Is Your Partner Controlling?

Is Your Partner Controlling?  Do you ask yourself why you stay in a relationship where your partner is controlling?  Do you think you can change your partner’s behavior?  Have you tried to reason with him to no avail? Do you think that if you just do as she asks things will be more stable? Have you considered the problem is not him but you?

As a young and newly married woman, I was controlling in my relationship. Family members and some friends brought this to my attention.  I, of course, dismissed their feedback and minimized my behavior.

As a Marriage Counselor, I work with many couples who present with this exact situation.  A controlling husband or wife who can’t or won’t make the behavioral adjustments for family harmony.  You cannot evoke change in anyone but yourself. If you think or hope you can you may have some codependent traits that need to be identified and managed.  The recipient of bad behavior has a conscious or unconscious agenda that they possess some omnipotent power to influence their abusive husband/wife. I call this denial as some people for whatever reasons need or want to stay in abusive situations.

In working with couples who are distressed by controlling behavior, I give them tools to communicate in healthy ways. Of course, there is a choice to utilize these tools or not. An effective way to see if there is good prognosis for couples moving forward in more appropriate are as follows:

  1. Give the controlling partner the opportunity to make the necessary adjustments.
  2. Give the controlling partner a designated time frame to demonstrate either ability or incapability in making the adjustments.
  3. If change from the controlling partner is not happening determine whether there is a “can’t or won’t” factor.
  4. If there is a “can’t” factor the controlling partner needs to be assessed to see if there are any challenges in how he/she processes information. (code for any personality or mental disorder)
  5. If there is a “won’t” factor the partner tolerating the abuse needs to make a decision whether or not staying in the relationship is feasible.
  6. Counseling is encouraged throughout the process.

Before anyone can leave a long-term relationship they need information to make an informed decision.  People stay in challenging relationships for many reasons. Talking about some of those reason can help with the decision making process.

Call me at (858) 735-1139 if you continue to ask yourself “should I stay or should I go?”

 

What Happens in Relationship Addiction?

What Happens in Relationship Addiction?  Addiction comes in many forms.  Substance abuse and relationships.  As a Marriage and Family Therapist I work with people who suffer from relationship addiction. This kind of addiction is a result of some kind of co-dependency.

The Relationship Addiction Process starts off like many relationships where two people meet and start to enjoy each other’s company.  Addictive relationships typically go through a process that usually starts with an innocent attraction to someone – and this quickly turns into an infatuation. The relationship addict, who is hungry for love, feels exhilarated and blinded by “love at first sight.” This turns into an excessive preoccupation with the loved one involving hours of fantasy about how the relationship might turn out. (Of course, this happens in normal love relationships also – but the degree to which this happens in an addicted relationship is enormous. This is a case in which feelings control one’s life while rational thought is abandoned – and this is not a healthy style of living.) Love addicts then project all of their dreams for eternal happiness onto the loved one (most healthy people, of course, realize that they are ultimately responsible for their own happiness).  See symptoms of relationship addiction.

These fantasies trigger the dependency phase of the relationship. The love addict then develops the fear that the relationship could come to an end, and with it, the end of hope for a happy life. These fears lead to an obsessive quest to hold on to this relationship at any cost – even if it means control and manipulation.

This is when the relationship typically begins to deteriorate. The relationship addict puts so much energy into molding the relationship into what he or she needs that the other person begins to feel smothered, intimidated, and ungrateful. The loved one resents having to live to meet the needs of another person, especially when there is a feeling of control (people typically want to maximize their own life experience rather than using a great deal of their energy to make another person feel comfortable). The loved one may even express resentment in the form of lying, cheating, taking for granted, or abusing the love addict. This puts a severe strain on the relationship and it makes the relationship addict try even harder. A vicious cycle begins.

Love addicts keep on trying, however, attempting at all cost to keep alive the dream of experiencing happiness through the other person. The pain of going through this can be immense. They go into denial, acting as if everything is going well. They are not able to see where the true problem lies, which is in their own unmet needs and their addictive resolution. They idealize the relationship, even though it is barely viable and not meeting the needs of either partner.

A relationship addict who is at this stage of a deteriorating relationship might consider a good, healthy intervention with a professional therapist. Failing to find help can have severe mental, emotional, and physical consequences. There comes a time to make a major life change and to learn how to deal with the pain in a different and more productive way.

For additional information on co-dependency and relationship addiction please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

Relationship Addiction

Relationship Addiction.  The experience of finding the right partner and falling “in love” is one of life’s true joys. It brings a feeling of euphoria, passion, connection, and hope for a happy future. It can lead to a lifetime of loving contentment. Of course, sometimes it lapses and becomes one of our memories, sometimes pleasant and sometimes not. The “high” that comes from this feeling of loving passion, at least for some people, is so compelling that they use it to fill gaps in their lives, much as they might use a drug. Being in love, for them, can resemble an addiction.

The source of an addiction is found within the person, not in the substance itself. Some people can use a drug, including alcohol, and not become addicted. Similarly, some people can enjoy the high of being in love as a positive life experience without any indication of addiction. Other people, depending on their needs, their abilities, or their backgrounds, use the euphoric feelings that come from an outside source of gratification (drugs, relationships … or gambling, videogames – the list is endless) to create a false sense of fulfillment in their lives. They have difficulty looking within, perhaps due to a lack of sense of self to find a way to achieve contentment, so they look outside of themselves for a way to soothe their internal feelings. Everyone does this to a degree. But when it takes on a compulsive quality that inhibits more positive life experiences and leads to negative consequences, it can be called an addiction.

People who use relationships addictively usually harbor a sense of incompleteness in their lives –  emptiness, despair, feeling lost, or sadness. They may lack a feeling of attachment to love that has roots in their early childhood. They believe their feelings can be remedied through finding that comforting feeling of euphoria that comes through a love relationship.  See relationship symptoms.

An addictive relationship has a compulsive quality about it. While a healthy love relationship implies that both partners freely choose each other, in an addictive relationship there is a compulsive drive that limits this freedom (“I must stay in this relationship even if it’s bad for me.”) There is also an overwhelming feeling of panic over the thought of losing the relationship, even if there are arguments between the two partners and both know the relationship should end. If the relationship actually ends, there are pronounced withdrawal symptoms, much like drug, nicotine, or alcohol addicts experience when they go “cold turkey.”

They may experience weeping, physical pain, sleep disturbance, depression, irritability, and the feeling that they have no place to turn to now. These feelings are so intense that they might drive the person into another addictive relationship immediately. After this period of turmoil ends, however, the addicted person senses a period of triumph or liberation and they don’t typically go through the long, slow experience of acceptance and healing that characterizes the ending of a healthier relationship.

As a Marriage Counselor working with individuals who suffer from these types of unhealthy relationships I help them manage the ups and downs of tolerating bad behavior.  For more information relationship addiction please contact me at (858) 735-1139.

 

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?

Are You In An Abusive Relationship?  Last week I wrote about unhealthy relationships and red flags or warning signs that should not be ignored.  As a Marriage Counselor I work with couples who are in relationships where they are either unaware of the red flags or are in denial of the abusive behavior they are receiving from their partner for whatever their personal issues are about remaining in the relationship.  Observe what is happening between you and your partner and trust your intuition.  If you are in doubt about what is right or wrong get clarity from someone you trust.

Here are some abusive behaviors no women should tolerate in a relationship – courtesy of Dr. Christine Murray:

1. Excessive jealousy. He doesn’t trust you, and he doesn’t recognize you as an empowered woman with the ability to make your own choices. It’s not enough for you to choose him over and over again. He wants to control you.

2. Frequently losing his temper around you. It’s not a little character flaw, and it’s not a sign of deep passion (you can have that without the temper tantrums, believe me). A hot temper can quickly become a dangerous situation for you.

3. Frequently checking up on you. This is different from checking in with you, which is a healthy habit for couples. Checking in is making contact to express affection and wish your partner a good day. Checking up is when he tries to keep tabs on where you are and who you’re with at all times.

4. Trying to keep you isolated from friends and family members. Does he pile on your mom when you complain about her? Does he complain when you want to go out with your girlfriends?

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courtesy freedigitalphotos.com and David Castillo Dominici

5. Trying to limit your personal choices, from how you dress to how you spend your time. Emotional abuse is always about power and control, Dr. Murray says. “Any words or behaviors that seek to minimize one person’s value or worth could potentially be indicators of emotional abuse.”

6. Shaming or insulting you. This is not okay! And if he says you just need to get used to his “sense of humor,” that’s BS. He’s the one who needs to learn how to treat people respectfully. A good man who loves you wants you to feel great about yourself, not lesser-than.

7. Telling you you’re blowing things out of proportion or blaming you for his abusive behavior. Those are forms of manipulation. You don’t “make” anyone hit you. There is nothing you can do to deserve abuse. If he says he’s just joking around but you feel hurt or threatened, it’s still unacceptable. Don’t trust a man who won’t take responsibility for his words and actions toward you.

8. A shove or a slap. Gripping your arm too tightly, pulling your hair out of anger, causing you any physical pain or trying to restrain you physically. “Abusive relationships often do demonstrate a pattern of escalation, meaning that the abuse may start out as less severe and become more severe over time,” Dr. Murray warns.

9. Rape. It’s important for all women to know that rape is any sexual contact against your will — even if you’re married. Being in a relationship or a marriage does not entitle anyone to sex whenever or however he or she wants it.

Dr. Murray states “It’s important to remember that even the very first incident of physical violence in a relationship can be very severe and dangerous.” “So that’s why we need to take threats of violence and escalating emotional and psychological abuse very seriously.”

As a Licensed Marriage Counselor I strongly recommend getting professional advice from a counselor sooner rather than later. The more forthcoming and honest you are with the details of your relationship, the better they’ll be able to help you figure out your best course of action.

If you want more information on what healthy relationships look like or if you’re concerned about some of these abusive Red Flags happening in your relationship, please call me at (858) 735-1139 or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).