Have you ever defined what a “healthy relationship” is?
Most of my clients want “healthy marriages” or “healthy relationships” but they have no idea what that means to them.
The truth is that YOU get to decide what’s healthy and what’s not—for your romantic relationship and every other relationship in your life (not other people deciding for your like friends and family members).
That said, what you decide will have consequences in your life. So, if you decide yelling is healthy, and you end up with a marriage full of yelling and your partner is controlling, you may find you have the result of a very emotionally volatile, manipulative (or even emotionally abusive) relationship. This is when you’d want to revisit “healthy” and change your definition.
Some of the most common red flags in relationships that lean toward negative consequences are…
- Being involved in your husband’s decision making
- Not having open communication in the marriage
- Giving each other the silent treatment
- Blaming your husband for your emotions (saying, “you made me feel bad when you did XYZ”).
- Trying to change the other person
- Having a “my way or highway” attitude
- Always needing to have the last word.
If you recognize the signs and notice any of these in yourself, rest assured, you’re not alone.
This is normal.
If you’re thinking about your husband or friends and family who are controlling, this is also really normal!
For this exercise, I want the focus to be on you.
After all, you’re the only one you can control. When you control yourself, what other people do becomes less of a big deal in your life. Learn to feel secure with yourself and not look to others to bring you security.
This is where I come in, as a life coach. I can help you release control in your relationship.
Check out this podcast episode on a similar topic—Fixing A Broken Relationship.
How To Release Control In A Relationship
When you release control in your relationship, the entire dynamic changes.
Most people think “it takes two” to change a relationship.
This is a complete myth. It only takes one—and this is great news for you. It means you can do this work and change your results.
The best way I know of to release control in a relationship is to do the following three steps:
- Disagree without fighting
- Communicate effectively
- Be willing to be vulnerable
Let’s take a look at how you can start using each today…
- How To Fix A Broken Relationship (blog post)
- Toxic And Difficult Relationships (podcast)
- How To Live An Intentional Life (free course)
1. Disagree Without Fighting
The first way to release control is to disagree without fighting.
Did you know you can have wildly different opinions from someone and still love them?!
It’s true. And it works. Amazingly well.
How this works is there is you and there is the other person, and you each have your own, separate and different thoughts.
It doesn’t make the relationship toxic or difficult (in fact, there’s no such thing as a toxic relationship).
However, it does mean that this person might make it hard for you to be your best self around. In other words, it’s hardest for you to manage your mind around them because they’re so different.
What’s really happening is your brain just wishes everyone was like you. It sounds silly to think about but it’s the truth. We all have this idea that if everyone were like us, the world would be better. We think that by controlling people and their thoughts to be like ours, things would be better.
But, of course, that’s not true.
The truth is we’re all different. There’s all kinds of kinds, as Miranda Lambert says.
And some of your best work can be learning how to love someone who is completely different from you.
You do this by disagreeing with their values, opinions, actions, etc. But by still loving them.
You can say “I see you, I hear you, and I disagree. But I still love you.”
We’re not trained to do this. We’re taught to disconnect and hate our haters (so contradicting and counterproductive).
- The Good Relationship Test (blog post)
- Making New Friends (podcast)
- Overcoming Self Doubt (free course)
2. Communicate Effectively
The second way to release control is to communicate effectively.
This is about you and not the other person.
So even if you have the idea that this person is controlling or manipulative, it’s your job to show up as your best self.
This, of course, is easier said than done.
But it’s where the best outcome happens.
If you go into a conversation with intentions to control the outcome, you yourself will feel a loss of control when that doesn’t happen.
Typically, we think another person has controlling behavior (e.g.: “he doesn’t let me go there”) but really we’re trying to control that person (e.g.: “he shouldn’t tell me what to do; he should say XYZ instead”).
No one can actually control you unless they’re physically holding you down. Your husband might say, “don’t go there” but unless he’s physically abusive, you my friend, are an adult and can do whatever you want.
If there are any signs at all that your partner is abusive, that’s when you need to get professional help (that is well above my pay grade).
For the purpose of this post, I’m referring to our thoughts about what we can and can’t do in relationships that hold us back and leave us with tension and resistance in our relationships.
When this happens (when we try to control another person), the solution is to release our own control and then communicate openly, from a place of feeling genuinely curious about what the other person has to say.
When you communicate from love and openness, you can’t go wrong. Ever.
- What Is The Role Of A Life Coach (blog post)
- How Life Coaching Has Changed My Life (podcast)
- Conquering Anxiety (free course)
3. Be Willing To Be Vulnerable
The third way to release control is to be willing to be vulnerable.
This. Is. Hard.
I get it.
“Be vulnerable” is such a thing to say, but so difficult to practice—particularly with someone who it’s challenging for you to love.
But vulnerability is about you. It’s about you releasing the need to control the outcome. It has very little to do with the other person.
When you love openly, for yourself, you’re vulnerable.
A Final Note!
Whenever you feel the need to control, it’s really your brain trying to make sure you’re safe and secure. It’s a survival mechanism that we don’t need anymore, but that our brains still default to.
And this is made worse by what we see on TV and social media—that you need to communicate your “needs” and make sure the other person “fulfills them.”
That ends up creating a very controlling relationship where you’re each trying to make the other happy (an impossible task).
What works is each partner making themselves happy. Take care of you, and the rest will follow.
The solution is to increase your awareness and coach yourself to choose better feeling thoughts. This will release the resistance in your relationships and feel so much better.
This happens when you spend time on your own mental health. This is why having a life coach to help you manage your brain is so powerful and essential to your wellbeing and growth. There is no other way than with your mind.