Marriage of dual control freaks grows rocky

  • Wednesday, January 30, 2013

“Back in the saddle again”, (figuratively and literally) in beautiful Charleston after a week-long grandma visit with my daughter and Denver “Grand girls.” Between Roller derby, Ninjitsu, piano lessons and school - it was awesome to be in their world for a while, albeit short. I couldn’t help but weep a little in the carpool drop off lane at school as I dispelled my last minute grandma wisdom upon these beautiful talented 6 and 9 year old gals. I am big about good and positive goodbyes, be it in my described case as well as in the daily hum-drum “goodbyes” we casually say. I believe in the same philosophy for “good nights” as well. I have said this time and again in my columns, after working with families and individuals with loss.  The regrets can eat you alive. Make the most of each day. No one ever regrets being more loving and patient.

Dear Liz,

My husband says I am very controlling, and I say he is. We’ve been married for 12 years with two children. We basically do pretty well. I don’t want to be that way, but I think it happens when I want things a certain way. I think he is controlling when he refuses a simple request or orders me around during an outing. Help.

“Knocking Heads”

Dear “Knocking,”

Thank you for your candor. First I’d like to recommend communication 101. I would prefer if you and your husband would express your feelings (or opinion) this way: “I am feeling very controlled right now. Would you please consider approaching me/this situation another way?” We kill closeness in a relationship when we come across as accusatory or diagnostic.

The next line of communication would be “I’m sorry I am coming across that way. (Then get in touch with what is driving the anxiety, anger, frustration, fear) and perhaps add, “I guess I am feeling stressed about getting to (blank) on time, would you be willing to help in (blank) way, please?” (Add sweetheart or other term of endearment.) We all must learn to recognize what we are really feeling and that feeling comes from thoughts such as: “I wish you would get your lazy behind off the couch and come help me. I do all the work getting the kids ready around here.” That “stinkin’thinkin’” creates in us the feelings that lead to the expression of the emotion, often in non-productive ways.

If this battle continues, please seek some short term marriage counseling with a licensed counselor.

It is amazing how quickly this can be resolved. You may want to also check your personality temperaments on-line. Whatever you do, avoid using the descriptions “against” the other person. (There is no wrong answer, or more or less valuable personality type.) It is for understanding yourself and the other person better. Here’s the link: http://www.humanmetrics.com/cgi-

(Please send your questions and comments to asksharpliz@gmail.com. Liz Brisacher Sharp is a Masters level Licensed Professional Counselor in private practice with 35 years experience in mental health including serving as a school counselor, and as a consultant and mediator. Liz is known for her many years as a TV news and weather broadcaster and long-time columnist for the Lowcountry Sun.)

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