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How to Deal With a Controlling Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
April 1, 2022 6:00 am

How to Deal With a Controlling Spouse

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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April 1, 2022 6:00 am

In this broadcast, Psychologist Dr. Ron Welch and his wife, Jan, describe how too much control can damage a marriage and family. Their message illustrates how placing your partner's feelings before your own can help you avoid tremendous heartache in your relationship.

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You feel called to serve God in your career. Check out some of the exciting job opportunities. We had a Focus on the Family looking to fill positions in marketing IT and marriage counseling work with other talented believers enjoy meaningful Christ centered work environment and use the skills God gave you to encourage others and help families thrive. To learn more visit that's Focus on the he stifling. He can't live this way anymore no matter what I do it's never good enough for is a loving husband and dad, well, as long as we do everything his way those comments reflect really significant problem in marriages today when a husband or wife is controlling their spouse and unhealthy ways today on Focus on the Family with Jim Daly were to be examining the problems of too much control and marriage and couples can find better more godly ways to support each other and interact with each other. Thanks for joining us today.

I'm John Fuller, John.

I'm sure the people here about this topic and they immediately think of that stereotype. You know the loud abusive husband who's a steamroller in his marriage maybe always angry, always barking orders certainly thinking the world revolves around him and if you're saying wow that's cutting pretty close to home. I think today's program will be for you and to be honest there some truth to that some men will intimidate their wives through anger abuse both verbally and physically. And if that's your spouse. I want to urge you to get to a safe place were talking about nonviolent control. Today, not where there's abuse in the relationship and in the physical form and we've got to make sure that you hear me clearly that if you're in that situation. Get help. Call focus.

I will get you pointed in the direction you can go. But today, it'll be the hope of your marriage in the future. Being better than it is today when your husband is controlling, angry, manipulative, yeah. And sometimes it's kind of subtle in the way it plays out.

But it's Felton, the spouse feels frustrated and powerless and come alone in the marriage. So as you clarified you and this is not abuse in the traditional sense. It might be married to perfectionist to has to have things a certain way and there's a lot of anxiety in that kind of a home and that's will be addressing today. That's exactly right. And we have two great folks joining us who've been here before. Dr. Ron Welch and his wife Jan Ron is a clinical psychologist who also serves as a professor at Denver seminary and Jan is a special needs teacher and tutor around and Jan, let me say welcome back to Focus on the Family think it's great to be here you've written this great book the controlling husband. It's a hard subject, though I know working to get in your background and I appreciate the vulnerability in which you approach the subject because it's to help people.

Let me ask you for the men listening or the wives who are married to men like you were and that controlling narcissistic temperament.

What is going on in your head. I mean, was this a place that you felt through control. You could feel better about yourself. I mean, I'm not even sure had asked that question. What were you feeling being controlling trying my best to not be out-of-control if that makes sense because you feared it or what because I grew up in a family where my mom got bless her, she was a wonderful woman but the glass wasn't just half-full. It was draining rapidly and you could see the bad things coming around the corner and she taught me to prepare for those so I became very anxious very nervous and the control allowed me to try to prevent bad things from happening. They got understand this when I was entrusting other people. It entrusts God. I needed to make sure things were okay and so in my marriage in my relationships in my work early in my life is work in the federal prison system. So, I was aware of what dominant males look like and I wasn't that guy was in the guy who enjoyed hurting women. I never have been and it never hurt Jan physically in any way but man I wanted to have things go the way I wanted them to go because I was scared to death what would happen if I didn't have control. That's really fast think is when you look at the culture today and if what I'm hearing you say is fear of having things in order. The way you wanted them drove you to that kind of compulsive behavior. Controlling behavior when you look at the amount of fear and the culture today. Wow, how many people are moving in that direction out of a protection modality to want to or need to control their environment and how many areas only areas of your life. Can you not control your bosses to tell you what to do. The government or the laws and the restrictions in certain areas will tell you what to do other pandemic because it is like go here wear a mask you do that and then suddenly you're in this relationship where it's like oh she scared me and she'll do what I say and that is easier and then suddenly that selfish internal pride kicks in and maybe some people listening don't quite understand that, or that is in feel like who they are, but there's a lot of ways people control mine was manipulation and intimidation that look like this so we can get a picture of it.

So here's the kind of situation. When I would ask her what she wanted for dinner. I wasn't really asking what you wanted for dinner. I wanted to start a conversation about barbecue so that I could help her understand why barbecue is the right thing. After dinner, that sounds pretty manipulative right because sounds exhausting it is and I'm sure it was just terribly frustrating knowing she knew what I was doing, but her story is that she was okay with that one long that sounds already since. I think that check now. If I were tells what I wanted.

It would be miserable because you would go there and your partner would be like.

This service is horrible this food is just so you start learning if I have a choice I don't really have a choice. So I get will it makes it awful for you because you chose this place and they're complaining the whole time.

So I went to put yourself through that again. So that's guilt.

Now they start loading the deal. Why did you pick this place.

The Sanders is terrible, so sterile, you will learn after the first time I'm not connectives because I choose wrong then I'm gonna Jan, I do want to come back to your romance, your meeting Ron and it was a whirlwind experiencing a man in some ways were there red flags or did you just blow by them and describe your courtship and how long it lasted well within the first four days we were looking at writing rings on the think the fifth day. Guess) sets pretty fast.

Anybody in your sphere say Jan you may want to slow this down, but not really because my family is in Texas and we didn't have cell phones in this kind of communicative things, but we were in a class at DU and we did a project together. Next thing I know we are going out and by the time we came back to that once a week class. We were engaged. Yes, that was fast as he fear this is an example of one of those warning signs. She had been flirting with me during class.

So I said well I need to get those points back.

I was taking them points will she was flirting and I said you know if we go out. That'll get the points back but I went out to the hallway and asked her for 1/4 inches like what he knew court was taught quarters and phones but I like to call somebody if I was to go out with her on Thursday. I had to move the girl that already had to another days I was trying to call that girl to move that with her corridor with her and there so I don't look real good story, but that would be a red flag to say wait a second. You know, and she looked up at me because going to move you that the girl in line was busy.

I never originally found and I was asking who you calling and it was Tuesday silly dollar night back that and and he told me night and then I looked up and I like movies and was never been a part. Oh my goodness, when you state is very nice fast lane and that really outdid of the flipside of that that isn't the good part is that I was so anxious to get married because I knew if she got to know me. There was no chance of her mirroring and I say that with honesty, I just, I knew is what the longer it took.

She was in to see how poor a husband choice.

I was and she wouldn't let me. And so I I wish there was a different story to that, but I was just so it's important to continue your story. Obviously, I do want to get to some of the concepts in the bushes and will pick up you know, kind of where you went as a couple but you Ron describe in your book the controlling husband how men tend to be like wolves speak to that.

I mean, obviously there's things in nature that we can identify with. But what were you getting it. What were off is right is theirs.

From the day one. It's in T-ball. We have competitive teams and people are being like drafted at age 10 and baseball teams you know and and you have violence, strong aggressive physical behavior leads you to be the best player in the team or whatever in work environments. It's the person who takes the initiative and does well that gets rewarded with the promotions in church organizations. If you're active in your out there and you getting things done than your scene is a is a godly man whose moving things forward.

But that's the exact opposite of the kind of selfless. Other focus man. God calls us to be and so the wolf is the idea that you're going to try to be in charge and in control because that's what society teaches you need to be.

Unfortunately, I don't think our societal structures are bringing men up very well. And honestly I'm not sure in many ways that the church is not participating in some of those structures. Yeah, we want to explore those things, but you also you do talk about this idea that some women can also dominate and control and I want to make sure that people here that were not man bashing. The point is, here's the point.

There's no bashing of anything. It's just the idea of what is crippling you in your marriage. That's the concept here.

How can you do better if you claim Christ as your Savior work. We must do better and we gotta grow every day and I that's one area reading your book. I'm so proud of the two of you. You didn't give up on your marriage Fighting even though it took years. I just think you speak to the idea that some women, too, can be those manipulators those controllers is not one gender only area. Sure, it's personality style right I mean it.

All of us have different ways that we can control some people do it.

Possibly some people do it very in the front door, knocked on the front door, but there's a number of ways people can control. In some cases. In my practice over the years I've seen every imaginable type of control from people, withholding sexual interactions to people refusing to talk giving the silent treatment. There's lots of ways that you can be the dominant partner, regardless what gender you let me assess those a clarifying point. Are there some things that you should control for good reasons and godly reasons.

I mean, I would think that you just can't be that the people walk on, you know, there's that whole learned helplessness concept. Jan I talked about this a lot where I've tried rocking the boat and is not working so in the areas where you feel it's part of the principal and character of who you are. Those areas, you should control if you want to be a provider in the household is a man then you should work your tail off at work and provide and do a really good job is as God expects you to do. But if that's can mean you're working 80 hours and you're not home for your family and you never around when you are.

Your attitude and your countenance is mean and frustrated and tired the man you got a look yourself in the mirror and say is this job worth it the way I am. That's not okay. Went deer in a controlling relationship. It starts off very slowly as it moves on your's kind of used to it and you get smaller and smaller and it's just okay this is the way I life is gonna go not banging you on the head and then taking control, like a caveman in our relationship is gradually like giving up friends isolation. Those are some of the earlier signs.

I think him to be aware I become that doormat that Jim was talking about pretty much yeah I mean it was more fear as well because if I didn't do something the right way and he get upset and I didn't want them to get upset say try and do everything he can so he doesn't get upset Jan how how long was that struggle though.

How many years did you really disagree. Mine is longer than give you the benefit of what you're going to say 1616 years, if not a few years my right eye so I need to ask a question that some women who might be living with that kind husband is saying right now there may be even contemplating divorcing. And they're saying to you.

I can't believe it Jan, why would you do that for 16 years because they're not always that way.

There's so many wonderful great pilots and glimpses of hope yes that was my kind of motto. If you had to say anything help hope and faith for my motto. I really believe that put us in this relationship for reason and maybe it wasn't perfect.

Now that my kids were happy and from a divorced family that was not an option and I would've that I mean I wasn't happy fairly long time but as long as this people around me were happy.

I was willing to was a sacrifice. But I was okay with that. Is there something there. Rhonda and I would I mean is clinically when you have a woman who's willing to absorb a lot and spiritually. It's angelic. I mean, you're taking all this but is there a line where a person needs to advocate for themselves then and not just roll over hoping that you might send a morsel her way… This hard to hear her talk because I think about the number of years that I put her through that is my largest regret of anything in my life. But the reality is that she was used to that from some pretty controlling strong father figure images and interactions, and from my perspective as a therapist I look at that and I say there is going to be a point where you may be the last person to see it because it feels so familiar. And even if it's not healthy. It fails, like what you know that's to your conditioning point moment it is and so I think that's where if I had been living my life the way God called me to be. I would be that partner that's trying to help bring her closer to God and build her up and I would've been saying all this is not okay. Look at how she's feeling.

Look how miserable she is. I wasn't mature enough and I was still very very unable to deal with my own needs alone take care of her will for talking about something that's coming close to home, then please know that Focus on the Family is here to help.

We have caring Christian counselors how we'd be very happy to set up a time for you to have a consultation with them are numbers 880 family or click the link in the episode notes for more details. Ron, I'm sure some people are still struggling to understand in a what are the descriptors for me because you don't know you're doing it necessarily you feel comfortable controlling because it's reducing the fear level and you what were some of those indicators again. That really began you even begin to notice what was true and what was false. Think one of the best indicators is how are decisions made when something comes up in a discussion who wins is it a win lose situation or do you really try to find door number three and come up with an awesome compromise or is it yeah I need to prove my point and any time a guy or even a woman, whoever's controlling the relationship feels like I'm trying to win the battle when you get a check yourself is that's a huge warning sign.

Another is if the partner comes away from the conversation less than were belittled or depressed or sad.

You got a look yourself and say okay so the sum total of that conversation with my wife feels like I don't lover. Well that didn't work it out so you know is some of the signals can come up in really different ways. There is a humorous story in your book or you talked about moving to Colorado and I think your son who is really young at the time three or so you had which I actually thought what a brilliant system you had all your moving boxes and you put stick colored stickers for each room right kitchen, bedroom, living room, by the way, way to go at your three-year-old son had a different plan for that right would have. Yes it was hilarious. We actually IT systems with double double code and sell my three-year-old was following him and I was watching and he was taking. He put them on to take him off he put them on himself but on another box.

Ron didn't know you house and then he came back. There is like in Brandon comes around the corner.daddy breve and that's a great way written by Brandon, but that is also a subtle way to see where you're at and what's happening in your life. Think of the opportunity to be a joyful participant in this wonderful family experience.

How did you respond I was a jerk.

I was angry and I was intense and I was mad at Jan for laughing at why are you a course at up when she was so far into hilarity. She couldn't stop but II just I look back and I think in this was not a single episode. This is the kind of way I reacted because it threatened my control and that's just sad.

In retrospect, well yeah, but these are the signals that need to wake us up to these triggers that are going on Jan when you're growing up you had an experience I think your parents gave you a doll. He asked me to place another doll.

Yes, I'll write about.

It had a Raggedy Ann day and it was a musical one week item on your feet and dance with him and tile for my six or something birthday get a bigger Raggedy Ann day and unfortunately they didn't tell me they were taking the other one and giving it to family, which is fine now but that age. He didn't want that will affect you looked around to introduce the two and he was gone and which is your best friend when I was a child and eventually I did find it my father's closet and what my mother and she said our giving them away so she let me have one more last dance with him and as a five, six child. I still remember that and so on, learned really young, that sometimes things change and you don't have control Jan let me dig in a bit on your side of the story and I want to hear the emotion of what you're going through the rationalization help us better understand that because I just want know your heart better that way.

You have such tenderness think you and your you know you're wanting and this is so true of women that I have found this early. My wife is this person there's so concerned about everybody around the fact that they're willing to sacrifice themselves. They're willing to sacrifice their joy their happiness for others because they have this innate desire to do so.

I think it's you know that mothering instinct right I probably did it, but yeah, yeah. So how are you managing all that emotion in my in a good place because I'm giving of myself, Lord, are you happy with me because I'm acting in a selfless way.

There's a lot of spiritual messiness in this, I think so as well.

I've had kind of a challenging relationship with God because I am. I didn't feel worthy and so why would God let me when I don't like them lovable and so I think part of that was by trying to give so much that maybe I would become something lovable and when you're in a really fast, like, but I bet a lot of women are motivated in that way. Yes, you want to help others and I think that whether your man or woman and I didn't understand a lot behind his controlling, but I was so in love with him that if I could do things that would make his life better and therefore I wouldn't have to have the fear or that being is usually somebody in a relationship that brings up conflict.

I am not that person Ryman bury my head in the sand. I don't want to see and I don't want to knowledge and just get along and he was more like something wasn't working. He would have no problem bringing up things and I'm like this, so I think part of it was trying to live look at those times if I could just get everything done right the first time and when you have children you want them to be happy.

So it's very easy to put your spouse and your children, your community, your church ahead of things and I was okay with that. Well, I'm not. Yeah, it is unwise not not a good thing.

It's the source. It sounds like the source from which that comes from sac if it's low self-esteem I can become more worthy because I can do these things. That's unhealthy.

And if you're doing it in a healthy fashion is because God calls me to do these things sacrificially and you are then willing and giving out of that. That's a healthier perspective, we are right near the end here and I do want to get into the healing perspective. I mean, again, 16 years okay Ron how long did you think it's like 45 know she's right. I mean, it took a long, long time because each time I started to think I remember very clearly a point where I saw my son starting to talk to her the way I did, and telling her why weren't you here at this time and I give the dad talk about you know don't talk to mother that way and God just slapped me across the face and said he thinks teaching these principles to your sons. I thought about generational sin, and I thought about you know how many how many further generations of our family are going to treat women that way. And at that point I started realizing that I was so out of line with where God wanted me to be but that wasn't just about my relationship with Janet was my relationship with other people with God. I just wanted so badly to be in the driver seat so headed that you look at that. Some people even in their salvation with Jesus. It's a moment they could point to it they can tell you the time and with others. It's almost like a rolling situation where it was drops of water over a long period of time that then on one day boom that made sense to me and I gave my life to the Lord. I would think even in the cleansing of our bad habits.

It's very similar. Some people will have an epiphany.

I've heard of people alcoholics. It just gave it up in one day it was done and then others who it was.

My might say like a rolling epiphany. It took time and it sounds like that was true for you and then how did you get up when you stumbled when you were back into the control sink Lord why my doing that.

How do you manage that process to hopefully end up in a better place. You know it's great about God as he takes your attempts to try and become the man he wants you to be and he says you give it your best shot. Let me make it a little easier.

The next time literally remind you how you felt. The last time I would see the look in her eyes that was different and it wasn't like she believed me after maybe three or four times. It was probably five or six years after the 16 year she talked about where I believe she started thinking I could actually change that wasn't very quick.

It took a long time for her to believe that I was capable of change in Jan right here at the end. I want to get that perspective from you the skepticism you may have had the hope that you had that back to skepticism. The hope women are living in that right now with her husband's exactly and it's not that we're in the far side of it. You can look back and you can see those attempts.

But when you're still in it. It takes you back to all of the other times that you are in that situation.

I wish I could say that I was like yeah and I believe that is said now I do because I have seen that but it's really hard at that time to be like. They encouraged him but there was such a beautiful thing. Run the way you said you could look into Jan's eyes and her face and see it as a barometer and you don't forget you. Don't forget the way she used to look at me, I don't forget the fear and the sadness in how I reminded her of past experiences, so there's something about being able to move toward the way God wants you to be that your soul just lifts and it's like oh I could be that guy and then you start realizing it feels so much better to let God handle the control in the fear and trying to do with yourself well in the biblical mandates and marriage are pretty amazing and I know that in this culture today.

You know, they seem controversial but actually there quite amazing and they work well when both people are functioning in a healthy way because I left there is no husbands laying their lives that their wives and wives respecting their husbands.

I mean it. It's the right formula. It's God's DNA. It's his plan in us spiritually and when we apply it. It works well and if you're in that spot where you're screaming at me right now even hearing that you need to get a hold of us. Let's talk about it. Talk to one of our current Christian counselors get the book by Ron Welch the controlling husband. That's can give you many more ideas on things you can do and if you like controlling wife.

I'm sure you have written that book yet sure those concepts will apply to you. And of course if you make a gift of focus of any amount will send it as our way of saying thank you if you can afford it. It's not about that. It's about asking you to join us in ministering to other people that need help if you can't do that right now we get that and you need the book.

Let us not will trust others will cover the cost of it.

It's not about the financial transactions by giving you help and hope you reach out to us today are numbers 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 and we also have a lot of great details. Additional resources and more about Ron's book the controlling husband. It's all in the episode notes I just check there for the links that Ron and Janet again. I want to say thank you for all that you've done and you know just exposing this to people it's it's very courageous to do that to take your weakest elements of your relationship. Thank the Lord behind you, but to still lay those out there on the table for others to see. Says a lot about your heart to want to help others as a counselor on Jan certainly has his spouse you, not the one you walk it all the time and people are going to talk to about it but thank you for that vulnerability. And thank you for putting in the time to write this great book. The controlling husband which pixel hub of humility Ron to lay it out there so thank you. To be fair I tell my students in the seminary fund and asked them to be honest, I've got to share my life in my journey so hopefully sharing it with you all lets people learn and grow in their relationship with the Lord menu come a long way. Still on a journey I counted myself a recovering controlling husband should have an affair, not right to have you thinking okay so much for thank you for doing this is a list that we trust that showed a great weekend ahead, your family and your church family as well and on Monday will have some help for engaged couples to prepare for the good, the bad in the sometimes ugly side of Mary and I had our clothes were looking at these vomited close close with God's love for them and at 19, I looked down and I thought to myself this is on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team. Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and Your Family Dr. in Christ. Okay Mike got here soon as I could. Was going on.

Hey, I just want to give you an update on my marriage is a good news.

Yeah our marriage is going great right now. I can be happier.

That's awesome you.

It's like a solid 5/10. Having a marriage that's just okay is what couples really want to live. Give yourself and your spouse an all-inclusive weekend you'll slow your pace. Focus on each other get more that's

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