Why is control at the root of most conflicts? Probably because most humans have an instinctive need for control. We exert our need for control in many different ways, but the desire to shape our environment and the people around us is infectious in society today. Many have assumed that control is associated with power and success. I counsel couples everyday that are in conflict with each other over control. In some cases people control through aggression, manipulation, withholding, passive-aggressiveness, abuse, and/or caretaking others. The reality is that control creates resentment, fear, anger, and disconnectedness. Nobody likes to be told what to do or how to do it. Couples that are in a parent-child marriage are in constant battle over control. The “parent” spouse attempts to control through nagging, micromanaging, and demeaning while the “child” partner controls through defiance, acting out, and avoidance. This dynamic in a marriage perpetuates conflict, turmoil, and disconnection. A healthy marriage is where both parties are equals and assume full responsibility for their own feelings, thoughts, and actions. Can you learn to share control and responsibility? It may require you to figure out your own fears and insecurities that drive your need for control. Some of my patients struggle with mistrust, emotional pain, and trauma from the past that fuels their need for control. Regardless of the motivator, there are ways to learn how to let go of control. Next week I will cover the benefits of relinquishing control and ways to release the drive that consumes so many people. Control is an illusion. Learn next week how the paradox of control can create change.
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