5 Truths to Curb Your Need to Control - Elizabeth Otterstetter - A Wife Like Me

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5 Truths to Curb Your Need to Control – Elizabeth Otterstetter

May 15, 2020

5 Truths to Curb Your Need to Control

I hung up the phone as the tears streamed down my cheeks. My body felt weak as the weight of my husband’s words sank in. 

Within minutes, insecurity flooded my heart and mind with thoughts that I wasn’t good enough, strong enough, and I was losing control.

My typical response of guilting and pleading wouldn’t change this situation, and would  only communicate I was needy. So this time I did everything I could to keep communication brief and upbeat.

But as the hours went by, the more I felt myself unraveling from the lack of control, frustrated and unsure how to express my hurt in a way he would understand. I pushed down every temptation I had to call him – to yell and place blame. 

The tools I had always used were no longer going to cut it.

I knew I needed to go to God.

The Truth Hurts

After taking the night to pray and process, my husband and I were able to sit down and have a calm, meaningful discussion. One that allowed us to both see how our actions were impacting our marriage in a negative way.

Through the conversation, I learned a few things about myself and how my own tendencies were affecting our marriage. Mainly, my husband shared with me his hesitancy in being honest with me about his plans, knowing I’d respond trying to control him in some way.

He wasn’t wrong.

For years, I’ve tried to control my husband’s time with others. It can be anything from controlling what he watches, what he eats or even how he loads the dishwasher. For you, it might be that you feel the need to control how he feeds the kids, how he makes the bed, or controlling the use of phone time. 

I’ve learned the hard way there is a difference between respectfully communicating our feelings and controlling out of fear. When we confront our husbands from a place of fear or insecurity, the controlling nature is perceived by our husbands as nagging or needy, and in turn it builds a wall of helplessness and resentment. 

Thankfully, there are certain things we can do to help us avoid the temptation to control  and empower us to keep our peace with whatever our husband’s choose.

Here are 5 truths I’ve learned that help us curb our need to control.


  1. We can only control ourselves. As hard as it is to not tell my husband what I want him to do, I’ve learned that controlling him doesn’t bring us closer instead it puts up walls, and no one wins. It also shows him that I don’t trust him. By keeping this at the forefront of my mind, I am able to first fight back the temptation to respond with critical and hurtful words. 


  1. Communicate clearly and openly without placing blame. Have a conversation. We’ve worked on our expectations and his needs and my needs within those. The clearer you are in what YOU need, followed by asking what he needs, the more likely you are to build each other up vs tearing down. 


  1. Updates. Asking for updates has been a life saver for me! This allows him to know that he can confidently call or text me to let me know when plans change. This one really is based on what works best for you, but it’s helped me hugely feel included and not left in the dark.


  1. Be quick to apologize. When you don’t bite your tongue quick enough, because we are human. Be as quick to apologize. You will show how far you have come by stopping right in the midst of your escalating, to self correct. 


  1. Have a safe word where you can pause and go get with God. When things start amplifying and we are making no headway in our confrontation, or I just can’t see why he’s not understanding…usually because I am in “control mode”.  We’ll  pause so I can go have a chat with God to get my mind right! 


5 Truths to Curb Your Need to Control

Managing our husband’s only push our husbands further away. 

It’s not always perfect and I still struggle, but learning to not control his choices has been both freeing and empowering at the same time. As we continue down a path of navigating the sometimes difficult relationships we have we can all learn to become more trusting of God amidst it all. 


Wife Step: Write this verse on a post-it and put it up where you will see it often! A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare. -Proverbs 15:1 NLT

During her daytime hours Elizabeth works as a banker, and loves spending evenings with her Harley-loving husband of 14+ years. They currently reside in Minnesota but have dreams of one day moving someplace warm. A current intern for A Wife Like Me, Elizabeth is taking steps toward using the gifts God has given her to share encouragement with other women through writing. Elizabeth has a heart to see other wives like her fight for their marriages through prayer. You can find Elizabeth supporting others on her Instagram page @emotterstetter


  1. Amy

    This is just what I needed to read.
    I struggle with in this area and definitely have been that nagging wife especially when it comes to the kids. Thanks for giving this these tips that will empower us.

    • Elizabeth Otterstetter

      Amy I’m so glad you liked it. I hope the tips help you find ways to navigate and strengthen your marriage and co-parenting!!

  2. Emily

    Great job! Such a good article. I Def see some tools that will be helpful

    • Elizabeth Otterstetter

      Thank you Emily!!

  3. Laura

    What a great article, I could have used your words words last night! I tend to have a temper and seem not to be able to talk calmly with my husband, that is something I absolutely need to work on. Great advice Elizabeth!! Keep blogging!!!

    • Elizabeth Otterstetter

      Yes Laura! It’s not always easy, and when your life is challenged with a pandemic and your daily routines a mess it’s hard to come into conversations with a level head. There are plenty of resources on this website to help encourage you and find ways to break the cycle. Thank you so much for your kind words!!

  4. Leah Shay

    Thank you for sharing these truths! As women many of us battle the urge to control and in turn forfeit our peace along the way. I appreciate the transparency communicated through your writing and the principles you outlined for positive change. I’m looking forward to reading more from you in the future!


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I’m not who I was when I got married.


It was less than three years ago when I stood at an altar in front of a cross and said, “I do,” to vows we wrote and vows we borrowed. And in less than three years, I have become a different person.


My heart has changed. I’ve grown closer to God. And I’ve learned to love myself more. I have very different interests and concerns than the girl who stood in a white dress at 24.


My husband isn’t the same person either. His passions have grown. His friendships have changed. The goals he has for himself and his family are vastly different than they were three years ago.


Maybe you’ve changed a lot since your wedding day, and maybe your husband has too. Maybe there have been some beautiful changes and maybe some that aren’t so lovely. And while sometimes the changes are positive ones, other changes can be difficult. 


Some changes threaten to steal away the promises we made on our wedding day.


When we base the commitment to our husbands on how we feel he has changed for the worse or for the best, we are putting our hope in a pretty shaky foundation.


But God. Our God never changes.


“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” Hebrews 13:8 (NIV)


When we put our hope in Him, and we plant our roots down into Him (Colossians 2:7) in our marriages, we stand on the firmest foundation there has ever been.


You’re not who you were when you got married, but God is the same God today as the day you made a vow to Him and your husband.


There are no coincidences and no accidents in God’s Kingdom. He works everything out for our good. Don’t believe me? Read Romans 8:28. He is working your marriage out for good, too.


Don’t let differences distract you from the divine gift God has given you in your spouse. 


When marriage gets hard and the fights feel never-ending, we look up. When we wonder who in the world we even married, we look up. When we think maybe we should have married someone different because we ourselves are so different now, we look up.


We’ll never be the same as we were the day we wore a veil and cut a cake, but we can make a decision to hold on to the same feeling of honor and respect we had for our husbands that day. We can take those promises with us no matter how many times we change in this life. We can continue to look up as the world around us and inside us shifts. Because our God never shifts.

We're Different Now

When we get married, we aren’t only agreeing to love the man in front of us for who he is that day, but for who he will be every day after that. Because we won’t always be who we are that day, and neither will he.


Wife Step: Write down three ways you’ve seen God remain constant and faithful throughout your marriage. Pray over those ways and thank Him for never changing, through the good and the bad.

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