My husband controls me and I DEMAND RESPECT!
Dear Alison and Tony (or Leather and Lace): No one is perfect, but my husband of three years never asks my opinion on anything. Jack just makes up his mind what he wants to do (or wants us to do) and then tells me about it. I have learned that if I don’t want a huge fight, the only appropriate response that I’m able to give is “Ok.” Naturally, I do NOT think it’s ok. In the beginning I just went along with Jack to keep things happy at home, but not being able to express my opinions makes me believe that my feelings don’t matter to him at all. When I say: “Why didn’t you consult me?” Jack usually says something like” “W’ell, I’m telling you now” or “This is not helping our relationship.” I have to sit quietly and suffer in frustration or endure an angry scene from which I almost always end up backing down anyway. I feel like he should ask my opinion. Even if he said “what do you think?” or “How do you feel about this?” or even ‘If you don’t mind” would make me feel like he was considering my feelings and needs. Is that unreasonable? I love my husband and he does make good decisions for the most part. In fact, I’d even feel comfortable letting him make the final decision on many things, as long as he made me feel as though I was part of the decision-making team. But he never includes or asks, he just tells. That is not a partnership. Can you suggest ways to get him to include me in the decision making process instead of just being “told” what we’re going to do, like I’m a minor child? My husband just doesn’t see anything wrong with “the man” making all the decisions, but this is killing our relationship and my good feelings for him. I don’t think he realizes it. Signed (and sighing…Natalie)
- Tony’s Take: I can explain this man to you but I’m not sure that there is any easy mechanism for correcting your problems.There is a problem with anyone who has enough brains to feel that they know more about most situations than other people. The problem is that they stop respecting other people and their opinions, unless this person can and wants to demonstrate that the person is an idiot and better listen from people who actually do know things. The person you are married to does not respect your opinion and does not respect that your needs and desires are different from his or his perception of yours. You might have better developed this relationship by objecting earlier and with more feeling to force him to consider yourself as an individual and an important contributor to the relationship. With your acceptance of the status quo you have confirmed to him that he is better than you are about making decisions about your life. Sadly, this will come out of you as resentment and will probably lead to sexual problems since it is hard to be intimate with someone you resent. In the past, depending upon circumstance, I have suggested both individual and couples counseling but frankly, he has been in this mode of behavior for so long that the process of correcting it in him will lead to resentment of you and the collapse of the relationship. For your own self worth and mental stability you have to set new rules for the relationship. But if he is unwilling to see this as an issue, you will not be able to secure the changes you need to be happy in the long term unless you are prepared to settle for a slightly abusive relationship.
- Alison’s Take: Controlling men can really put stress on a relationship. In this situation, there is little that I can add to Tony’s view as I agree with it completely. The problem begins at the beginning of a relationship. You establish patterns of behavior –what you will and will not accept. Once these patterns are set, it is very difficult to change them. Your major mistake was to allow Jack to get his way all the time to keep “the peace.” By doing so, you gave him the impression that it was not just ok for him to make all the decisions, but that it was his role and duty to do so. Now, years later, you are discovering this doesn’t work so well for you, and you want to change it, leaving him angry and confused, and you frustrated and upset. Alas, change things you must (or at lest modify them) or you will end up splitting up, because his control has gotten out of hand.Despite Jack’s tendency to want to control everything in your lives, this pattern might be modified with the assistance of an empathetic third party such as a good counselor. S/he might help Jack see that he is not responsible nor required, nor requested, to make all the decisions in your marriage. If your relationship was along the lines of “50 Shades of Gray” in was a 24/7 BDSM dynamic, Jack might consider what he is doing as a “Dom” to be a total power exchange where you have willingly given up your power and decision-making to him. But that is not what you have said has been negotiated. If you didn’t want to give up your decision making to Jack, now all you can do is try to change the dynamic, or suffer under the tight bonds of a husband who won’t give you the respect you deserve to help make decisions about important things that impact your life.That said, if your life with Jack is otherwise a good one, don’t give up! Get help and try to modify the way the two of you work together as a team. If that is impossible, then you might just have to make the biggest single decision of your life, and that would be, to leave.