The Controller Love Style And FMTM Linkup

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 . . .

[Tweet ” Parents in these kinds of families don’t relieve stress. They create it! #toxicparents”]

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!*

[Tweet “Christian bloggers, come join us at the “From Messes to Messages” Linkup! #MessyMarriage”]


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!

I also linkup at Christian Blogger Community, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Testimony Tuesday, Coffee and Conversation, Coffee for Your Heart, Sitting Among Friends, Nanahood, Moments of Hope, Fresh Market Friday, DanceWithJesusFriday and LifeGivingLinkup.

Let’s Get this ‘From Messes to Messages’ Linkup Started!
Add any links that are uplifting, helpful and encouraging to our spiritual lives, marriages and families! Be sure to add a link on your blog back to “From Messes to Messages” or Messy Marriage as well. For linkup guidelines/button, click here.

Messy Marriage


14 responses to “The Controller Love Style And FMTM Linkup”

  1. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser Avatar
    Andrew Budek-Schmeisser

    Great and very important post, Beth…especially the advice to get ahold of a Christian counselor. You’re so right – the kind of background you describe can’t be handled without a professional.

    I know, because it touches the surface of what I went through. Oddly enough, I didn’t become either a controller or a victim; I merely became very self-contained and watchful. But I can sure see how a descent into anger and relational violence is possible.

    What saved me was a spiritual adoption by an Orthodox Jewish family – they also tried to adopt me officially but back then the powers that be felt that a child was nest off with the original family, however awful.

    These wonderful people made me a part of their observant life, and a lot of this has stayed with me, to the point of having a mezzuzah on the front doorframe. They showed me a better way to be a family, and a robust way to address the Almighty. They gave me the power to resist the evil that was in my life, and I’m forever grateful.

    Suggestions for a controller? Sure, here are a few –

    1) Avoid alcohol and ‘recreational’ drugs, and be very cautious with prescription drugs as many do have psychotropic effects.

    2) Avoid triggers, like political discussions. One thing that I’ve noticed in controllers is that they’ll use controversial topics to bait someone into an argument to which they can then respond in what they consider justifiable anger. Steering clear of the temptation can help, but it’s probably really hard.

    3) Have an accountability partner who’s willing to listen in a non-judgemental way. Look under ‘saint’ in the Yellow pages. It’s a tough role to take on.

    4) Don’t have easy access to firearms (or edged weapons). Obviously.

    The main thing is that the controller has to want to change, and, sadly, many find their meaning and definition in their anger.

    We’re wishing you and yours the best for a wonderful Thanksgiving!


    1. Brother, we have a Mezzuzah on our door frame too. Of course!


      1. And we use a menorah for our Christmas celebration, Susan and Andrew. We light one candle each night and read one passage related to the telling of Christ’s birth–including situations leading up to and following His birth. I have a lot of regard for God’s chosen people and am grateful that the Lord opened the door for us all to be His chosen people!


    2. You’ve probably become something of a controller of yourself and your emotions–going the opposite direction of most true “Controllers” it sounds like, Andrew. I’m so glad that God allowed you to be touched and influenced by that family. I’m sure in many ways they did save your sanity and humanity.

      Thanks for those great suggestions. I think they are very helpful and true. It’s always best to remove any kind of weapon, though for some Controllers, sadly, they can always use their fists.

      I hope you have a great Thanksgiving and am praying you feel God’s healing comfort and touch all throughout.


  2. Seeing we are headed to my daughter’s this afternoon for the big day – and my son in love is exactly, word for word, as described in the Controller’s job description above. The one paragraph left out? How does the mom-in-law keep her big mouth closed? 😉 Thanksgiving blessings, Beth, to you and yours!


    1. Oh my! That’s got to be so hard to keep your mouth shut and not try to intervene, Susan. I’ll pray for you in this and especially for your daughter. I ought to do a series sometime on the challenges of being an In-law (from both the parent and adult-child perspectives). Thanks for stopping by and Happy Thanksgiving to you too, my friend!


  3. This is such an interesting topic, Beth. And I’m glad to see your reference to the Domestic Violence hotline. So important. We cannot minimize or ignore the real threat of domestic abuse. Thank you for always jumping in to tackle such tough subjects! Have a wonderful Thanksgiving.


    1. I’m glad you think so, Mary. It’s one that I’m not all that knowledgeable in, but Leslie Vernick has some really great resources on the emotionally destructive spouse. But I certainly wanted to include the hotline number, because this problem is a lot more prevalent than we would ever imagine! Thanks for stopping in and encouraging me, my friend! I hope you and your family have a great Thanksgiving!


  4. I grew up in a home filled with controllers, and by the grace of God and the love of Christ Jesus I am NOT that messed up. Ok, I’m totally messed up. But in my depravity, not as a result of the nuttiness and abuse from the past. I know people who have not been as fortunate to be set free from their childhood trauma, and we see evidence of this even in the church through our mentoring, but praise God that we have a great Healer and Lord Almighty who can set that controller FREE! I pray that if there are any victims of controllers reading this post they seek the help you encourage them to get. So important to find a safe place to turn to in these situations. Bless your heart friend for caring and sharing all your years of professional experience and knowledge so freely here with those who need it. Happy Thanksgiving my friend. May your turkey be moist and your shingles 100% gone! xoxo


    1. Yes, God does some amazing healing in those who surrender their hearts to Him, Nicki. I’m so glad that you found His grace and healing. I wouldn’t have ever guessed that about you. You seem so healthy and wise. But I’m sure that God is using that healing and wisdom in you to help so many that you and your hubby mentor, because it’s just so sadly prevalent in our society. And with the shame and fear of living in that kind of situation, it’s easy for it to remain “underground” in a family. Thanks for your kind words to me and I hope your turkey is equally moist this Thanksgiving! ha! And the shingles are still hanging out like an unwanted relative in my spare bedroom, but it gets me in the mood for the movie Christmas Vacation! 😉


      1. You have shingles? Ugh, you poor thing. I’ve heard it’s very painful, and often brought on by stress…hmmmm…feel better my friend!


  5. I’ve worked with some who are Controllers, especially when I was a counselor, Gayl. Now with my coaching I don’t see it as much. But it’s always a very uncomfortable encounter and it’s one of the reasons I shifted from counseling to coaching. Thanks for stopping in and encouraging me. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family too!


  6. Hi Beth,
    This “type” reminds me so much of my daughter. Because of her early years of abuse and neglect in an orphanage, she now functions in a world of control. Control is her security. Those with control issues inevitably have trust issues. I pray someday trust will grow within her and those wirings in her brain will heal.
    Blessings, my friend! I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!!


  7. […] that it’s essentially a result of growing up in a chaotic and often abusive family (like the Controller I spoke about last […]


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