become so ingrained. And that realization and freedom is ignited by admitting to yourself, God, and your mate that you are allowing yourself to be controlled by your mate’s attitude &/or actions.

What are the five ways we let our spouses control us?

  1. Over-correcting the harsh or passive parenting of a spouse. #confusethechild
  2. Viewing yourself as a victim that is trapped in your marriage because your spouse won’t change or engage in a positive way.
  3. Choosing to have an affair or to look at pornography (same difference) because you believe you’ve been deprived of “whatever” in your marriage.
  4. Becoming a “fixer” or “enabler” because your spouse won’t do his/her part.
  5. Resisting spiritual pursuits because your spouse is cramming them down your throat.

I’ll be unpacking and discussing each of these five one by one in this series—including pointing out the ones I’ve done over the years. Yep! It’s what has kept the “messy” in my marriage, for sure!

I hope to have a video up next Sunday, but if I don’t I will be posting on “Overcorrecting the harsh or passive parenting of a spouse” next.

I hope you’ll join me either way! 🙂

What are some other ways that a spouse can control us?


Which of these five unhealthy patterns have you struggled with the most, and why?


I want to give a shout-out to my friend, Nancy Rogers, for letting me use this photo of her dancing, and might I add, NOT dancing dysfunctionally! 😉

12 responses to “5 Ways Your Spouse Can Control You”

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great post, Beth!

    One I might add – though I am not sure of its relevance – is “but THIS is my family’s way of doing things!” It shifts responsibility from oneself to a larger entity, and the patterns contained therein might not be healthy for the marriage. Does this make sense?



    1. Yes, it does, Andrew. So many times one spouse may have rigid standards that he/she imposes on others and especially a mate. When that happens, it really oppresses the marriage relationship. Thanks for adding your thoughts to the discussion, my friend. Hope you are having as good of a day as possible.


  2. Beth … this is a rich feast. I’ll be coming back later to savor your words. I’m always gleaning wealth from your wisdom and personal experience. Thanks for being vulnerable and real, even as you offer professional level counsel.

    I’m so blessed you’re in my life … for lots of reasons.


    1. Thank you so much, Linda. You are quite the encourager, my friend! I’ve been wanting to get to this series for awhile. I can’t wait to unpack it and share from my own bouts with “controlling” the hubster. 😉 Love ya!


  3. Isn’t it sad that when we react in those ways, it has the opposite effect from what we want! Then we only fight harder with the same bad habits! Thanks for linking up at Mondays @ Soul Survival! Blessings!


    1. Oh yes! And often we don’t see that we are letting our spouse control us. We think we are making clear-cut choices out of our own volition, when nothing could be further from the truth. Thanks for coming by and encouraging me, Donna!


  4. These sound amazing and so helpful at warding off problems — hopefully before irreparable damage is done to the trust factor! I’ll be watching for more!


    1. I do hope that people will relate to at least one or two–although that’s not something I hope is present in their lives and marriages, Michele! But I do think we all can relate in one way or another. It’s our nature to look for an “idol” of sorts, but what a mess we make of things when we turn to any other god than our God! Thanks for your encouragement, my friend!


  5. This is a great list and one that I know you will do a wonderful job of unpacking. Thank you for always providing such an open and safe place for these important discussions. Hope your weekend was blessed.


    1. Thanks so much, Mary! I always appreciate your support and friendship. I hope this is a safe place. That’s what I’m aiming for! 😉 Hugs to you!


  6. Beth, I am so glad you’re “going there!” These are the sorts of things almost every married person struggles with to some extent…and they can truly be enslaving if left undealt with.

    I’m reminded of a saying I learned years ago from a counselor, “Only you are responsible for your actions.”

    Looking forward to reading your posts in this series!


  7. I am really looking forward to reading these. I know a couple of these I really find myself entangled in. Can’t wait!


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