We have company in our home for the last week, my partner’s family. The race, color or age of this couple isn’t important neither is the length of their relationship because adults should know better but I have doubts that this relationship will last too long unless one of them realizes what is going on. At this point in time, I don’t think either recognize there is a problem though after my comments, I’m hoping it might get them to start thinking about it.
It took me a few days to figure out the dynamics of this couple and it was very difficult for me to stay silent despite the fact that it was none of my business, but last night it was the straw that broke the camel’s back as she insisted to dry my dishes even though I told her to leave them alone: “because that is how I like to do it”. She responded: “I dry them at home and can’t stand dishes sitting in the tray when you have a cat in the house”.
Let me first start by saying that our cat Leo has been totally traumatized by her shooing, yelling and chasing him with a water spray bottle. This woman doesn’t like cats but Leo doesn’t like being yelled at and has done things he normally never does or ever did. This is my home, therefore, should it not be respected?
Have I left some clues about her yet? Well, for starters disrespecting my home is obvious and I’m not offended by that, I can only feel sadness for people like that. After the dishes were done, her partner started to spoon spaghetti on his plate and she would say: “That’s too much, you had a big lunch”. He: “I worked it off swimming this afternoon, I love spaghetti”. She: “That’s too much cheese, you know you are lactose intolerant!”.
Last night I didn’t want to comment on anything, I was just observing their interaction, but I consider what she was doing as harassment among many other things. It can be control issues, no trust or simply not loving in a healthy way.
I waited for breakfast because I knew I would hear the same comments and I was right: “3 eggs is too much, that’s too much butter”. He: “I love eggs and I need protein because we are going snorkeling today”.
And that’s how the next morning started. After he justified why he loved eggs and butter, I turned to him and said: “I don’t see why you need to constantly justify anything you eat to anyone”.
I knew it would get a response from her, I also know that she would wait when we would be alone and I also knew what she would say because I heard it for many years from women who’s husbands wanted a divorce because of nagging and control issues. They would come and ask for help before they split up just in case they could save the marriage.
She said to me” I only do that because I love him and don’t want him to get sick”. Me: “You do that because you’re so hung up about your body, have no self-esteem and trying to convince yourself you do it out of love. If you truly loved him you would not do that, in fact, if you loved and accepted yourself, you would not humiliate him. By humiliating him, you fooled yourself into feeling better for a brief moment”.
This wasn’t an easy thing for me to say because it’s none of my business how she treats her partner but she showed me such disrespect and my rules, sometimes truth hurts and I wanted to hurt her.
After she heard what I said, she tried to justify herself again by saying: “If he gets sick then I have to take care of him”. Me: “No you don’t. If you allow him to make his own choices and he gets sick, you’re not responsible or obligated to take care of him. You can take care of him out of the goodness of your heart but not because you have to because he did it to himself”. I didn’t want to go further into discussions so I lied: “My client is coming soon, gotta go.”
I have enough knowledge and experience to know the issue cannot get resolved with a conversation. I didn’t offer to help because I learned that helping people when they are not ready for it leads nowhere. If she asked for help I would have considered it but under the condition they both sit and talk with me so that he could understand what she was doing was not good behavior. I doubt that he has recognized it because his mother did the same to his father, whom I live with now.
Sadly, this is not an uncommon situation in our society. I can’t say it’s a global problem, but it’s very dominant here in Croatia and people raised by Croatian parents.
In some part of India, families still follow the tradition of preparing the daughter for marriage from the age of 7 forwards. Daughters are taught how to be good wives right down to lovemaking. Whether the family chooses the husband for her isn’t dependent on this tradition as they are both different and separate, but my point is that if the girl does marry into the same family of traditions, she may never know differently and she will dedicate her life to her husband and children without realizing there are different ways.
In Croatia, the issue is not so much about women controlling or criticizing their husbands as much as they control and interfere with their children. I have spent the last 5 years actively researching where this comes from, but speaking to the mothers didn’t help me understand it any better. They consider that a way of life, normal, and can’t think of any other way to live. While living in Canada, I noticed the Croatian mothers doing the same thing. I get varied answers as to why they interfere with their adult children lives:
1. I didn’t have much growing up so I want them to have more.
My parents didn’t have much either, but they taught me how to work for it.
2. I don’t want them to suffer like I did.
My parents suffered and wanted me to as well, they said we get strong in hardship.
3. It’s difficult life and since I cook for 2 adults, cooking for more is no big deal, why not?
No it’s not the same, it costs more.
4. They don’t know how to handle hardships so I have to help them.
I knew how to handle hardships because I left home at 16 and did just fine.
5. The economy is bad and if we can help why not?
The economy can be bad in any country at any given time but not all parents use that as an excuse. Most kids if returning back home pay room and board, nothing is for free.
The mothers that interfere and control their children’s lives all believe they are doing it to help. Not all mothers do this. But instead of helping, they actually create invalids because these kids when becoming adults don’t know how to handle difficult situations so the mother is right in a sense, but she caused the problem in the first place by doing everything for them. I have several friends that have retired and are now raising their grandchildren to make their daughter’s life easier. She comes home from work, her meal is on the table, her apartment clean, child bathed, clothes washed and dried/folded. Wow, how privileged they are. I raised 2 children as a single mother and was fortunate if my parents had a spare weekend to be with them let alone cook and clean for me.
What I noticed about my friends is that they have no hobbies, no interests, no time for themselves yet complain about the sacrifices they make. They are in contact with their kids all day long, texting and calling to find out where they are, what they are doing and when they are coming home.
Is it possible like my guest they have no control over their lives so they must control externally around them? Hard to say. Both of them have choices to not control. Do they not have hobbies or time because they live for their children or do they not know how to live for themselves?
My guest is a control freak and has issues with her body. She is “model” slim and eats like a parrot, always watching what she eats. It’s one thing to watch your weight, but another to disappear into the bathroom after eating so I believe that she is projecting on him. If she can’t control her food intake, he can’t either.
It’s hard to see a 40 year old man justify every thing he puts in his mouth and could it be the reason why he eats and drinks too much? Maybe.
The dynamics with this couple is unbalanced and for whatever reason she feels the need to control him the simple justification is evidence that he will not tolerate it forever. She will either have to stop or he will leave. A confident woman doesn’t need to control and a confident man doesn’t need to justify his behavior.
Anyone, including mothers that interfere and control their children’s lives who justify or excuse their behavior is evidence that they feel it’s not acceptable or normal. I never make excuses for my behavior.
As an ex-smoker, my partner would constantly nag me about it. This is a man who smoked 4 packages of cigarettes per day over 30 years ago and is now paying the price of suffering from Pulmonary Hypertension and COPD with other breathing problems and his heart.
I never responded to his nagging, it never felt I needed to justify my choice to smoke and when he would ask me when I was going to quit, I would always answer the same: “When I am ready for it”. You see, he too thought he was doing a good thing, but he wasn’t. He wasn’t doing it out of love because when I did eventually quit smoking he never congratulated or commended my success to this day. If he was really helping, then he would have supported me but didn’t.
When my guest decided against dessert today at lunch with family, instead of commending him, she said: “Oh, you’re just making room so you can eat more tonight”. You get my drift? Does this sound like a woman who is nagging because she cares about him?
We control for many reason. Unlike love, control is a learned behavior or a consequence or lack we feel. Love is illusive. We can’t choose or decide to love but we can choose to control or not by learning what causes us to do it and most often we are projecting our own insecurities on to others.
Control freaks rarely know that they are one. They believe that they are helping people with their “constructive criticism” or taking over a project because “no one else will do it right.”
They don’t see their controlling behaviors as symptoms of what’s really going on–their own anxiety has run amuck.
Controlling your kids or their lives usually stems from poverty where survival is all we know. As parents we may even become obsessed with not wanting our kids to live in poverty too so we give and sacrifice everything to them and never learn how to give to ourselves or take time out for ourselves. It’s much more complex but this is a brief explanation. Problem with poverty is that you can’t do much without money although going for a walk doesn’t require it, only time. It gets passed on from generation to generation, so that my friends don’t see it as something negative or unhealthy. Its a way of life for them, they have accepted and I had to give up asking for their time.
I can’t imagine living only for my children, even when there were little, as a single mom it wasn’t easy but I always managed to get a babysitter and do things for myself otherwise I could have gone crazy.
Women that control their partners have learned it from their parents most likely or they simply view their partner as too stupid to make the right decisions. It’s not the behavior I have an issue with, that can easily be resolved if they choose to get help. It’s the excuses they make to cover up the real issues. She saw him feel embarrassed, I saw him become embarrassed as he was justifying why he was eating, yet she continued with her humiliation. If we truly love someone we’re not going to do that and so seek help when we realize what we are doing.
During the first year of building our institution (relationship), we talked about things we accepted or not. Marriage is an institution, love is an emotion. One has nothing to do with the other. My first subject was control. I told my partner that I did not like or appreciate being told what to do or how to do it unless I asked for help. I went on to explain the issues I had with authority so that he could understand why. I wanted him to accept me for who I was and not want to change me. Although he has respected our contract, and I really appreciate that, of course we both slip once in a while and we catch on fast.
In return, I do the same though the last 2 years have been very challenging because the downside of this is that despit the fact he chose to go the pharmaceutical way, medical quackery which is only making him sicker each day, I can’t tell him what to do.
We have become alienated as a result because I feel helpless and would love nothing more than to grab all those bottles of drugs/poison and flush them down the toilet, but I can’t. When you love someone, you love them even when you don’t like what they do.
I have no right to control him and I hate being controlled. If you have control issues, you need to trace that behavior back into time and find out why you do that. It’s not bad if you live alone, but if you share your life with another person or people, you may have problems in the future. Sometimes, we don’t say anything or pretend that everything is ok, but inside it builds up and then we wonder why our partner just exploded. Well, it’s more than likely they have been holding it inside and something happens that breaks the camel’s back and the explosion.
Regardless of your culture, race, age or marital status, having the need to control usually signifies something in your life that you feel you can’t control or your life is out of control so you feel better by controlling everything externally.
I am in total control of my life therefore no need to control or manipulate or interfere in the lives of my children or family or partner which doesn’t mean I don’t want to or would not like to. Whenever I feel that need, I instantly go back into my childhood and remember what it was like to feel controlled and helpless. And yes, I too at times want to do it out of love but I’m intelligent enough to understand that it may seem logical to me, but it will not seem logical to him.
I can’t stand women that get satisfaction in controlling men though and like my guest, had to voice my dissatisfaction, sometimes it’s enough to get them to think about it. If I sparked a thought than I have done something good today.