“Control issues” usually stem from fear or anxiety. When a person is afraid of an outcome or wants things to be a certain way, they can become rigid. By feeling a sense of control, they can reduce their anxiety and feel that they have power. While it is easy to label someone as controlling, it is important to look at their fear and what they are reacting to.

Control can show up in many different ways. Sometimes one spouse is distrusting and tries to control who his/her partner speaks to or where they go out. This can be due to fear of the other person betraying their trust, cheating, or even being influenced by others who may have a negative feeling towards them.

How bad is it to be controlling in a relationship?

Control issues are destructive because a relationship is about two people working together. When one is trying to control the other, or is extremely rigid, it creates an atmosphere of fear and anxiety in the relationship. This tense atmosphere does not make room for love and light-heartedness. When it gets to the extreme, it damages other relationships as well, especially when one spouse is controlling who the other associates with.

What can you do if you or your partner is controlling?

Realize there is something bothering your partner. What can you do to reassure them, to make them feel safe? Realize that when you act in the other extreme, it may create more of what you don’t want. Be transparent, reassure your partner, and they will be less fearful.

Get help. Go to a couples therapist who is experienced in creating emotional safety. When both partners can speak up about what they are feeling in a safe environment, one need not revert to such self-protective survival behaviors. Control is a reaction to feeling unsafe. If one were able to express their feelings, there would be less need to go into such destructive behaviors.

If you need help with control issues in your relationship and you’re worried that one or both of you are too controlling- schedule a free 20 minute relationship clarity call with us. We’d be happy to give you some clarity about what’s been going on. Click here to schedule a time or use the form below.

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Shlomo & Rivka Slatkin

Rabbi Shlomo Slatkin is an Imago relationship therapist and certified (master level) Imago workshop presenter with over 20 years of experience hosting couples therapy retreats in-person and online. Contact info@themarriagerestorationproject.com or