Is your inner control freak affecting your marriage?

Jul 26, 2010 at 3:00 p.m. ET

We gals are light years ahead of our mates when it comes to matters of home and family. Or at least we think we are. After all, we come from a long line of mothers; we have sisters, cousins, aunts and BFFs to counsel us, and we are the definitive market for how-to books, seminars and media. But sometimes the inner control freak that catalogs all this knowledge gets in the way of a warm, appreciative relationship.

Woman squeezing pillow

How to Control the control freak

When he takes your control away

We know. We know the right way to clean a stove, diaper a baby, get dinner on the table and soothe a crying child. We know how often laundry should be done, beds changed and floors mopped, and how recalcitrant children, pets and in-laws should be dealt with. Even if we don't always do these things to perfection, we certainly know how.

So when our beloved takes it upon himself to diaper the baby, change a bed or (miracle of miracles) mop the floor, we are quick to tell him how he's doing it wrong -- because I can just about guarantee, he won't do it your way, the you are deeply and profoundly convinced is the only way to do it. And your inner control freak, well -- freaks!

Instead of thanking and praising your mate for his effort, you point out his ineptness. You rush in to finish the job -- properly thank-you-very-much -- or in exasperation, you tell him he's making double work for you, thank-you-very-much.

Later that night, you wonder why he turns a cold shoulder to your affectionate advances, why his good-night kiss is barely perfunctory.

Your inner control freak is squeezing the love right out of your relationship. How can he feel warm and tender toward, much less excited by, the woman who told him, with actions if not words, that he's such an idiot that he can't even mop a floor to her specs.

Letting go of the control

Start with thanks. Profuse appreciation. Then, over time, drop hints such as, "I wonder how XYZ product would work on the floors? What do you think?" and leave it at that. Let it go. Put your daily routines in the proper perspective. After all, what's more important: The love of your man or a perfectly mopped floor? Your man is not an idiot. When you let him know how much his efforts help you, and and when you treat him like an equal, not a dolt, chances are good he'll rise to the occasion.

Restrain your inner control freak, not your man. Your love life will greatly benefit.

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