Living with a too controlling partner? Want a solution?

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Tired of living with a controlling partner?

This morning a delightful young woman taking care of my broken cell phone confided that she was going through a rough patch, "with my fiancee controlling everything I do...he accuses me of infidelity each time I need to leave for work...and he knows we need my income!"

Admiring her kind and patient attitude, I was not surprised by her confidence. She was reflecting about her conflict at home, while asking herself what was she doing wrong at home that would get him so insecure.

At that time, I switched from cellular phone client to impromptu coach, and told her briefly about attachments. More or less, she needed to know the basics of this psychological theory, so I began following Lisa Firestone's clear explanation:

"Our style of attachment affects everything from our partner selection to how well our relationships progress to, sadly, how they end. That is why recognizing your attachment pattern can help you understand your strengths and vulnerabilities in a relationship. An attachment pattern is established in early childhood attachments and continues to function as a working model for relationships in adulthood."

Having established the first point I wanted to make with her, I said: "this conflict has nothing to do with you, and a lot to do with his attachment style built in his past. He had those abandonment fears way before he met you...and now he confuses you with his abandoning mother!"

Now, I had her really interested...we were still at the counter, holding my dead phone in  her hands, but her attention was on my words:

"He could have developed instead, if being raised with a different family, a secure attachment pattern, making him confident and self-possessed and ready to interact and trust others, like you, his wife. He would be then ready to find ways of making you two happy. However, if he had an anxious or insecure attachment pattern, he would be reenacting this insecurity with any actual partner just now, tragically recreating more abandonment and loneliness.

In your case, I said to this young lady, "if he has a working model of anxious/preoccupied attachment, he will feel that in order to get close to you and have his needs for company met, he has to be with you all the time... and get reassured that he is not left alone....The cruel thing is that we are all grown ups and you need to leave him and go to work!

I could see her eyes opening up, in shock: "that is exactly right! I feel as if I have two babies to take care of...sometimes he makes me feel so bad when leaving the house...that I cry my way to this store..."

At that moment, I had to agree with her: "Well, there is not much more to say if you feel so, because he is rightly feeling like an abandoned baby when you have to leave him to go to work...what can you do now?"

I then followed up with three practical actions she could do immediately to train her husband in trusting her. Marriage is a good school, if you have a willing partner, to learn how to develop secure attachments and use them to replace the memories of the past. It's not easy if you have no idea of how attachments are formed, and how they work here and now in your marriage.

If you get this key about "controlling partner acting out of fear" pattern, know how not to take this kind of insecurity personally, and do certain actions to help him feel secure, (to be described in next post) it will be soon that he will recognize you are his partner, and now his mother! now you can have a more satisfactory and fun marriage! Of course, if you want solutions now, you can schedule your free coaching session with Coach Nora now!)

  1. sandra cornmell, 20 June, 2016

    I’m currently in my third PA relationship. My first marriage (2 children) was of 7 years. My second marriage (further child) was of 26 years although I left after 13 years but stupidly returned thinking I could not handle being on my own. My third relationship (not married) has lasted 5 years and I think he is the worst one of all! He is Louder than the other two and throws tantrums even though he is 63 years old! I never know what may set him off. We can be out shopping and he gives mixed messages that I obviously do not understand and then he tantrums and apparently I should know what he was thinking even though when I have asked a question I get a non responsive answer back! He acts just like a child… His behaviour is really intollerable and I can’t take anymore…. I am stuck once again in a horrible relationship. I am 60 years old now and my income is not stable enough for me to just move out. I have a lovely family two daughters and a son and grandchildren. I feel a complete failure though as I ve lost practically everything I ever owned. Ironically I am a counsellor and I help a lot of people, I particularly give my clients the details of this site as I can clearly see that they too are in PA relationships. I can’t help myself though!!!!! Its really hard when you are IN IT… sucked in …. If I was more financially stable I would leave today but I’m not. i’ve tried different approaches to his behaviour but it seems that when one method works and provides relief for both of us, he materialises a new strategy of conflict, a new approach that throws me once again off balance. I do stay calm now as I have worked very hard on myself but I still feel the horrible stressful feelings and I have to endure this two or three times a week (other times he can be fairly ‘normal and friendly’ or subdued or quiet or miserable.. his moods are numerable) He is very controlling and he holds the main strings to the income as he is the main breadwinner. He attempts to control me too, but he is unable to do this effectively as I am a strong character and use different strategies to counteract his controlling and negative behaviour. It is really hard work.. and its draining… very draining… day in and day out never knowing what he is going to be like… . harder work than working with any of my client’s with their problems. I have to force myself to do other things, go out , see family so that I am not absorbed by thoughts of HIM which I am sure is what he wants me to do. Please help

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