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3 Biblical Responses to a Controlling Spouse - Episode 2

Matt Loehr • Marriage - Advice
Two: Create Boundary Lines of Protection

3 Biblical Responses to a Controlling Spouse - Episode 2


In our last episode, we talked about understanding the motive of a controller. Now let's talk about how to be married to one. Setting boundaries is the best way to manage a relationship with a controller. I would highly recommend you purchase and read Boundaries in Marriage and the book titled Boundaries. 


They will guide you on how to set up healthy relationships with people who try to control you. Before we talk about boundaries it's imperative for you to grasp some hard truths about yourself. 


Truth: You have areas in your life that need to improve. 

You may have some serious flaws in you that need to be remedied. The controller that is hounding you may be onto something that needs to change in you but their method of going about it isn't proper. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. You aren't completely innocent. 


Many of the times I felt controlled by Pam I would later discover a hard truth revealing something in me that perhaps needed to change. 


Truth: You should have a desire to grow spiritually and relationally. 

Just because someone is trying to control you improperly doesn't mean you should ever feel comfortable sitting still and not growing. Don't stop your spiritual and relational obligation towards growth just because of the flaws in your mate. You can't blame anyone for your immaturity and stagnate life but yourself. 




Boundaries are like a fence in your life that keeps the bad stuff out and the good stuff in. Likewise, you can create boundaries with someone who is controlling. 

Here are a few examples of how to set boundaries regarding your spouse's controlling demands.


Cleaning: "I will clean _________ this _____ many times per week and I will do my best. If that isn't enough you can do the rest or hire it out."


Money: "I want to save money and be responsible too but we need to live a little and enjoy life along the way. I will commit to a spending limit of _______ per month for frivolous things."


Relationships: "I know you don't want me to golf anymore with Bob because you don't like him but we are very close friends. I will continue to golf with him as a witness and invite you to share concerns if he is affecting me in a negative way. If not, we will continue to meet."


Sex: "I feel like we are only intimate when you want to. I'd like to schedule a time each week for intimacy with an understanding that there will be exceptions." Or "No, I don't want to be intimate tonight. It doesn't mean I don't want to or love you but let's plan on tomorrow night."


In-laws: "I can't agree with you to never see my parents again because they are rude and obnoxious. Moving forward, let's agree to see them on shorter visits, not stay overnight and alternate holidays. If they become real toxic and don't change, we can lessen our number of visits even more. I want to honor them even if it's hard."


Setting boundaries is a way to push back on someone who is demanding 'absolutes' such as "You can never see your friend again, we are NEVER going back to your parents, you have to have sex with me right now".


Get used to saying NO to the person who is controlling. Come up with alternate solutions that show a spirit of compromise. Don't just say no all the time without offering alternative ideas. 



Prepare for them to get angry, furious and accusatory for a while. Try to let it roll off your back and understand it's all new to them. They may call you names and insist that you are the one being controlling. Don't get upset or confused. Saying NO and laying out alternatives is never controlling. The controller will often feel immense anxiety and pain when losing control however the alternative isn't good for either party. 


When you state your boundaries, be very soft, loving and kind. Deliver your boundaries carefully so you do not give ammunition to the controller to be used against your character. 



Once you offer the alternatives, take a time out and give it time to settle in. It may take days for the controller to wrestle with the outcome and calm down enough to rationalize. During this time, pray for them and remain calm and consistent. The controller must choose between their relationship with you or being in control. Moving forward, they can't have both. 


Often the outcome is powerful. Your controlling spouse learns to love you and respect you because of your ability to stand up for yourself in a loving and respectful way. 


What controllers don't understand is their controlling behavior undermines their ability to respect their spouse. A controlling wife with a submissive husband will never respect him even if he submits to her demands. On the contrary, the more he cowers to her temper the more she loathes his weakness.

If the husband is a controller and his wife continually cowers to his behavior, he begins to loathe her weakness and has no desire to give her the tender love she deserves. It is a vicious cycle that never produces results for the controller but they can't see that because their eye is on the immediate gratification of their demand being met and they can't see past it. 


That being said, give the controller time to adapt to your new stance. You may see amazing results in a short amount of time. You may see that you played a role in enabling your controller to control you. Now you put your foot down in a loving and respectful way, they stopped controlling and started loving and respecting you for it. 


Colossians 3

17Everything you do or say should be done to obey Jesus your Lord. And in all you do, give thanks to God the Father through Jesus. 18 Wives, yield to the authority of your husbands, because this is the right thing to do in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and be gentle with them. 20Children, obey your parents in all things, because this pleases the Lord.21 Fathers, do not nag your children. If you are too hard to please, they may want to stop trying. 22 Slaves, obey your masters in all things. Do not obey just when they are watching you, to gain their favor, but serve them honestly, because you respect the Lord. 23 In all the work you are doing, work the best you can. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not for people.


In the Lord, wives let your husbands lead, husbands be considerate of your wives and be loving and gentle, fathers, don't nag your kids to death (break their spirit), slaves (workers) obey your boss, gain their favor as a measure of respect to the Lord God. Work as if you were doing it for the Lord, not your wife, husband or boss. 


This passage doesn't allow us to terminate relationships with controlling people, it encourages us to work our way through it as if we were serving the Lord himself. 

Set boundaries with love and respect and trust God will do the rest. 


Scriptures: Colossians 3:17-23

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