Marriage Is A Partnership, Not A Control Game

Posted: May 31, 2016

Control issues in marriage are because of mistrust and insecurity, and society’s belief that it is OK for her husband to want to control her.

I have been lending a sympathetic ear to a friend who is going through a marital turmoil. She has been facing emotional abuse from her husband and in laws from some years now, but recently things took turn for worse.

The emotional abuse ranges from her mother-in-law’s taunts of how she is not a good mother, to her husband’s constant barrage on what she wears and whom she meets. The irony of the situation is that she had a love marriage with blessings from both set of parents.

She tells me that these days she rarely has a normal conversation with her husband where they discuss a common interest or just chat. Their interactions are limited to their daughter’s school details or her studies unless they are fighting.

These fights are usually about why my friend is going out to meet her other friends on a weekend, when she should spend time with her family. The fact that her husband sits out till late most nights is not seen as an issue. The kid, barely six, is a witness to all this and will obviously carry mental scars in the future. Worse, she is growing up learning that a man should control a woman’s way of life and she should follow his diktats.

Recently, while my friend was dealing with these issues, she met with an old college male friend. This friend who is also married and a new dad, shared similar interests with her and they ended up discussing books, movies and eating joints. Their interaction on one of the chatting apps increased and at times they were chatting for a couple of hours daily.

Since then the situation went downhill. The messages caught the attention of her husband who then took to checking her phone at regular intervals. The emotional abuse also became physical and soon any message or call she received at home became a cause of panic for her.

However when recounting this, she said her husband was right. After all she had been chatting with another man, and if he was suspicious of her it was correct.

I was astounded and surprised. Here was an educated woman, who has an authoritative position at work with several people (men and women) reporting to her. She is known for her work and has a vibrant likeable personality. She is good looking and confident, until you look closely. Then you see the shadows beneath her eyes, the fear in their depths, the tightening of her features every time her phone rings and her husband’s name flashes.

Why does an independent woman allow herself to become a victim of such abuse? She knows well enough that she is not at fault. It is her husband’s insecurity which has led to the deterioration of their marriage. Only he can better the situation if he agrees to the fact that there is a problem and decides to take help.

Unfortunately it is inculcated in the Indian woman’s mind that she is solely responsible for maintaining a happy marriage and if her husband raises his hand at her then he has a good reason to do so. I would like to state that absolutely nothing justifies a man hitting a woman, no matter what their relationship maybe. Again a husband has no right to direct a wife’s life in terms of who she meets and talks to just because he is married to her. And if he does that, then he has control issues. He needs help.

Relationships are about partnerships, not about superiority or control. It is not men but women too who use emotional abuse to gain control over their partners, and the root cause of this is usually insecurity and distrust. If these two vital ingredients are missing then it is difficult for a marriage to survive. The biggest victim of such unions are usually the children who grow up seeing the wrong example being set in front of them.

I have managed to convince my friend to go for marriage counselling and hope that for her and her daughter’s sakes, a solution is found. I hope her husband realises that he cannot and should not be controlling every aspect of his wife’s life. And if he doesn’t then I hope my friend can find the courage to walk out of this destructive relationship with her daughter and is able to find herself again.

Image source: control issues in marriage by Shutterstock.

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  1. Marriage counselling ONLY works when both parties are willing to solve the problem. In most cases, the one who actually needs counselling, is not ready for it. The problem being discussed here is guilt of wife who associates herself with an old friend for solace and then thinks that insecurity and distrust by her husband is justified because she is doing something “bad”. The best thing for her to do is not hide anything from him and try to gain his trust back. If she wants to save her marriage, be faithful to him, even in the thoughts. If she has the understanding of her ruining marriage, obviously she is the matured one in the union and therefore she is more capable of helping the other understand her situation. we generally think that why can’t he understand some simple things like what his wife wants, but isn’t it our job to make other understand what we want from them to be happy?

    • Hi Bina, you are right. However in this case, she has been truthful and has even ended the association which was causing her husband discomfort. Yet she has not been able to get it back.Maybe counselling will not solve all their problems… but it may start a conversation which I think is currently not present.

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