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Control Battles and How to Beat Them

Control battles are common – with one or the other partner buckling over who’s the boss! 

And the problems are not gender-free. In other words, it’s not always the man who always wears the pants in the family. 

Two celebrity couples demonstrate the dramas that can come from battles over control. First, an example of the woman rebelling against a controlling man: Katie Holmes, after initially marrying her dream man, Tom Cruise, is now apparently rebelling against his telling her what to do – from insisting that 3-year old daughter Suri be raised in Scientology instead of Catholicism as Katie wants, to even directing her about how to jog – wants her “space” from her domineering hubby. The small screen Dawson’s Creek-turned Broadway stage star is reportedly wanting to spend more time in NY than his preference for LA. 

From the opposite gender point of view, Brad Pitt is an example of the male rebelling against the Alpha Female. Heartthrob Pitt, who once seemed thrilled to follow in lover Angelina Jolie’s shadow through whirlwind worldwide travels, now is reportedly wanting his “space” -- staying in another wing of one of their mansions and recently disagreeing with her desire to take their brood of six abroad.

My advice: One exercise we marriage counselors often prescribe for couples in control battles is that they take turns being “boss,” with each having their way for a period of agreed-upon time, where the other goes along without protest. This exercise evens the battlefield and gets each used to leading as well as following. They may also need to accept the imbalance in who gets their way, recognizing that traits like being in control are hard to change. They also need to recognize that they chose their partner with that trait in the first place, for reasons that once were satisfying even if now annoying. On a deeper level, they need to confront whether the present-day domination or submission mirrors earlier childhood patterns that they once conceded but then rebelled against. Tracing the roots helps you accept that you chose a partner because of unconscious needs to repeat early experiences (even if you don’t like them).

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December 7, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterYoly D. Craig

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